Best Supporting Actor Motion Picture
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR ‑ MOTION PICTURE
MAHERSHALA ALI ‑ “Green Book”
MAHERSHALA ALI: HFPA, thank you for this honor. My fellow nominees, thank you, appreciate you. Appreciate your work. You know, Dr. Shirley was a brilliant man, and I just want to thank him for his passion, his virtuosity, the dignity in which he carried himself with that inspired me each and every day. Peter Farrelly, thank you for this opportunity, man. I really appreciated collaborating with you every day. And you’re a man of extraordinary patience because ‑‑ between Viggo and myself asking for another take or emailing you at 2:00 in the morning or whatever, you know, thank you. Thank you for your guidance. Viggo, you’re an extraordinary scene partner, and you pushed me every day, man. No days off. No days off. Even the days off weren’t even days off. So thank you, brother. Love you. Linda, it was great ‑‑ even though it was just a little bit, it was great working with you. You’re just the heart of the film and just a beautiful person. So thank you as well. Universal, Jonathan King, Participant, Jim Burke, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, thank you all. Thank you for your work. I really appreciate being here. And lastly, I have to thank my wife, my mother, and my grandmother. I thank you for your prayers. I needed each and every one of them.
Q. You play some amazing characters, very powerful. How do you prepare? Your characters have so many layers. What’s your world like getting in touch with who they are?
MR. ALI: I think about that a lot from the standpoint that I have so much anxiety I have to manage once I say yes. Because I only say yes to something that makes me uncomfortable. When I get a script and the little ego in me pops its collar and says, oh, I can do that, that’s the job I say no to. I say yes to jobs that scare me to some degree.
And I do all my preparation from working with the speech coach who I have had the honor to work with in the last two jobs, Denise Williams. Or lose some weight, gain it a little bit, or doing some piano training or what have you.
At the end of the day, I know when I get in my trailer and I step on set, no matter how well I have my lines memorized, I feel so nervous at that point and all that work goes out the window and for me the only thing that really calms me is prayer meditation.
Q. Who is your favorite author, any book, your favorite character that you would like to portray?
MR. ALI: Well, my favorite book is Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.
In terms of books, I haven’t found — there’s a couple books I want to do that I don’t want to speak on because I have done that before and then there’s an announcement a week later, somebody else is doing it. But my favorite is can Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.
Q. I’m wondering how it feels to win knowing that Dr. Shirley has objected to the film?
MR. ALI: Well I will say this: That my job is always the same. I have to look at what I’m responsible for doing, and all the prayers and energy and time and work, like I’m not one who is going to necessarily throw all that away over things that I have no control over and have nothing to do with.
So I respect the family. I respect Dr. Shirley and his family, and I wish them well. I have a job to do and I have to continue to do my job as I move on to my next project and treat everyone that I work with with respect. And in this case, I didn’t know that they were around. I made contact and I have spoken to the studio and everyone. And I have to move on at this point. But I do wish them well. At the end of the day you wish everybody was happy in any situation. You don’t want anybody to be upset about anything or be offended in any capacity.
So I wish them well and send them my love.
Q. Congratulations on yet another win in your career. How would you describe your last three years in terms of amazing roles, winning tonight and all the great prospects, has it been great for you?
MR. ALI: It has been remarkable and a real positive challenge in terms of just trying to balance other things in my life. Seeing my mom and my grandmother. And, you know, every time I’d see my daughter, I feel like she wasn’t in the house with me because you’re just gone all day.
The challenging thing with me is with the success and opportunity, what comes with that is there’s a tax on one’s family life. My loved ones are very supportive of what I’m doing and it gives me the energy to do a better job the next time I go out there.
Q. Mazel tov, as we say.
MR. ALI: Thank you, brother. Thank you.
Q. We spoke a couple weeks ago. You talk about the transition of going from supporting actor to lead.
MR. ALI: Yeah.
Q. Do you feel that — you know, you just won for supporting role, you’re starting to lead, essentially. Do you feel the transition happening right now for you?
MR. ALI: Well, I feel that there was a time not too long ago when I would never get an offer to lead a project. I still get supporting offers to this day. So I think for me it is just really about sitting back and waiting for the best opportunity, whether that’s a supporting role or a lead role, but wanting to play characters that had originality and depth and are complex and that are challenging for me.
So I think the shift is that — for me the clear shift is having an idea and presenting that to an HBO or studio and them saying, yes, we would like to support that or get behind that.
And I have worked in this business a long time, and within the last couple years I have made some wonderful allies and there’s people who have been supportive of my ideas and get my ideas off the ground. I think that will add to the shift in terms of how present I get to be in the story and even what stories I get to tell to some degree as I get to dip in and out of producing in the future. God willing.
Q. I am going to ask a question no one else is going to ask.
MR. ALI: Okay.
Q. In college you played basketball, former athlete, what is that like playing organized ball, and I know the circumstances you left under, how does that translate, how does that help you navigate this Hollywood space, especially as you are collecting awards and having a nice rise in this industry?
MR. ALI: Thank you. I grew up playing team supports. My first sport, I was a BMX racer, which is not a team sport, but after that I was basically always playing team sports. I have never really understood accomplishing anything without the help of a lot of other people.
So in this case with Viggo Mortensen to Pete Farrelly, but also Kris Bowers who doubled for me and was the composer. And I’m so upset that I forget — there so much was happening up on the stage I forgot to thank Kris Bowers.
But it’s a team sport. We can’t do it without the other person. And so it’s your job to — for me at least, it is about bringing everyone together. It wasn’t about how much you worked on the court and or how much you scored, but it was about your attitude and the energy that you brought to the team.
And so I always try to be very conscious of my energy and what I bring into the room, if I’m either one of those to help uplift the situation or doing something to take away from what something can eventually turn into, and I don’t ever want to be the latter.