With the success of Succession and his television series The Accidental Wolf, Tony-nominated actor Arian Moayed has rapidly become a household name.
However, “rising star” and “overnight sensation” would be attributes that fail to properly describe the hardworking, Iranian-born, New York-based actor and activist. These archaic terms are often overused in the film industry and not only do they oversimplify the work that actors do, but they also tend to place an over-importance on “bankability,” a notion less important to Moayed than merit and quality of role. The 20-year veteran’s scene-stealing turn as real-life defense attorney Todd Spodek in the upcoming Netflix limited series Inventing Anna, about a dogged journalist who investigates a disgraced German heiress, further substantiates the leading man-guised-as-a-character actor theory. Or, perhaps he’s a character actor guised as a leading man. Either way one bills his roles is irrelevant – as the larger roles begin to pour in, Moayed is less concerned with the terminology of his craft than he is with surrounding himself with people like him: Talented, driven, and willing to make a positive change in the industry.
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That’s exactly what Shonda Rhimes, creator of Inventing Anna, encapsulates. Initially one of the main draws to the project for Moayed, the script, characters, including Spodek, and serendipity would hold his attention. A husband and father of two, Moayed is also the co-founder of Waterwell, “a group of artists, educators and producers dedicated to telling engrossing stories in unexpected ways that deliberately wrestle with complex civic questions.” Fresh off of 12 days of grand jury duty, Moayed auditioned for Spodek. Once he landed the role, utilizing experience from recently editing down court transcripts for a Waterwell reenactment of a deportation case, he meticulously sorted through Spodek’s court transcripts in the research packet Rhimes sent him, slowly disappearing into the character. The end result is the type of powerhouse performance that typically turns Emmy and Golden Globe voters’ heads.
On the cusp of Inventing Anna‘s release, I spoke with Moayed about the show’s production, working with his childhood crush, Anna Chlumsky, and Julia Garner, Stewy’s potentially pivotal role in season 4 of Succession, Waterwell, progressive representation in theater, finding more multidimensional roles for Middle Eastern, Arab, Muslim, Indian, and Western Asian actors beyond “Terrorist #1” or “Victim #1,” and more.
All nine episodes of Inventing Anna begin streaming on Netflix Friday, February 11.
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix