‘The Blacklist’ Actor Amir Arison Revealed How Improv Saved His Role on the Show: ‘This Is the Miracle People Talk About’

Amir Arison has starred in The Blacklist for nine seasons, but his casting process was quite unusual. Arison plays Aram Mojtabai in the show, who, over the seasons, became a central figure. Originally, though, Arison was only a guest actor scheduled to appear in one episode. Thankfully for the actor, his improv skills landed him a more significant role in The Blacklist.

'The Blacklist' star Amir Arison, in character as Aram Mojtabai, wears a light pink and white checkered button-up long-sleeved shirt and a purple tie.
Amir Arison | Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Amir Arison made his debut as Aram Mojtabai in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 1

Aram Mojtabai, played by Amir Arison, first appeared in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 3, “Wujing.” Aram is an FBI cyber expert. In the episode, Aram uses his cyber skills to protect Liz’s identity as an FBI agent when she goes undercover.

At some point in “Wujing,” Aram gives Donald Ressler, played by Diego Klattenhoff, and Meera Malik, played by Parminder Nagra, a location of a person of interest. The two agents leave the scene, and Aram sarcastically says to himself, “Thank you, Aram. You’re welcome. Go get them.”

As it turns out, this part of the scene initially wasn’t in The Blacklist script. It was improv by Arison.

Producers appreciated Arison’s improv skills

As mentioned previously, Amir Arison was not supposed to have a long-lasting role in The Blacklist. But the producers recognized something in him that they felt would work in the show.

Arison sat down with The Actor’s Audience to talk about his audition process for The Blacklist and his first days on the set. Apparently, the actor also used improv in his audition. Arison said, “I remember the reader jumped a line, and she was about to restart. And I was like, ‘It’s OK. We’re downloading. Hold on.’ And just improv-ed. And they started laughing. I just did everything that was written and threw in a couple of sprinkles of [improv].”

Arison’s ability to improv landed him the role of Aram. But his humor also convinced the producers and writers to give Aram a bigger part in The Blacklist. During the interview, Arison explained the behind-the-scenes story for his improv scene in “Wujing.” He said, “They did not yell ‘cut’ once, I remember. Parminder [Nagra] and Diego [Klattenhoff] had to run out of the room, I gave them a location, and they didn’t yell ‘cut.'”

The Blacklist star Amir Arison continued, “I knew that they could cut right there at any moment they wanted, so I kept going. And I started improv-ing. I even made myself laugh. And then, when the episode came out, they kept it. The writers were like, ‘Oh, this guy can be funny. We can write to that.’ And then, all of a sudden, I started coming back, and I started seeing jokes in my most natural rhythm and humor. I was like, ‘This is the miracle people talk about.'”


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Is Amir Arison leaving ‘The Blacklist’?

The Blacklist star Amir Arison got cast to star in an upcoming Hulu miniseries, The Dropout. It’s unclear if filming for his new series will overlap with The Blacklist. But it’s unlikely that Arison is leaving the NBC show, given his character’s latest storyline.

Aram struggled over the decision to leave the FBI in The Blacklist Season 9 after another opportunity came his way. But, in the end, he chose to stay with the FBI.

Fans can watch Amir Arison in The Blacklist on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.