By Elizabeth Marcellino
Speaking backstage after winning an Oscar win for his supporting role in “Green Book,” Mahershala Ali said tonight it was the first time he felt such responsibility for a film.
As a central character in a two-man story, Ali was required to be on set nearly every day throughout the shoot.
“It was the first time I had that kind of responsibility,” Ali said, telling reporters at the Dolby Theatre he usually “contribute(s) to stories in a more limited way. … This was the first time I got to stretch my legs.”
And the man he portrayed, classical jazz concert pianist Don Shirley, was very different than Ali.
“I had to let certain things go that were in my personality,” the actor said. “It was constantly … sort of negotiating and finding my way … to finding his essence.”
Though Ali won two years ago for his supporting role in another best- picture winner, “Moonlight,” he said he doesn’t take the statuette for granted.
“It makes me more aware of all the people who have really contributed to my life,” the actor said, from his childhood to the team now working on his behalf.
” The first one (Oscar) helped me get ‘Green Book,”’ he said. “It changes your profile. It gets you in other rooms.”
He said there have been many other milestones since his first win.
“My life has changed tremendously in two years. My daughter just had her 2nd birthday two days ago,” Ali said.
His goal now is just to be as productive as possible.
“I try not to be too hard on myself, but I gotta just go for it and take chances and commit and see how things work out, all with the goal of learning and growing and being stretched.”
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.