×

After nine seasons on the hit TV series “The Blacklist,” actor Amir Arison’s next step is starring on Broadway in “The Kite Runner.” Which is pretty surprising for a guy who’d decided he was done with theater.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

“I didn’t want to do much stage anymore,” Arison recalled on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. Prior to “The Blacklist,” he’d appeared in several Off Broadway productions, but, he says, “I remember just depleting myself completely and not [being] sure if the rewards outweighed the toll.”

The opportunity to star in “The Kite Runner” first came to Arison in the weeks before “The Blacklist” had been picked up for its 10th season, so he was low-key looking for a job. But he didn’t exactly jump at the chance to play the protagonist of “The Kite Runner,” an Afghan American haunted by an act of cowardice from his childhood in Kabul. “I don’t even like the character,” Arison remembered thinking. “How am I going to get behind this? He makes such a series of decisions that are anathema to my soul and my vibe.”

After an initial audition that he thought he’d bombed, he got a callback — and that’s when the role finally clicked with him.

“It was in that audition, not before it, that I discovered the love inside of [my character],” Arison said. “Before that I still wasn’t in love with the part. I was like, ‘I know my job is to humanize these decisions, to make him understandable in all these horrible anti-hero decision he makes.’ I understood all that. But then I found the love inside and it cracked wide open. I was making discoveries that I never anticipated.”

On Stagecraft, the actor pinpoints the precise scenes that changed his mind in that callback and explains how that cemented his decision to leave “The Blacklist” as a series regular.

“The show got renewed, and just like a week or two before that I had gotten ‘The Kite Runner,'” he said. “And when I got ‘Kite Runner,’ I knew. There was no decision. I had been doing ‘Blacklist’ for so long, and ‘Kite Runner’ was an immense challenge, and I’m an actor and I have to challenge myself and scare myself.”

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and the Broadway Podcast NetworkNew episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.