Jamie Foxx: From Booty Call to Getting Much Booty - The Journey of Jamie

posted August 16, 2006 12:00:00 AM CDT | 1 comments

Its been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Jamie Foxx in the years since winning the Oscar for his portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles. From the immense failure of Stealth to the meager $25 million opening weekend for Miami Vice, director Michael Manns slick re-imagining of his classic TV series, Foxx has seen his fair share of bumps in the Hollywood road, but the former In Living Color funnyman seemed to maintain his trademark sense of humor and winning smile during our recent interview.

Youve had a fairly broad and varied film career, from the Booty Call era...

I still don't understand why we got overlooked at the Oscars!

...to films like Ray. Could you talk about that arc?

It's been a great ride. If you look at In Living Color, you see the training ground. Those guys were doing things-- I laugh even harder now-- and they were doing things that weren't just jokes in your face, but real characters. We were trying to make them more than one-dimensional, so it was a great training ground, being under Keenan (Ivory Wayans) and Damon and Jim Carrey and all of those cats. So now Im happy that I had that background and those tools. You do Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, knock off the funny and actually DO the character, then let it play out like it's played out. It really makes you feel good on the inside for whatever's coming next, knowing you're going to be able to get into it and try to make it happen for you.

Have you ever had moments where you thought you'd quit?

Oh yeah, man. I moved to Vegas right after In Living Color. I couldn't get any work, and it was like if you lived in L.A., you've got to have your shine on. I remember seeing this girl at the Comedy Store, and this is when I knew it was time for me to get out. This girl was walking towards me, and I was like, Oh yeah, she's probably been watching the show! She says hi. I say hey. She says, Do you know where Chris Tucker is? I said no, and she looked back and said, You look so familiar. And I was like, oh man, my shine is gone! I had gotten so into myself because I thought everybody was watching the show. I remember going up on stage and doing rich jokes in front of these folks from the hood. Yeah man, I just got that Range Rover. Anybody else? My house went into Escrow. Anybody? Man, it's crazy when your house go on escrow! It was like, What are you talking about?! I walk off stage, and I'm outside the club talking to somebody when I hear the doors open and [makes sound of audiences roar]. Who is that? What are they laughing about? I walked in, and it was Chris Tucker, and he was killing em. I sat down and I said, That's what I need to do go back and find what it is that I do, because Id lost it. So I moved to Vegas, and found out the WB was looking for shows. So we went there and did The Jamie Foxx Show, and I got a brand new start. I said, I don't want to ever slip like that again. Years went by and I'm in the Laugh Factory, and they bring out Chris Tucker. He had a suit on and he was telling rich jokes. I wonder if you girls really love me for me, or for my money. I went to him and said, I see what's happening. You've gotta go back and get it! And I challenged him, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac. I said, Don't lose that, because once you do, it's hard to get it back.

How have perceptions changed in the industry since you've won the Oscar?

I don't know if it's necessarily that the perception has changed. But what you have to do every day is kill that Oscar beast and go out and try to take two or three steps back and not be the ugly person that, I guess, it could turn you into. The way I've done that is just kept telling jokes about it. If you feel like youve won the Oscar and you're at the top of your game, you're at the top of the mountain. Then you come off the elevator and there's a brother going, Hey Jamie, man, congratulations on that Grammy, dog! I mean, you did your thing, dog! Hey, what song was that they acknowledged you for?" (Laughter) It lets you know that everybody ain't feelin' it. So you bring it back down and you use the Oscar for those things that you really wanted. Now they're offering great roles, and what's great is we create [opportunities] on the dribble.

Are you more selective in the roles you take?

Yeah, that's what I mean. It's like when they talk about the Oscar Curse. When I say create off the dribble, that's a person in basketball that has to come off the screen and shoot it, meaning that somebody's got to set up the shot for him. With us, we create off the dribble: We do standup comedy, so we can go to our left; we do music, so we can go to our right; we can write movies, so we can go around our backs. You know, we can shoot the three. So we use it as our tool and try not to bastardize it, because sometimes I've used it for the wrong things.

