In “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1,” Mahershala Ali plays Boggs. He is introduced to us as President Coin’s (Julianne Moore) right hand man. After Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) assumes the role of the Mockingjay, Boggs becomes her personal bodyguard.
At a recent junket for the film, we spoke with Ali about working on the project, “House of Cards,” his dream role, and race in the film and television industry.
Aramide Tinubu: First, I’d like to say congratulations on all of your success. I’ve been watching “House of Cards” and I’m obsessed with “The Hunger Games,” like the majority of America. I’d like to start off by asking how you prepared to become Boggs. At the 2013 Emmy’s, you spoke about working to truly understand the characters that you portray. Boggs has always lived underground. How did you prepare to become him?
Mahershala Ali: One of the first things I wanted to do was change how I felt in my body. I couldn’t change my look because I was finishing up “House of Cards,” so I couldn’t grow out a beard, or grow hair or anything like that; which I would have ideally loved to do. It felt appropriate for the character at the time. So, the best thing I could do was begin to lift weights a little. I had worked on slimming down in the last couple of years just to be able to look like a businessman in a suit for “House of Cards.” So now, I wanted to feel a little bit more present and just different in my body, so I picked up like five to seven pounds, so I was working out quite a bit. And then, going to work, I kind of just changed the environment for myself, sonically. There were a couple of albums I would listen to in my trailer to put me in the headspace of District 13. So I was listening to this Method Man album “Tical,” which came out in like ’94 or ’95. It just sounded appropriate for the piece it sounded like “District 13” to me; in that time, and in this building rebellion. So then I just build. The work that I do with all of my characters is have some sense of where they come from. I kind of create my own story for myself. What’s going on with my parents, are they alive? Or family, do I have children? Do you see those things or not? All the mental work that I have to do to be present and give off a sense of truth that can connect with the audience.
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