Jamie Foxx Interview – THE SOLOIST

     April 23, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Last weekend I attended the international press day for “The Soloist” as a reporter for our partner website Omelete. If you haven’t heard of the film yet, it’s directed by Joe Wright’s (“Pride and Prejudice”, “Atonement”) and it stars Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., and Catherine Keener. Also, it’s based on a true story. Here’s the synopsis:

Journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) discovers Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a former classical music prodigy, playing his violin on the streets of L.A. As Lopez endeavors to help the homeless man find his way back, a unique friendship is formed, one that transforms both their lives.

Anyway, at the press junket Jamie couldn’t have been nicer and more open. Not only did he go into great detail about how this role affected him, he also talked about everything anyone asked him. Whether it be about his recent spat with Miley Cyrus, or about his music, or what else he has coming up – Jamie answered every question and was more than happy to talk.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. Finally, if you’d like to watch some clips from “The Soloist” click here.

“The Soloist” opens tomorrow at theaters everywhere.

When are going to do your P Diddy stuff, you know the fashion line? You could do that tomorrow!

JAMIE FOXX: You know what, Diddy is made for that ‘cos he’s that kind of guy, you know what I’m sayin’? And he’s able to express himself like that, he’s always been like that, he’s always been in that mode. But I don’t think it works for me, man, I don’t think it works.

Your appearance is significantly different in this movie to state the obvious. We heard some stuff about that you chipped your tooth and so on. How did you do that?

FOXX: Yeah, I went to this doctor and I said, “Listen, I have these big fake white teeth and if I do this movie and I’m dressed as a homeless and they see these big white teeth, especially on the big screen it’s like a piano.” So I said, “How can I achieve looking different?” And he said, “Well, I could chisel those down and make it a little crooked,” and so, my manager was there (laughs), and he went, “Bzzzzzz!” (imitates grinder). But you know, it really worked because now it gave a little more authenticity to being homeless, you know, and shaving my eyebrows, and just giving me a different look so we could sort of get away from being Jamie Foxx a bit.

Did it hurt?

FOXX: Oh no, it didn’t hurt. That what I was worried about but it didn’t hurt.

Did you have a corrected afterwards?

FOXX: Yeah, then I had to wear Invisalines and that was kinda tough. I don’t know if you ever wore those but you get a little bit of a headache and, you know. So I had to wear the Invisalines but it was cool.

When did you start preparations for this movie?

FOXX: Well, I tell you what, I had a bad mishap years ago when I was 18. Someone played a practical joke on me and slipped something to me and I went off. I ended up going to hospital and, um, I’m in college. So I come back to my dorm room and I’m just…

What happened?

FOXX: Yeah, they slipped something into my drink.

What kind of drug?

FOXX: Um, like PCP. And it’s a horrid drug and I think that all of my fears are coming true and I’m going crazy. Um, and I get back to my room and there is this white guy by the name of Marc Provard who I have always thanked because he saved my life, because he would talk to me every night. He’d say, “You’re okay, the demons aren’t real,” or whatever it is. So basically this movie is parallel to what I went through 20 years ago so when I take on a part (like that) I start to have anxiety. Joe Wright actually had to come to my house and say, “If you don’t want to do the movie I understand.” And I said, “But I’m just feeling that I really am this character!” And he said, “Well, that can be a good thing or a bad.” And so when we embarked upon doing the movie he would be there to say, “This is real, this isn’t real,” you know, sort of pull me out, things like this. So it was tough because we all have our minds and nobody want to, you know, our minds, that’s our assets so to lose that, we would be crazy so…

So that happened when you were 18 but it obviously stayed with you until…

FOXX: Yeah, because what it is, um, I had to read all about PCP, and PCP leaves a fingerprint, you can’t get it out of your system. So when I did that at 18 I had eleven months of harsh flashbacks, when I was 26 I had a flashback (snaps fingers), when I was 32 I had a flashback so it’s not necessarily the drug but, um, it’s called post traumatic stress, you feel like you, you know, are having that same…

So what did it make you feel?

FOXX: It makes you feel like your worst nightmares, like you’re afraid of the dark, um, all the things you’ve seen on television, you know…


FOXX: Yeah, paranoid. And paranoia is craziness, you know.

I just read that you are in therapy. Is that correct? Because while the movie was shooting you discovered therapy.

FOXX: Yeah, yeah…

So what do you do when you’re in therapy, do you talk with…?