Speaking of which, how is your pickup with the ladies since the Oscars?

It's changed drastically. I bought a Lamborghini, too. It's crazy. I think it's a different type of women [you attract] when you win an Oscar. All the young ladies in the club, I ain't messing with you right now. I got this over here the 35 and over women with their own companies. They break down everything: You know, that night I was soooo touched. I say, Girl, I'm gonna touch you again! I'll never forget the joke I told Will Smith...

"I'm making love to this girl right after I won the Oscar. She said, 'Oh, Jamie!' I said, 'No, no, no that's not my name!' 'Oh, Academy Award Winner Jamie Foxx!'"

So I'll tell you, if you ain't got [an Oscar], get you one.

So what attracted you to the idea of doing Miami Vice?

The hotness of this idea. When I talked to Michael Mann, and just learned about who Michael Mann was, I made a couple rookie mistakes, saying, "Why don't you do Miami Vice? You did it as a television show. We could get Jay-Z [to do the music], and we could do this and that..." He was like, "Get out of here!" But after enough of me going up to him and saying, "Look, I really think that this is a great opportunity for you to take a commercial hit a franchise and bring the real film capability that Michael Mann has together," he agreed. So now we're all protected, in the sense of we're doing a big-time summer movie, but it's still held together by the Michael Mann way of thinking.

Do you think the film will make people forget the iconic imagery of the TV show? How challenging was it for you to step into another actors shoes?

Not everybody is thinking about the TV series, because I don't think people are actually remembering every single episode. This is a different thing, and I don't think they're going to be comparing the two. I always view things like this: What do I want to see when I'm in the movie theater? I'm not quite as deep as Michael Mann is, in that sense. I've got my popcorn, I'm sitting there thinking, "What would be hot to see right now? A car, two guys in Miami, Jay-Z on the soundtrack and something is going down." Not everybody is relating back to what they saw [in the 80s]. They know what happened years ago, but they're ready to see what the new thing is. I believe this movie is high risk, high return because you do go away from what you think Miami Vice is. It's like watching the dunk contest today: You can't go in and do the Dr. J dunk anymore, because you're kinda past that. But if you're wearing Dr. J's jersey and you bounce it off the backboard from the back, and then you dunk it, you've got the spirit of Dr. J and yet you changed it. Did that do it for you? [Laughs]

Can you talk about your next movie, Dreamgirls?

At first I wasn't going to do it. They didn't know what was going on. Then I found out that Eddie Murphy was doing it, Beyonce was on it... I said, Come on, man, I've got to GET THAT! I don't care if you pay a dollar, I need to be in that! Because it's going to be outstanding.

You were so great as Ray Charles. Would you ever do more musical biopics, like maybe Marvin Gaye or Rick James?

I always thought the Marvin Gaye story was incredible. I mean, if you know anything about his story, there's some things about his life that will blow your mind. Not even his music, just him as a man, there's some things that would make you go, What?! So whoever tells this story, you know it's going to be great.

Do you think you could pull it off?

Could I pull it off? I'm sure that I could give a good crack at it. But I think the Mike Tyson story is the most interesting thing to me that you don't know. The stuff that I found out about him would blow your mind. Mike Tyson gives you phrases that, if you listen to it, will blow your mind. They said, How do you feel? and he said (imitating Tyson's voice), I'm more happy now that I don't have any money... I don't have to worry about anything. I'm just here. I don't know if you saw the interview, but he was teaching a kid how to box. He stopped and said, I'm so glad I don't have any more money. Nobody has to do me wrong. Nobody has to [fuck] me over. To me, that's where you go. Do the story about THAT! About how he feels now, after he looks back on what all happened. A reporter once asked him, Why are things so crazy for you, Mike? And [Tyson] says: You give a kid who's 19 years old $60 million and see how crazy it'd be for him!

Are you trying to do a film based on that?

No, but sometimes you just kind of put things out there in the air and hopefully they catch on. That's what I did with Miami Vice just threw it out there.

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