Mahershala Ali Eloquently Details the Way He Selects His Roles (Exclusive)

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Despite the controversies surrounding his film, Green Book, Mahershala Ali has managed to come through this awards season not only unscathed, but sweeping a Best Supporting Actor win in all of the major shows for his performance so far. 

ET’s Keltie Knight caught up with the star right before he picked up a 2019 Screen Actors Guild Award for the role, and asked him about how he goes about selecting his award-worthy parts. 

"I think my choices are just a natural outgrowth of how I try to live my life,” Ali tells ET. "I try to be conscious of my diet holistically, whether it’s the actual food you put in the body or what it is that you’re watching. So when I read projects of when I find myself drawn to something it’s really pretty much in alignment with a larger consciousness that I try to live with.” 

The 44-year-old actor, who won an Oscar in 2017 for his role in Moonlight, went on to note that not all of his films have been as praised as award season victories. 

"I’m not always successful. I’ve got projects out there that I wish did a lot better or that I wish turned out a lot better even, but I’m grateful to even have agency or to have a choice,” he said. 

As for Green Book, Ali thinks the film has had a lasting impact on viewers long after they leave the theater. In the film, which is based on a true story, Ali portrays classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley who hires working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) to drive him around on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

"I think when people actually go and experience the film for themselves, I think they tend to go and tell people about it,” Ali noted. "So to me, that tells me that it’s resonating with people, more importantly after the fact as opposed to before walking into the theater.”

For more exclusives from this year’s SAG Awards, watch the clip below: 


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