FOXX: Yeah, which is interesting, which I actually used. I used me going to therapy for this other movie that I just did. ‘Cos when you go to therapy they are talking to you like (puts on whispering voice), “Yes, yes.” And they say they’re listening. And then they go, um, they’re looking at their watch and I say, “I thought you were really into me.” (And the doctor says), “Oh no, no, I have another person, I have to…” So I actually used that for another movie. But yeah, therapy is, you know, it was good, especially from the guy, I don’t want to say his name, but the guy I was talking to was just very (claps hands): Come on, what’s going on? You know, he wasn’t like this whole thing you’ve seen on television and all, so it was good.

So what was the first thing you did after shooting Nathaniel? I mean, to go back into the materialistic world so to speak.

FOXX: It was tough! It was just tough, you know. I didn’t want to go back to my house for a long time. Luckily I started another movie and went to Philly, and when I was in Philly I chilled. Because, you know, then I had those sort of weird feelings when I was in my house. So luckily I went for four month somewhere else and then got all of that out and then it was cool.

Did you learn something for yourself? And also when you went to therapy did you learn something about yourself you weren’t sure about?

FOXX: Well, you learn that everything is going to be okay on that other side. Like when you are going through things, you are going through a dilemma, you’re just feeling like everything is washed out, the therapist was cool, like. Yeah, I’ve seen this, yours is mild, I’ve seen this a thousand times. So you learn you are not the only person suffering from certain things, you know, would it be paranoia or whatever it is, you know.

The Jamie Foxx we think we know which is probably different from the guy you really are…

FOXX: You know, I really stay out there though. I try to be as honest and open as I am with everything that I do because it’s just, um, It helps me, you know, like whether it’s stand up or singing or act. I just try to stay true. So there is not a lot about me that you don’t know other than that I play table tennis (laughter). I’m great, I’m great at table tennis! You will look at me and go, “How does that dude know how to play that well?”

Q: Do you have to pay a price for that openness sometimes?

FOXX: Of course you pay a price! But I think what you do is don’t go inside, go outside and just say, “This is what I am, ‘cos I’m different.” Talking about paying the price: When Tom Cruise opened up he had to pay the price. Because Tom Cruise had always been this mysterious (lowers voice): “Wow, I wonder what he is doing?” And when he opened up people were just (makes sound): “Varooom!” and it was all over. I’m different, I start out open, I just stay open. If I would go in, people would start wondering what going on.

But don’t you now, so to speak, have to pay a price for the Cyrus comment? Billy Ray Cyrus just mentioned today that he does not forgive you for having said that… He actually said, “What about if somebody said something like that about Jamie Foxx’s daughter, somebody would say ‘Your daughter should start recording a sex tape what would you…'”

FOXX: I know. But you have to understand that this is not serious. I’m a comedian, so anything I say about anybody does strictly come from comedy. It’s not, you know… It would be different if I was a government official and you never heard Jamie Foxx doing any jokes. But on our radio series – and I don’t want to keep talking about it, you know, we apologized and it’s a dead issue – but when you live out there, there are certain things that’s gonna happen and you have to address them and then you have to keep moving.

But how would you react if somebody said that about your daughter?

FOXX: I know, but my daughter understands that we are in the limelight also, you know what I’m sayin’. She understands.

Have you heard any jokes about yourself?

FOXX: I have. If you listen to my radio show, they talk about my teeth, they talk about my hair, they talk about my head, they talk about everything and that’s just, um, that’s our comedy show. So…

Does it affect you?

FOXX: No, it don’t because you know…



How did you get along with Robert Downey Jr.?

FOXX: Oh man, he is so much better than I am, he is! (laughter) And I say this because he’s so effortless and he’s just: Oh, Oh! It’s so, um, there is no – how would you say – there was no, like, non-authentic moments. Everything was just real, every single moment of his professional and his personal, um… And so I told him, I said, “You are the biggest star in this film, you know.” And then he was like a young kid waiting for Christmas because “Iron Man” wasabout to come out. And I was just sittin’ there watching the trailer (raises voice and hums): “Boom, boom, boom—” And I said, “Dude, that’s just going to be ridiculous for you right now.” But even with that he got his work done and we had some great conversations. Because I watched him, Iwatchedhim when he’d been down, you know, I rooted for him, I saw him getting his act together, it was just amazing.

When was the last time you heard Classical music? Have you ever been to a concert?

FOXX: Yeah, you know, went to Disney Hall. Oh, my Goodness! It’s incredible! I recorded it on my phone and then I could hear it.

(laughter) No recording during concerts!

FOXX: I’m working on a film so please (laughter)

Did you see Beethoven?

FOXX: I don’t remember what we saw, no. I just remember watching it and going like: Wow! I don’t remember exactly what it was but Nathaniel was there, Robert Downey was there, it was just amazing.

What about your personal life? Was there one you used to turn to for advice?

FOXX: I would say my grandmother would be like my Personal God.


