Ellie Harrison 2
Mahershala Ali talking on a cell phone© Provided by The Independent
Mahershala Ali has reflected on shooting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, revealing that he refused to do a sex scene out of respect for his religion.
The Oscar-winner accepted a role as Tizzy Weathers in the 2008 David Fincher film on the condition he would not have to film an intimate scene with his co-star Taraji P Henson, who played his love interest Queenie.
Speaking on Common’s podcast, Mind Power Mixtape, he said: “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.’”
Ali, who converted to Islam in 1999, recalled telling his agent: “I don’t do simulated sex.”
He added: “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.
“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 supporting role in the film Moonlight.
Speaking about his conversion, he told Radio Times: “I felt I was connecting to something that was making my physical experience more peaceful.”
Fincher’s latest movie Mank, about the making of Citizen Kane, is out now on Netflix.