Mahershala Ali fought to change lead character's race to black in True Detective season three

Updated: Dec 05, 2018, 21:39 IST | PTI | Los Angeles

Mahershala Ali has revealed that lead part of True Detective season three was actually white and he had to convince creator Nic Pizzolatto to make the character black

Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali

Oscar winner Mahershala Ali has revealed that lead part of True Detective season three was actually white and he had to convince creator Nic Pizzolatto to make the character black. During Variety's Actors on Actors series, the 44-year-old actor said he was offered a supporting part in the new season but he refused to accept it as it was a role that he has always been asked to play throughout his career.

"I could've played that second lead, that supporting career. But in my mind, I was like, 'I've done this my entire career though. I've never done that. At that time, I'm 43 years old. If it don't happen now, it really may not happen," Ali said. Ali said he decided to pitch himself as the lead for ¿True Detective¿ Season 3 and he started sending Pizzolatto a series of photographs of his grandfather, who served as a state police officer.

"I was like, 'See, we existed in this space. In the '60s and the '70s. State police officers,'. I was like, 'I think your story would be served, I think the story would be improved in this case, if this lead character was black,'" he added. The actor said he told the creator that by changing the race of the lead, they will be able to talk racism that blacks experienced in 1980s.

"You're asking someone questions, and (you're) the lead detective. If (they're) white, they might not look at me. When I ask them a question, they're addressing (the white detective)' "Racism is not experienced as the n-word, all the time. It's more like, 'Yo, you wouldn't even look me in the eye.' Or I said thank you and he just brushed me off," Ali said.

He said Pizzolatto took a couple of days to mull over the suggestion and then called him up. "He was like, 'Yo, let's do this," Ali said. In the new season, the actor is playing Wayne Hays, a state police detective from Northwest Arkansas.

It tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods. The series, also featuring Carmen Ejogo, Stephen Dorff, Mamie Gummer, Scoot McNairy, and Ray Fisher in pivotal roles, will premiere on January 13, 2019.

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