It is not the same to achieve fame after a certain age. The few that happen to them tend to see popularity as something temporary, an interesting phenomenon to be grateful for perhaps, but one that does not define them, much less elevates them. Mahershala Ali, the 44-year-old actor who has gone from being a television secondary in House of Cards Y Luke Cage to win the Oscar for Moonlight Y be nominated again this year by Green Book¸ It's a good example. If asked what the statue has changed and become one of the most followed actors of the moment, Ali responds slowly: "The Oscar has given them permission to hire me. Before maybe they also wanted to do it but now I have enough international recognition to be released. They listen to my ideas and they take me seriously, they respect my work. " And where has the coveted statuette? Same pause: "It's wrapped in plastic balls because I just moved."
"My grandfather was a policeman"
Ali has used his fame not to knock on the doors of Marvel or another millionaire check dispenser, but to return to television. "For a long time, I do not care about the medium," he shrugs. In particular, he insisted on getting the producer's attention Nic Pizzolatto and star in the third season of his afflicted police saga, True Detective. The result can be seen on Mondays on HBO. "I had to fight for the role," he recalls. "My grandfather was a policeman in the sixties and seventies. I took Nic pictures of him. I explained what the story would win if the character was black. And he heard me, "he explains. Ali was adamant that this project was for him. "It's the best thing I've read. All a piece of work. A movie of eight hours of good, which does not let you do anything else while you see it, "he explains. And he insists that if the television calls him again, he will be there. "I have no desire to sign up for a series for years in which I can not have control. But something of the quality of True Detective, anytime".
Ali lends his characteristic mix of tough guy with a vulnerable look to detective Wayne Hays, the role, according to him, hardest of all he has done, but also the one that has brought him the most satisfaction in his career. "I always wanted to play the role of a detective. Resolve a case, "he says. His desire translated into seven months of filming in Arkansas with 18-hour days. And he started it as soon as he finished his work in Green Book, which allowed him to put into practice what he had learned from his partner, Viggo Mortensen. "He's someone from my rope, obsessed with detail. For him there is no small detail. Like him, I gave myself permission to be extraordinarily meticulous with my work, "he recalls.
Part of the difficulty of the paper lay in the script. Ali is required to do three jobs in the series. He plays the same role but in three moments of his life, in the eighties, in the nineties and nowadays. That is, a forty-something, a fifty-something and an old man thanks to the artists of the Hollywood dressing rooms. "They were between four or five hours of daily makeup, up to six, and one to remove it, plus many retouching," he says. "But it was worth it. Somehow you feel restricted, the makeup weighs, it gives heat, but on the other hand it tells you who you are. And not just the public: myself. "
And precisely of furs and identities, Ali knows enough. Not because he has studied it, is that he is accustomed to being asked one question after another about his race. Which, he stresses, is not up to his white colleagues. "While they talk about their work, I have to talk about religion, racism or discrimination," he laments. He, who has already seen several of his relatives involved in drug trafficking; that before arriving here he has overcome a depression lady; who is the first Muslim to win the Oscar, is not an interviewee precisely lacking in things to talk about. "People assume that I am like John in Moonlight when the truth is that I have as much in common with him as with Remy in House of Cards, Cornell in Luke Cage, Don Shirley in Green Book or Wayne Hays. Nothing. I am an actor". Actor first, famous later. A curious phenomenon, but of which he is grateful. "Being black the only way to live a life without fright is to be famous."