GALO: You’ve been in a lot of great shows at a time when critics keep pulling out the term “Golden Age of TV.” What are your thoughts on why that may be; what is it that’s putting today’s television over the edge?

AA: I really do think it’s a golden era of TV. As a fan of theater, film, and television and working in all of those mediums, I am most excited about what is happening on television — specifically, cable television. There are amazing things on network television, like The Blacklist, which is addictive and fun and exciting, but what’s happening on HBO and Showtime and now on Starz is some of the best writing, directing and acting. I just want to catch up! I’m a huge fan of Breaking Bad, just started Orange is the New Black, have to catch up on Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men — there’s so many series.

I know the new thing is binge-watching, watching a series in its entirety. It’s like a great big epic movie or mini-series and you get to know the characters so much more deeply. I think that’s why it’s the golden age of television, because you get to know a character — so many facets of them — and both the actors and writers get to know them in so many ways and they go to so many unexpected places. It’s not like a set thing, like in a movie or in theater, where you have a beginning and an end. You really don’t know where the end is, so it kind of mirrors life in that way. You don’t know where you’re going to go or where you’re going to end up. I think that’s part of the reason why it’s so exciting. Also, all these wonderful theater writers and screenwriters have moved into television. I really do feel like all the great actors, writers and directors are really floating between the three now.

GALO: You joined Twitter a few weeks ago and now fans are able to reach out to you directly, especially while they’re live-tweeting The Blacklist on Monday nights. What’s it like having that direct mode of communication open now, and how does it compare to seeing the reaction from a live audience in a theater?

AA: I was sort of against Twitter for a long time, and I caved. If I want to be able to improvise, I have to be aware of what is going on in our climate; I need to know what’s relevant. My friend put it to me this way, its 2014 and there’s a party going on and you can either join the party or you can be too cool for the party and miss it. So, I joined! One of the reasons I didn’t want to originally is that in our media age, there’s so much access to everything, and I think there should be some mystery and some anonymity for performers. It’s a magic trick selling a role, making a role look utterly believable. I always wanted to remain behind the curtain as much as I could, but that’s not the world we live in right now. So I decided to participate and have fun with it. The live-tweeting experience was pretty fun, but hard to keep up. I had to watch the episode again because I was getting distracted! It was like a media blitz on my brain.

As far as a live reaction from the audience, I wouldn’t say it compares to a theater experience because that’s a visceral experience, and in this, I’m kind of participating like an audience member.

GALO: Would you say it’s more helpful to have something like Twitter to gauge the show you’re on or your performance, other than the reviews of professional critics, or does that just add more pressure?

AA: I’m learning the answers to that as we go. Coming up in theater, critics are an important part of the industry and I read ’em all. But when you’re doing a show, you have to be very careful (I do at least) about what you read, because the littlest thing can influence your performance — say you’re working something out with a writer or a director or scene partner and people want to critique — it’s a sensitive area.

GALO: You’re playing Rob in the upcoming indie film Jane Wants a Boyfriend — a week in the life of an autistic girl whose older sister helps her find love. Could you tell me a bit about the film and your character — where do you come into play in all of this? What attracted you to being a part of this indie film?

AA: This is a little indie movie that I’m very proud of that was made with a lot of hard work and a lot of heart. When I first got the script, I was first asked to audition for a different character, but I couldn’t go to the audition because I was shooting Girls. So they said they’d see me the following week, and the following week the role was cast. I was asked to try for the role of Rob, the next male lead. At first I had my heart set on the [first] role and Rob was the obstacle, but I went back to the script and looked at it through Rob’s eyes and saw actually that he was juggling a lot in his life, and I realized that I related to that character in a totally different way. I went in and read for it and didn’t think I was going to get the call. But I went on set and had the most amazing experience with director William Sullivan and writer Jarret Kerr. And I got to play Eliza Dushku’s husband, which was exciting! It felt like a little family. When you join a new production and are familiar with so many people, it’s really nice. The girl who plays our title character, Jane, is Louisa Krause, who I’ve known for years in the theater, so it really felt like a little family.

GALO: You’re a big part of the acclaimed Web series H+: The Digital Series, which is about transhumanism. Can you talk a bit about your experience on the show and how you became involved?

AA: At first I was advised not to do it because it was a pilot season and they wanted to send me to Chile. I remember saying, “OK, there’s reasons to do it, reasons not to do it. Do I want to go to Chile for an adventure or stay here for a career?” I went back to the script and read it from beginning to end. I’m in this for great parts, not for the results, and I think this is the greatest part I’ve been given on camera to this date, this is the biggest arc. I had to do it. And I’m so glad I did. I didn’t go for anything other than to have the experience, and I made friends for life — they’re now writing season two, and [the series] ended up winning awards. I now have friends in Chile, Finland, Italy — it’s amazing, if you do things for the right reasons, it gives back in ways that you cannot even imagine.

GALO: You’ve portrayed an array of characters of many different backgrounds — Indians, Arabs, Persians, Armenians – such as in the film The Visitor, or in plays like the Aftermath and Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, and have had plenty of guest roles on TV of a similar nature. Do you yourself gravitate toward roles like these of Middle East influence, or are you approached with them? Or is it a mix of both?

AA: When I started in this business, I quickly learned I better master the various Middle Eastern accents, even though I was born in America and my only language is English. [I realized] that this is how I’m being perceived, so I needed to play the parts as best I could.

But I’m attracted to good work. Whether a character has an Indian, Arab, Israeli, British or Italian accent, if the role is good, that’s what interests me. If the character has something to say, it doesn’t really matter where he’s from. It can be an added excitement, because I’m also a character actor.

GALO: Is there anything you’d like to be a part of in the future, or anyone you’d like to work with that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

AA: I just want to work with great people. There are great people in tiny off-Broadway shows and great people in big movies. I’ll say this, when I worked with Jessica Lange on American Horror Story, I thought, ‘it’s not going to get better than that. That’s it. It’s all downhill from here.’ And then last week, I just had a scene with James Spader. I am still like a little kid in a candy store. I get to act with James Spader? I get to be Frederick Weller’s best friend? I mean it still continues to surprise and excite me.

Catch Amir Arison on NBC’s “The Blacklist” Mondays at 10/9c when the season returns on February 24 and HBO’s “Girls” on Sundays at 10/9c.

Video Courtesy of: HBO.

Video Courtesy of: The Blacklist.

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