If you're like us, you've spent the last several days binging Mike Flanagan's latest terror tale for Netflix, Midnight Mass. And, while this new series features several noteworthy performances, we want to take a moment to applaud Rahul Kohli for his portrayal of Sheriff Hassan.
In Midnight Mass, Kohli's character is the only police presence on Crockett Island. Despite being good at his job, having been a big city detective previously, he's met with suspicion by the Catholic residents simply for being Muslim.
Thus, as the horror and intrigue begins to grow thanks to Monsignor Pruitt's seemingly heavenly acts, Sheriff Hassan is wary to insert himself into the situation. What comes next is a raw and moving monologue about what it is like to be not just Muslim, but a Brown person in a post–9/11 world.
In the sheriff's speech, he details being elevated among the police ranks, only to then be asked to unethically target Arab-American communities. Hassan reveals he questioned this protocol, resulting in a demotion and mistrust from his peers.
And though he was speaking Flanagan's words, Kohli revealed to E! News in an exclusive interview that he resonated deeply with the speech and how his character's life changed after the 2001 terrorist attacks. "The sheriff said he was 21 when the Towers were hit, I was...14 [or] 15," he reflected, "and even we knew things had changed."
He was speaking about the prejudice he faced as a person of color, despite being of Indian descent. "You could feel it, you felt a shift," he shared, "this spotlight on you. And I remember me and my bestest friends in the world, who still are to this day, Mohamed and Mohammed, both Moroccan...the things that were said to them and me, like, we became brothers."
Even though Kohli and his friends were of different cultural backgrounds and religions, they found themselves being targeted because of their skin color. "I remember walking at one point at school," he detailed, "and a group of white boys drove past us and spat on us."
And this was just one of many, many incidents he faced. He also recalled being "terrified" after he was pulled into an interrogation room with his friends at an airport. "We were locked in a room and had our passports taken away," he remembered. "This is at the gate! And then a man in suit came back and said, 'You're good boys,' and put passports back in our hands."
Because of these countless experiences, Kohli knew how important his Midnight Mass speech was, and made sure to do it justice. "We very much feel the effects of it," he concluded. "So yeah, when I was delivering the monologue, I was not only speaking for myself, I was speaking for my friends' experience. It's a heartbreaking speech, [and] it's probably my favorite one I've been given."
Midnight Mass is available to stream on Netflix.