Mary J. Blige on stripping down for ‘Mudbound’: ‘I didn’t know I was beautiful for real’

Mary J. Blige attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

Mary J. Blige is up for an Academy Award for her role in Mudbound, but she told New York Magazine in an interview that she was not exactly enthusiastic when she first took on a more natural look to play the part of Florence Jackson.

Blige, who described herself as “addicted to lashes” had to leave her wigs and makeup behind to be a sharecropper’s wife in Jim Crow Mississippi.

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“I’m Mary J. Blige. I mean, like, this is what I do. I wear wigs, I wear bob wigs, and I had to completely strip down to my own natural hair texture, which I’ve always been afraid of,” she said. “Dee [Rees] stripped me down all the way to what I truly am, and people were complimenting me. People were saying how beautiful I was. I didn’t know I was that beautiful for real. You understand what I’m saying? I didn’t know that.”

Blige became Florence Jackson

But Rees’ gamble paid off. He told the magazine that she was so involved in the character of Florence that many of the extras didn’t even put together her identity. She even knew all the other lines in addition to her own.

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“She had this vulnerability and reserve,” Rees said. “She could feel much and withhold much. There were just moments of stillness and her silences — this dark commentary she could say under her breath. A lot of actors tend to be very aware of their surroundings. She would just go perfectly still, and she was in her head. Just sitting, thinking.”

Blige said that she surprised herself with the role.

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“Everyone I see, they say, ‘Oh, my God, you were so great. I didn’t know.’ They didn’t know I had whatever they’re seeing in me; they didn’t know I could pull it off,” she told the magazine. “To be quite honest, I didn’t even know I did that good.”

“This is the next chapter. This is why I’m just so humbled and grateful, because I’ve been praying for this and asking for this and it’s here, outside of all this foolishness that’s happening right now.”

You can check out the full interview here.