FOXX: She just viewed the world so differently, you know what I’m sayin’? She was like: Get everything you can, learn everything you can, don’t be paranoid – we grew up in Texas, you know – don’t be scared of white people, that was her first thing. Get yourself to the other side of Texas, get yourself a job, talk with that man like you have some sense, you know, everything was just so… She was just the coolest.

I’m curious what you think about Twitter and are you on it?

FOXX: No, I’m not on Twitter, no.

Are you planning on getting on it?

FOXX: Naaaaa…. People tell me about it and I had a situation where I took some people out to dinner, a little private thing, and then the next thing you know I get a call, “Yeah, I hear you are out at so and so, you know from that girl (laughter)”. And I say, “What are you talking about?” And I guess that one of the DJ’s from one of the radio stations thanked Jamie Foxx for taking me out to dinner, I’m still stuffed. (laughter) And then the other DJ from the other station who was playing my record blame me like, “Ugh, you take them out to dinner but we are trying to play you?” And I go, “I don’t even know what you are talking about how would you know this?” “Well I saw it on it on Twitter, so…” (laughter)

But it’s funny.

FOXX: Um, I don’t know.

Jamie, did you stay in character the whole time?

FOXX: I did, I couldn’t shake it. Even my manager told me that I do stay in characters but I didn’t recognize it. With this one I did, I did recognize it. And when I finally left it was sort of days and days where I was like, “Oh, I haven’t thought like Nate in a while.” So after a couple of months it was gone.

What do you miss about him?

FOXX: What do I miss? Um, I don’t know. I don’t know if I miss him.

Do you view music differently now?

FOXX: I view music differently now but I don’t know if I miss that funny feeling of like, you might not be able to get it back together. I don’t miss that.

Where your friends worried about you?

FOXX: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. One of my friends, Chris Burren, came to stay with me and was like (takes deep breath), “You gonna be okay?” Because we were going though some dark moments, you know. I was like, “Chris, how come I can’t shake this character?” We ran into Steven Spielberg at that Easter thing last year, not this year, and he said, “How are you doing, are you okay?” And I was like, “Why?” And he said that character you are playing, you know, that can be a little touch and go.

Do you feel that you have overcome your fears now?

FOXX: No, butI’m just glad I’m past it, I don’t know if I have overcome that fear yet though.

Is it true that you are working on a Obama movie?

FOXX: No, no, no! But (starts imitating Obama) if there is any indication that (laughter) America is not the most incredible country in the world and, um, look, it’s gonna be tough and what we have to do, all of us together, and (laughter) – So I would do his impersonation, like, for my stand-up, for the jokes that I do. The Barack jokes I have – Oh my Goodness! – wait until you hear those!

When will you be the new Eddie Murphy? I mean, people have been waiting for you to go down that road for years now. When are you going to explore that side on screen?

FOXX: You know what, that’s one of the reasons that I want to keep people aware that I’m a comedian – without rehearsing what have already talked about. You know, I want to be able to have that door open, that’s why I do my radio show because if you go on to my radio show it’s all of these voices that I do, all of these characters that I do, every Friday. And so now sort of like built this, millions of people are like listening to the show like, “Yo, now we gonna have some!” And now we are looking for that smart comedy that when we do it people go like, “Wow!” ‘Cos we want to pay just as much attention to the comedy as we do to the drama.

I’m curious about Law Abiding Citizen. It’s written by two great screen writers, Frank Darabont and David Ayer. Is that what drew you to the project?

FOXX: Oh, yeah, yeah – and the fact that Gerald Butler and F. Gary Gray are attached to the film, you know. It’s a great film. As I said I used that therapy thing because Gerald’s character, what happens is that his wife and his daughter are murdered in front of him. So when he comes to me, I’m a DA, and I’m talking to him like I’m very, um, we gonna do a deal, you know, and as he’s pouring out his heart I go, “You know, I really gotta go.” And so he’s distraught by that and then of course the rest of the movie I don’t want to, you know, let the cat out of the back. But I can tell you, it’s intense.

Have you shot anything since you wrapped on that?

FOXX: Uh-uh. Just promoting the music. We have the number one song in the country called “Blame it” which just broke the record for urban Hip Hop radio for being number one for nine weeks. It just beat 50 Cent in the clubs so… (laughter)

Are you gonna tour?

FOXX: Oh, yeah, yeah!

What is the music project you are currently working on?

FOXX: Well, the album Intuition is out and just went platinum officially. So I think to have the music doing what it’s doing’ right now, man, it’s the ultimate. Nobody is really selling records out there but we are at a million records and we dropped it at Christmas, so we are just trying to get that thing to like two million, you know.

