Reflecting on his first major film in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, actor Mahershala Ali says that he refused to film a sex scene in the move because of religious reasons.
On the latest episode of Common’s podcast Mind Power Mixtape on Audible, Academy Award winning actor Mahershala Ali said that he had one major request during the filming of his first major role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The actor says he accepted his role as Tizzy Weathers in the film but only on one important condition: he would not film a sex scene with his co-star Taraji P. Henson. Ali, who is an Ahmadi Muslim, reportedly told his agent at the time that he doesn’t do “simulated sex.”
Instead, the film’s director David Fincher agreed that he would shoot an intimate scene that did not involve sex.
"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," Ali said. "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.”
Following his role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ali went on to star in House of Cards, The Hunger Games, and in the third season of HBO’s hit crime series True Detective. In 2017, Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for his role in Moonlight. He then went on to win his second Oscar in 2019 for his portrayal of Don Shirley in Green Book.