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Mahershala Ali refused to perform a sex scene with Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for religious reasons.

The Muslim actor agreed to star in director David Fincher‘s 2008 fantasy romance on the condition he would not have to simulate intercourse in a scene featured in the original script.

“So my old agent called me and said, ‘Mahershala, you got the part.’ And I said, ‘There’s just one thing, there is that one sex scene where they kiss. If there’s a sex scene, I can’t do it. I don’t do simulated sex,'” he said during an appearance on rapper Common‘s Mind Power Mixtape podcast.

“(In the final shoot) Taraji and I begin to kiss, and we fall out of the frame. It wasn’t clear if (Fincher) was trying to have like some bumping and grinding, which I doubt he was. But for me even, at that time, 15 years ago, I was still like, ‘OK, I can only go up to this point,’ just because of – just trying to hold a space of respect for my religion.”

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The Oakland, California native was born to a Christian family and was named after a Biblical figure. He converted to the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith as an adult. He married Amatus Sami-Karim in 2013 and the couple welcomed a daughter named Bari in 2017.