Conversation with . . . Jamie Foxx

24 04 2009

jamie-foxx1
After winning an Oscar several years ago, Jamie Foxx returns to award-winning form in his latest film, “The Soloist.” Kam Williams sat down with the multi-talented star to discuss his latest project.

Texas native Jamie Foxx was born Eric Marlon Bishop on December 13, 1967 and raised by his grandparents from the age of seven months following the failure of his parents’ marriage. Although he was a star athlete at Terrell High on both the school’s football and basketball teams, he majored in classical music and composition in at the U.S. International University in California.

The versatile actor/comedian/singer/musician/writer/producer/director got his start in showbiz in 1989 when he went on stage on a dare on open mic night and tried his hand at stand up. After spending time on the comedy circuit, he joined Keenan Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Tommy Davidson in the landmark Fox sketch comedy series “In Living Color,” creating some of the show’s funniest and most memorable moments.

In 1996, he launched his own series, “The Jamie Foxx Show,” which was one of the top-rated programs on the WB Network during its five-year run. Jamie not only starred on the series but also was the co-creator and executive producer, and directed several episodes.

He made his big screen in “Toys” in 1992, followed by appearances in “Booty Call” and “The Players Club.” He received critical acclaim for his riveting work and in “Any Given Sunday” and as Bundini Brown in “Ali,” breakout roles which inexorably led to 2004, the Year of the Foxx, when he delivered a trio of powerful performances in “Ray,” “Collateral”and “Redemption: The Stan “Tookie” Williams Story.”

He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles as well as the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), BAFTA and NAACP Image Awards. Jamie simultaneously garnered Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA Award, and Image Award nominations in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Collateral.” And he landed Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations and won an Image Award for his portrayal of condemned gang member-turned-Nobel Peace Prize nominee Williams in “Redemption: The Stan “Tookie” Williams Story.” That amazing feat marked the first time that a single actor has received three Golden Globe nominations and four SAG Award nominations in the same year.

Foxx has since appeared in “Dreamgirls,” “Miami Vice,” “Jarhead” and “The Kingdom,” and will next star in the drama “Law Abiding Citizen” directed by F. Gary Gray. Besides his outstanding work in front of the camera, Jamie has also achieved a thriving career in music. His eagerly-anticipated J Records debut, “Unpredictable,” was nominated for eight Billboard Music Awards, three Grammy Awards, one Soul Train Music Award and two American Music Awards, for which he won Favorite Male Artist. And his second album, “Intuition,” was just released last December to rave reviews.

Here, he talks about his new movie, “The Soloist,” a true story in which he plays Nathaniel Ayers, a Juilliard-trained child prodigy, who ended up homeless after developing schizophrenia. In the film, Ayers is befriended by Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.), an L.A. Times reporter who hears him playing the violin in the park.

Jamie, I loved “The Soloist” and I’m so honored to get this time with you.

Jamie Foxx: Thank you, bro.

My first question is, did you get to meet Nathaniel Ayers on the streets in preparing to portray him?

JF: Yes I did. As a matter of fact, I snuck downtown with a little bit of a disguise and a security cat, and I just hung out right next to Nathaniel. He had no idea that I was watching him. I got a chance to see him speak to the world, and get excited, and be happy, and sad, and play his music. And I saw him preach. Watching that I was able to gather a lot of great information about who this guy was that I was about to play, without hearing anybody’s opinion of him, but just from my firsthand look at him. Later, I was formally introduced to him, and he was on his best behavior. He smiled because he gets it that they were going to do a movie about his life. And then you see him not get it, and wondering, “What’s going n here?” And then he’d swing back around and get it again. So, it was very interesting. And while all that was happening, I had a video camera on my phone that I used to record him the whole time. So, I came home, watched that footage, the footage I filmed when he wasn’t watching, and the footage I filmed when he was aware.

How did you prepare for the role after that?

JF: It was a matter of putting him together. Losing the weight… getting the hair right… getting the makeup right… and going to that place that I have feared going to for a long time, that is, losing your mind.

What made you afraid of that?

JF: As a child I always feared losing my mind. There was a guy in my neighborhood who always walked up and down the street talking to himself. I won’t say his name, but I would always go, “Ooh, that’s scary.” And then, when I was 18, I had a horrible experience when somebody slipped something into my drink. It was a college prank that really went bad, and I hallucinated for 11 months. The doctors said that sometimes people go and they never come back. I was lucky enough to get back, but the way I recovered was by playing music all the time, because I was in a music school. Isn’t it interesting that Nathaniel Anthony Ayers had a similar situation?

To read the rest of Williams’ conversation with Foxx, click here.

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3 responses

24 04 2009
Conversations with . . . Jamie Foxx

[…] Original post by FilmGordon […]

24 04 2009
Topics about Los-angeles » Blog Archive » Nathaniel Anthony Ayers :: New Videos

[…] Conversations with . . . Jamie Foxx « FilmGordon Permalink Comments [0] […]

30 04 2009
Nomad

i’ve heard the Soloist does a great job raising awareness for those who are homeless who might also happen to be mentally unstable; sounds like worthwhile flick

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