Mahershala Ali Says He Refused to Film a Sex Scene in Benjamin Button for Religious Reasons

Mahershala Ali's first major film role was as Tizzy Weathers in 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

42nd Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards - Arrivals
Mahershala Ali. Photo: LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14: Actor Mahershala Ali attends the 42nd annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards at InterContinental Los Angeles Century City on January 14, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Mahershala Ali is reflecting on his role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

The Oscar winner, 46, revealed on the latest episode of Common’s podcast Mind Power Mixtape that when he accepted the role as Tizzy Weathers in the 2008 David Fincher-directed film, he did so on the condition that he would not film a sex scene with costar Taraji P. Henson.

“So my old agent called me and said, ‘Mahershala, you got the part.’ " Ali recalled, according to Page Six. "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, an Ahmadi Muslim, reportedly said that he told his agent at the time, “I don’t do simulated sex.” But luckily for the Muslim actor, Fincher, 58, agreed to shoot an intimate scene between Ali and Henson, 50, 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.”

Mahershala Ali arrives at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Mahershala Ali.

After starring in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ali garnered attention for his role in House of Cards, and was featured as Boggs in The Hunger Games film series. He also starred 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 as mentor and drug dealer Juan in Moonlight. He went on to win his second Oscar at the 2019 awards show for his portrayal of Don Shirley in Green Book, becoming the first Black actor to win two Academy Awards in the same category.

Mahershala Ali.

During Marvel's 2019 Comic-Con panel, Ali made an appearance to announce that he will star as the titular character in a new Blade movie.

The role marks Ali’s second foray into the Marvel world after having previously made a memorable villainous turn in the first season of Luke Cage.

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