-- Mahershala Ali said he’s never felt as connected to a character as he did playing Juan in the critically acclaimed film, “Moonlight.”
“A lot of actors wish they were having a visceral response to the scripts that they’re reading. And the first time I read it, I think everyone involved will tell you they got really choked up and just really connected to this story and these characters,” Ali, 42, who just won a Critics Choice award for the role, said on “Good Morning America” today.
Ali plays Juan, a warm-hearted drug dealer who mentors young Chiron, taking him under his wing to escape the perils he faces of his drug-addicted mother at home and bullies taunting him at school.
“I think a lot of people feel like they’re on the fringes right now. A little bit outside and away from center, and not necessarily represented in the most truthful or most connected way,” he said. “Even though I think there’s very few people in general that can specially connect to Chiron’s experience, I think in some way all of have been ‘the other,’ the person on the outside, maybe not persecuted to the degree that this young man is, but I think we all want to be loved and embraced and need connection and support and family and mentorship. And I think people are seeing that and recognizing the humanity in every individual.”
The actor, who was also working on “House of Cards” and “Luke Cage” while shooting “Moonlight,” said each time he’d travel to a new city to work on another role, he “kept thinking about Juan and really missing that character.”
“Missing him during the process of shooting it, and then mourning him later,” he explained. “And because of this sort of awards tour, and us getting to share the film so much with people, he’s back with me so I get to think about him.”