There were a few hiccups along the way but at the end of Oscar night, Barry Jenkins' stirring coming-of-age drama Moonlight came out one of the biggest winners, garnering three awards including Best Picture (though Warren Beatty still isn't sure about that). One of Moonlight's stars, Mahershala Ali, took home the award for Best Supporting Actor and a lot of viewers were left wondering, "Who is Mahershala Ali?"
As a matter of fact, Ali has been around for a long time doing mostly TV, so even people who didn't know the name had likely seen him many times before the Oscars. Luke Cage fans certainly know all about Ali after his portrayal of the villainous kingpin Cottonmouth on the Netflix series. The Marvel family was very proud of Ali's Oscar win as they were eager to demonstrate via social media.
Not surprisingly, the Twitter account for Marvel and Netflix's Luke Cage was quick to offer its congratulations to the suddenly famous Ali after his Oscar-night victory was revealed. The account posted a GIF of Ali's character Cottonmouth standing in front of a famous portrait of Biggie Smalls in a crown at such an angle that it looks like Cottonmouth is wearing the crown. Indeed, Ali was king for one night.
— Luke Cage (@LukeCage) February 27, 2017
Outside of Cottonmouth, perhaps Ali's most high-profile pre-Moonlight role was as Frank Underwood's on-again/off-again lieutenant Remy Danton on House of Cards. Ali also played Anthony on HBO's acclaimed-but-little-seen post-Katrina New Orleans series Treme. Ali has experience in big-budget movies too, having appeared as Boggs in both halves of Hunger Games: Mockingjay. And of course he was once in an episode of Law & Order: SVU, because every actor has been in at least one episode of Law & Order: SVU.
Even before winning the Oscar, Mahershala Ali was lining up big roles in high-profile future productions. The biggest of these is the role of Vector the scrapyard boss in James Cameron's production based on the manga Alita: Battle Angel. Ali is also joining the cast of J.C. Chandor's South America-set action-adventure film Triple Frontier with Tom Hardy. There's nothing officially connecting him to the film, but fans have already imagined what Ali would look like as John Stewart in the forthcoming DCEU film Green Lantern Corps.
Considering the wide array of roles he's taken on, there's no doubt about Ali's range. On Luke Cage he plays a stone-cold bad guy, but in Moonlight he plays a much more ambiguous character, a kind man who takes on the persona of a tough guy as a means of survival. Now that he has an Oscar in his back pocket, more producers will be lining up to cast Ali and his wide-ranging talent.
Source: Luke Cage
- Moonlight (2016) release date: Oct 21, 2016