‘True Detective’: What Other TV Shows and Movies Has Mahershala Ali Been In?

Will Mahershala Ali save True Detective? After a much-maligned second season, the HBO show is back for Season 3, with Oscar-winner Ali in the leading role. So far, critics have praised his performance as detective Wayne Hays, though it remains to be seen whether the crime drama will recapture all the magic of the first season.

One thing is certain: Ali’s fans have plenty of other places to look to see more of the acclaimed performer. Since his first big role as Dr. Trey Sanders on the first season of NBC’s Crossing Jordan, he’s appeared in dozens of films and TV shows. Here are some of the highlights.

Mahershala Ali TV shows

Mahershala Ali poses with his trophy during the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019. | Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Ali’s first Hollywood role on Crossing Jordan was followed by other parts on network shows. He popped up on episodes of crime dramas like NYPD Blue, CSI, and Law and Order: SVU and had regular roles on Threat Matrix (a short-lived show from 2003 about a group of counter-terrorism agents) and on three seasons of the sci-fi drama The 4400. He also had a recurring role as a federal agent on the SyFy network show Alphas and appeared on six episodes of Treme.

While Ali showed up regularly on people’s TV screens, he made his biggest splash in Netflix’s House of Cards. From 2013 to 2016 he played lawyer and lobbyist Remy Danton. He followed that with a memorable six-episode arc as the villain Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stoke on Marvel’s Luke Cage before joining the cast of True Detective.

Mahershala Ali movies

Ali’s first film role was in a 2003 movie call Making Revolution. In 2008, he had a small part in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, where he was credited, as he was for most of his early roles, as Mahershalalhashbaz Ali. (He later shortened his name to Mahershala.)

He played a soldier in Predators, the third movie in the Predator franchise, and also appeared in Crossing Over, a 2009 movie starring Harrison Ford, and The Place Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. In the last two movies in the Hunger Games franchise he played Katniss’s bodyguard Boggs.

After starring opposite Matthew McConaughey as a runaway slave named Moses Washington in The Free State of Jones, Ali appeared in Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning Moonlight. He played Juan, a drug dealer and father figure to the main character Chiron. Ali won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work, becoming the first Muslim actor to win the award.

After Moonlight, he played Cross in Roxanne Roxanne, a biopic of Roxanne Shanté, and provided the voice for The Prowler in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He also won a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe in 2019 for his role as Don Shirley in Green Book.

What’s next for Ali?

Ali’s next movie in theaters will be Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel, an adaptation of the Japanese manga Gunnm. It will hit theaters on February 14. After that, it might be a while before you see Ali on screen again. The actor told The Guardian that he decided to take a break after filming Green Book. He wanted to spend more time with his family – his daughter was born just days before Ali won his Academy Award in 2016 – and give his wife, the artist Amatus Sami-Karim, time to focus on her own career.

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