EXCLUSIVE: Aldis Hodge Talks 'Underground' Nude Scenes and Fanning Out Over Mahershala Ali
By Meredith B. Kile
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In Underground, Aldis Hodge bares his soul as Noah, a slave who makes the decision to escape from a Georgia plantation. However, the actor wasn’t exactly ready to bare his body for a recent nude scene on the WGN America series.
“I was not prepared for the fully nude scene,” Hodge recently admitted to ET’s Courtney Tezeno. “I didn't know I was going to be hanging all out. And that was the very first scene we shot the first day… Talk about no time to prepare.”
The 30-year-old star joked that he prepared for the scene with “a lot of fear and a lot of prayer,” but admitted he’s also a stickler for a regular exercise routine, which includes weightlifting and “pushups in between camera setups.” Working out, Hodge explained, is essential for a starring role on a “very physical” show like Underground, which follows the Macon 7 as they make their way to freedom.
“We're always fighting, running through the woods, jumping, riding horse carriages, doing something,” he explained. “Naturally, I like to stay fit just for health reasons, [but] there's a different degree of fitness when it comes to working on a set 18 hours a day, doing action scenes.”
When he’s not working hard on Underground, Hodge is carving out roles in acclaimed films like Straight Outta Compton and Hidden Figures. And while he’s been in the business for over two decades, the actor admitted to having a bit of a moment on the set of Hidden Figures, which also starred Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.
“I'm not a starstuck dude. I’ve been in this game too long for that, but I do respect and acknowledge real work and real work ethic,” Hodge said of working with Ali. “[He’s one of those] really truly avant garde artists who kind of creates their own lane and you just see and know one of these days it's going to catch on and people are going to recognize it. He just has that way about him.”
“I respect him as a person, as an actor, and I was just happy to be working alongside really great actors,” he added. “Because selfishly, that's how I grow as a performer myself. It also reminds me that I may be on the right path. If I'm in the room with this caliber of person, I may be making some smart decisions or getting really, really lucky.”
After starring alongside Ali and Janelle Monae in Hidden Figures, Hodge had a special appreciation for their other much-lauded project, Moonlight. But he admitted to feeling conflicted over the Best Picture mix-up at this year’s Academy Awards, especially because Underground executive producers John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius all had a hand in the production of La La Land.
“I felt really, really bad for the producers and the whole team,” Hodge admitted. “However, I do love how gracious and conscious the producers were with La La Land… That was a teachable moment, and I think a lot of people are going to learn from that experience. Like, you know what, it's OK to congratulate somebody else when it's their moment. It's good to acknowledge someone when it's their time. You have to.”
“And then again, I felt bad for Moonlight, because they didn't get their time,” he added. “I'm happy that Moonlight won for what it represents nationally and culturally. It's nice that that film was recognized right now because we need to engage more tolerance and more understanding and more cultural growth and evolution in how we see Americans who are black, how we see Americans who are gay, how we see Americans who are living in impoverished societies where they need help.”
See more from ET’s interview with Hodge in the video below.
Underground airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on WGN America.