Mahershala Ali Says He’s Embracing ‘Added Layer of Pressure’ That Comes With Playing Blade

The 'True Detective' and 'Swan Song' star is playing the celebrated vampire hunter in a new MCU entry. Here, he goes deep on the process with Colbert.

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Mahershala Ali, whose new sci-fi drama Swan Song hits Apple TV+ later this month, joined Stephen Colbert for an extended sit-down on Thursday night during which Blade prep was discussed.

As fans have known since 2019, the True Detective alum is set to take on the role of the revered vampire hunter in an upcoming Phase Four MCU entry.  Earlier this year, audiences were given a tease by way of an Eternals voice cameo. Speaking with Colbert, Ali detailed how his “entry into superherodom” is going so far.

“It is weird because the anticipation is so great,” Ali said around the 3:45 mark in the video above. “My excitement for any role is pretty equal, honestly, because I feel the responsibility is always the same. But I’ve never walked into a role where the anticipation of it was so great, where people are already so familiar with the character and have real opinions and points of view, all that. So it feels different. There’s clearly an added layer of pressure, which I will embrace.”

As for the inherent difficulty of debuting his take on the character with a voice cameo, the two-time Academy Award winner revealed that he was “losing sleep” over it prior to recording.

“Ideally, you know, you want to be talking once you are filming,” he said. “100 percent of the time, my first day on any set on any job, I hate it. I hate how I sound, I don’t believe myself. You’re trying to get comfortable in the character, so to have to talk before you’ve been actually filming was challenging but I’m grateful for it because it made it feel real.”

Moving forward, Ali said he has a regimen in place to “get swole” for the part, joking that he’s going to incorporate Colbert’s personal workout plan. The host joined in on the joke, noting that this would amount to ingesting only “coffee and Ricola.”

Later, the two got into an extended discussion about the themes explored in Swan Song, as well as Ali’s Green Book co-star Viggo Mortensen’s history of being a “crow whisperer.” See more below.

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Benjamin Cleary’s cloning-focused Swan Song, also starring Awkwafina and Naomie Harris, is out Dec. 17. See the trailer below.

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