Don’t take it wrong Jamie, but…

FOXX: (laughter, interrupts) Then don’t say it wrong!

People see you as an actor, so they don’t want to see you on stage singing, it feels weird for them? Or isit like it was for Will Smith?

FOXX: Na, it’s different. I tell you why it’s different: If you drop a record, right, and you are Jamie Foxx the radio station automatically is like, “We don’t want to play a Jamie Foxx record ‘cos he’s an actor.” Then they hear the record, then they go, “Wow, have you heard this record?” And they play it. And the next thing you know, the record is a smash. So any time you’re successful and it’s organic, it’s not like some sort of gimmick or you’re riding on the cocktails of who you are, um… Like we took our record and I went to every club, every strip club (laughter) and the reason why you go to strip clubs is a very interesting thing. I went to the Bronx in New York, Sin City and I said, “I got this record I want to play.” And I popped a record in. And it was a cross section of”Yo Foxx, you hangin’ with us now? I thought you was all silly Oscar dude now? You know what I’m sayin’ like you was from a foreign country now. Why ya hangin’ with us?” And I said, “‘Cos I got a record I want to play and I’m humble with my music.” So I put the record in and I saw everybody like, “Oh man, what is this?” And I don’t tell them who it is, I just tell the DJ, “Play the record, don’t say nothin’, don’t say I’m even in here.” They play the record, people are going crazy and they say, “Play it back!” So we play it like ten times. And now, if you are authentic in whatever you do then people accept it, you know but if there’s gimmicks and strings… Trustme, they don’t want to play your record. But if it’s doing well for them, then it all makes sense. And then you can go to the radio stations and now people can enjoy everything that you do: They can enjoy that your movie is coming out, they can enjoy your records, they can enjoy your jokes and everythin’ like that, you know.

Jamie, it begs the question: You went to a strip club. I can imagine you in a strip would cause a bit of a commotion…

FOXX: Yeah, but it wasn’t the kind of strip club that you’re thinking. No, but I’m sayin’ the strip club that most people think off, they think it’s all (makes kinky noises) but this was the ghetto strip club where the girls didn’t look, you know, they didn’t look like Halle Berry. They look like barely hale, you know what I’m saying? (laughter) You know, I call it “Guts and Butts”, you know what I’m saying? (laughter) but you know what it was though? It’s that person that’s going to buy your record. It’s that person that’s gonna go to your movie, it’s that person that’s gonna accept that new type of entertainment, that you are a person that can do the jokes, do the singin’, a person that can do the acting. But you still have to go and grow your grass roots, you know.

But are they cool with you in a place like that?

FOXX: Yeah, and see, that’s the one thing I don’t want to lose. It’s like a weird thing happened with the Oscar, like people were always like, “Now he’s got an Oscar, now he has to have escorts.” And I said I don’t want to do none of that because if I do that I’m cutting myself off from how I got there. So I hear people saying, “Hey Foxx, when you gonna do some comedy, man?” You know, when you gonna stop doing all this, you know? So you try to service all those different things. But I never want anything to keep me in a box, I want to be able to be…

But at the same time you have to change your way of life, like if somebody comes after you, like with the stalking? You have to be more careful.

FOXX: Yeah, you have to be more careful. Now the stalker thing was a little different ‘cos you all watch E! Hollywood stories (laughter) So I’m watching E! Hollywood and I’m watching the stalker edition I go, “Man, I wish somebody would!” (laughter) And then the next thing you know you open the door and there is that person. And he’s like, “Yo J. you don’t want to let me in?” And I’m like, “Um, well, why would I do that?” (And he said), “I work with Beyonce, you don’t want to let me in?” And then I looked down, looked at his hands and he has his hands in his pockets. So now I’m thinking, “Okay, this is the moment. This is the moment where either they can do that Hollywood story and it’s all in colour or they could do that Hollywood story and it’s all in black and white about that fatal moment,” (laughter) but whatever. So I don’t want to be in black and white, so I get the dude out of the door, he runs out, you know what I’m sayin’ and we think he’s gone and he comes back the next day dressed as the delivery man. “I have a delivery forJamie Foxx.” And then it was like, “OKAY, now it’s serious.” And then we took care of it. But (even though) we take those changes I gotta stay out there, I think I gotta be who I am.

I saw the video and it’s like a who’s who in Hollywood. So how hard is it to get celebrity friends to be in videos?

FOXX: Well, we got Ron Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Quincy Jones. And the way I got Ron Howard was that we were at the inauguration. And during the inauguration everybody was just so happy and I’m just sittin’ there looking at Ron saying “Ron, would you do a music video?” And he says, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” And then everybody was like put him in that panda bear suit, and I think that made the song even more popular.

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