Mahershala Ali is strict when it comes to performing sex scenes. He opened up about him having to limit how far he takes it when he is in front of the camera during a chat with Common for the “Mind Power Mixtape” Podcast on Audible. The Oscar-winning actor said that he first revealed he wasn’t into doing sex scenes when he was filming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button alongside Taraji P. Henson in 2008.
“’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,'” he said about playing Tizzy Weathers. “I don’t do simulated sex.”
Ali said he doesn’t do those type of scenes because he adheres to his Muslim religion faithfully. He said he was able to continue filming the movie because the film’s director, David Fincher, was respectful of his wishes.
“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.”
Ali converted to Islam in the 2000’s, even though he was raised as a Christian. He spoke about how his mother, an ordained minister, reacted to the news that he was converting to Muslim when he accepted his award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2017.
“My mother is an ordained minister,” he said. “I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do back flips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. 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.”