EXCLUSIVE: The Blacklist is saying farewell to two series regulars, including one of NBC drama’s longest-serving cast members, Amir Arison. The actor, who has portrayed Aram Mojtabi for the past nine seasons, is leaving as he is preparing to make his Broadway debut this summer in the starring role of Amir in The Kite Runner.
Also departing is Laura Sohn, who has portrayed FBI agent Alina Park for the past three seasons. Both characters’ exits were revealed at the end of tonight’s Season 9 finale.
While Arison is leaving as a series regular, the door remains open for him to make guest appearances in Season 10. His departure comes a year after another major Blacklist cast exit in the Season 8 finale when original female lead Megan Boone signed off.
“I have been so honored to play Aram Mojtabai for 9 years on The Blacklist,” Arison said in a statement to Deadline. “It is not lost on me how lucky I am to have been able to work and evolve with a role for 9 years with this extraordinary cast, crew, writers and producers. I could not pass up the opportunity, however, to fulfill a childhood dream of being on Broadway playing ‘Amir’ in The Kite Runner with a stage adaptation that is both breathtaking and timely. The producers, studio and network have been so supportive of my decision, and Aram remains ‘alive’ with the potential for a possible return at some point. Story-wise, it feels so organic with the events of this past season to take this step, and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
SPOILER ALERT: Beyond this point, there are details about the Season 9 finale of The Blacklist.
In the finale (more details on that later), Aram announced that he is taking some time off and plans to “maybe [catch] a Broadway show” as he steps back after an intense story act that culminated in the recent episode “The Bear Mask,” which highlighted the importance of mental health.
Arison joined The Blacklist as a recurring in Season 1 and was promoted to series regular in Season 2. He was one of four Season 9 series regulars who had been on the show since Season 1, alongside star James Spader as well as Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix and Hisham Tawfiq.
“Amir has been a huge part of The Blacklist family,” executive producer/showrunner John Eisendrath said in a statement to Deadline. “He’s a great actor and an even better person. We wish him well and hope he can return to reprise the role for some very special episodes next year.”
Sohn joined The Blacklist in Season 7 as a recurring and was promoted to series regular beginning with Season 8. She is leaving the series to pursue other projects.
Tonight’s season 9 finale opens with Harold (Lennix), Dembe (Tawfiq), Red (Spader) and Alina (Sohn) on the hunt for Marvin (Fisher Stevens), who is later discovered on a private jet set to take off for Cuba. Marvin is taken into custody and presents a deal to Cynthia (Deirdre Lovejoy) to replace Red on the Task Force and have him arrested. Marvin tells Cynthia that he would start a new task force and provide a steady stream of criminals to Justice. Red later threatens to kill Marvin, who orchestrated Elizabeth Keen’s killing, but Marvin ends up taking his own life, shooting himself to death in a car after he’s released from custody.
At the end of the episode, with Marvin now dead, Cooper cleared of charges in connection with the death of Doug Koster, and the Reddington Task Force set to continue, the team gathers at Liz’s gravesite to mark the third anniversary of her death. While memorializing Liz at the cemetery, Aram announces to the team that he’s decided to take some time away.
“It’s been three years since we lost Elizabeth. In some ways, it’s gotten easier. But in most ways, it still hurts,” Aram says. “There goes my hope of doing this without crying … And this part won’t be any easier. After a lot of careful reflection, I have decided to take some time away. I do not know how long, but I do know…away.”
He continues, “My plan is no plan. I found a cool place in Brooklyn. I’m gonna go up there and just you know ride my bike, do New York, eat lots of pizza, look at the people, maybe a Broadway show. Anyway, I know we are here to talk about Elizabeth, but I’ve been wanting to tell you guys.”
Sohn’s Alina also announces to the team in one of the final scenes that she’s pregnant, and after an appointment with the Bureau’s neurologist, tells them that is likely the cause of headaches she’s been experiencing and that have worsened recently, but until the cause is known for sure, she’s decided to take a medical leave.
In the final scene, we see Chin Han reprising the role of Wujing, one of the very first Blacklisters from Season 1, escape from prison, having learned from Marvin that Red is actually an FBI informant responsible for his imprisonment. Wujing, now free, instead of returning home, sets his sights on killing Red – but he won’t do it alone. He has a list provided by Gerard of other Blacklisters he can recruit to take on Reddington – setting the stage for Season 10.
The Blacklist is produced by Sony Pictures Television Studios and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group. Eisendrath, series creator Jon Bokenkamp, John Davis and John Fox of Davis Entertainment, Spader, Lukas Reiter, Laura A. Benson, Daniel Cerone, Sean Hennen, Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper are executive producers.
Arison leads and narrates The Kite Runner, based on the NYT bestselling novel, a haunting tale of friendship spanning cultures and continents. Set in Afghanistan, it centers on a man’s journey as he confronts his past and finds redemption. Following a West End run, the play will begin performances July 6 for a limited run through Oct. 30, with opening night set for July 21.
On TV, Arison also recently appeared in Hulu’s limited series The Dropout starring Amanda Seyfried. His other TV credits include recurring and guest appearances on shows including Law & Order: SVU, American Horror Story, Ramy, Billions, Bull, Homeland and Girls. On the film side, he recently starred in the indie drama 20 Weeks.
Arison is currently directing a docuseries about working with 8-year-old cancer survivor Tatianna Bernard on the making of Tati’s Fashion Show and its impact on her health and family life. He is the recipient of the Mendez Award from MIFF, given to an individual in the entertainment industry who uses their platform to give back, and also recently received the SJFF Pomegranate Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sohn also has guest-starred in NCIS: New Orleans, God Friended Me and Instinct.