Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali has almost no restrictions on what type of character he’ll play in a film. However, the 46-year-old recently revealed there is undoubtedly one thing you’ll most likely never see him do in his movies.
During an appearance on the “Mind Power Mixtape” podcast with host and rapper Common, the “House of Cards” star revealed that when it came to taking on a new role, he refused to do any sex scenes, as that would go against his religion.
While reflecting on his role as Tizzy Weathers in the 2008 David Fincher-directed film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the actor told Common, “So my old agent called me and said ‘Mahershala, you got the part. “And I said, ‘There’s just one thing: There is that one sex scene where they kiss. If there’s a sex scene, I can’t do it.'”
However, Ali told his agent that he didn’t do “simulated sex.” In the 2000s, the Ahmadi Muslim actor converted to Islam, although he was raised as a Christian. Ali revealed that, fortunately, Fincher agreed to shoot the intimate scene between him and co-star Taraji P. Henson in a way that didn’t involve sex.
The “Green Book” star said, “Taraji and I begin to kiss, and we fall out of the frame … It wasn’t clear if [Fincher] was trying to have like some bumping and grinding, which I doubt he was.” He continued, “But for me even … at that time, 15 years ago, I was still like, ‘OK, I can only go up to this point,’ just because of — just trying to hold a space of respect for my religion.”
In 2017, Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for his role as mentor and drug dealer Juan in the 2016 film “Moonlight.” While accepting his award at the Screen Actors Guild awards show in 2017 for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role, the actor shared how his mother, an ordained minister, reacted to the news of him converting, saying, “She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago.” He added, “But I tell you now, you put things to the side, and I’m able to see her, and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutia. It’s not that important.”
Ali’s next role will find the actor in the boxing ring, as he is set to portray, Jack Johnson, the first Black person to become heavyweight champion, in an upcoming limited HBO series. The six-part series is titled “Unruly.” It will focus on Johnson’s journey to the summit of boxing and his experiences as an outspoken Black fighter in the early 1900s.
Variety reported that Ali would be producing the release through his Know Wonder production company alongside his wife Amatus Karim Ali and their producing partner Mimi Valdés. No word on when the project will premiere.