Mahershala Ali says he’s embracing the pressure and responsibility of playing Blade in the MCU but that how his character debuts in Chloé Zhao’s Eternals did cause him a little extra anxiety.
We’ve seen a lot of actors make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut this year, from rising star Simu Lui in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to Angelina Jolie herself. Hell, even Harry Styles (yes, that Harry Styles) suited up in The Eternals, if only for a minute. However, while there’s a whole lot of hype surrounding actors making their big MCU debuts, there’s also a whole lot of something we don’t consider as much: anxiety.
Turns out, the stars really are like us, and even Oscar winners are prone to getting in their head about making an appearance in a beloved franchise — just ask Mahershala Ali. Earlier this year, Ali made his MCU debut as the vampire-slaying Blade in The Eternals, delivering one line of dialogue, off-screen during the film’s final moments. However, just because the role was small scale does not mean it was small stakes. In a recent appearance on The Late Show with host Stephen Colbert, Ali revealed he actually “lost sleep” over his role in the film, telling Colbert he didn’t believe in himself.
“You lose a lot of sleep over it. I was losing sleep over this line because, ideally, you want to be talking once you are filming,” Ali told Colbert. “One hundred 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 actually film was challenging.”
While it might seem a small thing to keep the Moonlight and Green Book legend up at night, you have to remember, not many fan bases are as devoted — and particular — as Marvel fans, which has apparently been a major source of stress for Ali. In addition, Ali has some pretty big shoes to fill, as Wesley Snipes take on the Marvel character was pretty beloved in both Blade and Blade II. While Snipes has been vocal about his support of Ali, there’s no denying it’s still a tall order.
“I’ve never walked into a role where the anticipation of it was so great,” he said. “Where people were already so familiar with the character, they have real opinions and points of view and all that. So it feels different. There’s clearly an added layer of pressure, which I will embrace.”
While Ali has technically already made his debut MCU appearance, it is rumored the stars first solo film, Blade, will hit theaters late 2022.
You can watch Mahershala’s interview with Stephen Colbert below.