Jamie Foxx, the Texas native who first came to fame in the early
’90s with his performances on “In Living Color,”
has gone on to give acclaimed performances in Oliver Stone’s
“Any Given Sunday” and Michael Mann’s
“Ali” and “Collateral.” In his most
impressive performance to date, Foxx gives a stunning portrayal of
Ray Charles in Taylor Hackford’s “Ray.” Between
his ferocious doodling, constant wisecracks and dead-on
impersonations, Foxx discussed the challenge of perfecting Ray
Charles, the evolution of his acting career and a forthcoming
single with rapper Kanye West.

Wasting no time, Foxx was glad to hear that “Ray”
was well received by the audience at a press screening the previous
evening. “That’s great. How great is that for Ray
Charles? He was alive and he got a chance to view the movie before
he passed. He worked with Taylor Hackford for 15 years to get this
story told and I’m glad they waited on me to get my life
together and get a chance to do the film.”

Foxx’s musical training — he began playing the piano
at age three and attended music school in San Diego — was
essential in preparing for the role. Charles and I “sat down
on dual pianos. We started playing Thelonious Monk. ‘Now why
the hell would you do that? Why would you do that? The note is
right underneath your fingers.’”

Foxx’s uncanny ability to channel Charles’s
mannerisms stands out as the most impressive aspect of
“Ray,” and the actor had a distinctive method for
getting the character down pat. “I filmed him while he was
just doing regular things: how he ordered his food, how he talked
to his kids, how he did his business. So in the movie you’re
watching the nuance of him as opposed to the impersonation because
you want to channel him in a sense.”

Throughout the filming Foxx had prosthetics placed on his eyes.
“They were glued shut for 14 hours a day. I hyperventilated
for the first month because you feel trapped. It’s like
someone holding your head under water and, of course, when you feel
like you’re running out of air you’re going to panic` a
little bit. And once you get past the panic you started to enjoy
the darkness of it.”

While Foxx is happy to be focusing on his film career he still
jumps at the chance to dabble in music with his friend,
rapper/producer Kanye West. “I’ve got a song that
I’m going to release pretty soon called ‘You’ve
Still Got It.’ It’s about a young couple. The girl
says, ‘Do I look fat to you?’ She is fat, but
she’s having a baby. She goes in the bathroom crying.”
Breaking into a pitch-perfect falsetto, Foxx gently sings
“I’m still in love with your figure / I’m still
amazed by your smile / Girl, I’m so proud you’re my
lady, havin’ my baby and you’re still drivin’ me
crazy, and girl you still got it / You’re my world
…” Foxx continues “so we’ll roll it up a
little bit, combine it with hip-hop. Get Kanye West on that and
we’ll change the game a little bit.”

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