Ali converted to Islam while getting a master’s degree in acting at NYU.
Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali accepted a role in the 2008 David Fincher film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — on the condition that he wouldn’t have to film a sex scene with co-star Taraji P. Henson, as it would go against his religion.
He said on Common’s podcast “Mind Power Mixtape:” “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 while getting a master’s degree in acting at NYU, recalled telling his agent, “I don’t do simulated sex.”
In the final shoot, “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.”