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Interview: Jamie Foxx for "Jarhead"

By Paul Fischer Wednesday November 2nd 2005 04:49PM
Jamie Foxx  for "Jarhead"

Jamie Foxx may be an Oscar winner but the actor still knows how to play the crowd. As he meets the media promoting his less than funny performance as a tough marine commander in the raw Jarhead, Foxx switches gears from the serious to the comic. Garth Franklin was there.

Question: So, you're ready to give up acting for singing now? Foxx: No, man. I'm not giving up anything. I want 'em to get tired of me. [sounds like: If I'm paid, you got me - get out.]

Question: What lead your decision to take on a supporting role in Jarhead? Foxx: You know what? I think, in this situation, you look at Sam Mendes -- to get a relationship with Sam Mendes -- I think it was worth all of that because [he's] an Oscar-winning director and we had such a great time doing the film and in the future -- you know we had a good time - so let's do some other things. And, like I said at the time, you really don't know what -- nobody really knew what Ray would do. Ray, at one point for a while, didn't have a home. You know, so it was like 'we gotta get crackin', we gotta get movin'. So, you know, we had to get our hustle on -- and this was a great hustle -- because it's a good book. It's meat on the bone, it's not contrived, it's doesn't look like I went to go try to get all the money and stuff right after the Oscars I did Booty Called or something like that. (laughter) So, you know, I mean, you stay in that vein of where -- because I don't want it to look like 'um, okay, I'm Johnny Carson now -- 'cause I've always enjoyed being the Ed McMahon. Ed McMahon has always been the coolest spot and what I mean by that is like, Will Smith is Johnny Carson. Tom Cruise is Johnny Carson and I'm like "ho-ho-ho. Yeah, ho ho." and it's been great, you know? So winning the Oscar's kind of like Ed McMahon when he got Star Search -- it's like 'oh, you got your own thing!' (laughter) So, you know, it's all good.

Question: What was the vibe on the set once you got back after winning the Oscar? Foxx: It was great, man. It was great getting back to the set because those young guys were like 'yo man, how was it?' And I was like 'you know, well, I really felt that --' and they were like 'no, no, who was there?' (laughter) And I was like, 'aw man, it was Clint Eastwood and, you know, it was Meg Ryan, it was CRAZY!' So, it was fun with those guys and I think it's fun with me, uh, having something like that 'cause when you look at other Oscar-winners like Halle or Denzel, you know, that's like 'wow', you know that's, kind of, you know -- hey, they won. But with me, you know, like I was down in Miami right after at Wet Willie's, you know, crackin' jokes...I'm able to talk about things to those guys that maybe some of the other Oscar-winners couldn't talk about it. So, I was giving them stories -- especially about the after-parties.

Question: I wanted to ask you something very serious. Your career is sort of split. I mean, yeah, you have the Booty Call era Foxx: I still don't understand why we got overlooked at the Oscars.

Question: Talk about what the range is that you've experienced? Foxx: Like I said, it's been a great ride. If you look at In Living Color -- I know that some of the In Living Colors are running on BET now -- and when you look at it, you see the training ground. I mean, because, those guys were doing things -- I laugh even harder now -- and they were doing things that weren't just jokes in your face, they were doing real characters. We were trying to do -- get characters' different feelings, make them more than one-dimensional, so, it was a great training ground being under Keenan and Damon and Jim Carey and all of those cats. So, with this, you're happy that you have that background and those tools to be able to go into some of the characters that we've gone into. Because we've played sergeants in some of our sketches. Now all that you do is knock off of the funny and actually play the sergeant. You DO Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, knock off the funny and actually DO the character, so, to see it play out like it's played out, it really makes you feel good on the inside of whatever's coming next, you're going to be able to get into it and try to make it happen for you.

Question: How have perceptions changed in the industry since you've won the Oscar? Are you lot more selective about the kinds of roles? Foxx: As far as perception has changed, I don't know if that's necessarily the perception has changed but there it has been a little bit of 'Oh, he thinks he's you so, what you have to do everyday 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. And the way I've done that is just kept telling jokes about it. Just as if you're feeling like you're doing thing, that you've done won the Oscar and you're feeling like you're at the top of your game, you're at the top of the mountain and you come off the elevator and there's a brother going 'Hey Jamie, man, congratulations on that Grammy, dogg. I mean you did your thing, dogg. Hey man, what song was that that they acknowledged you for? I still don't know." (laughter) So it lets you know that like 'Wait a minute, everybody ain't feelin' it. Everybody didn't get a chance to catch it like--" So, you take it and bring it back down and you use the Oscar for those things that you really wanted when you used to go up in the office and say 'I need those scripts back there.' 'No, we ain't giving those scripts out. Can't have those scripts.' I'd say 'Why because I think we could do a great job.' Now they're offering roles and what's great is, we create on the dribble. We like, we're like - we're basketball players. We create off the dribble. And so, we needed it. I mean we needed it so, like, we could set things up for our careers in the future--

Question: Are you being selective? Foxx: Yeah, that's what I mean. Like when I say create off the dribble it's like when, you know, they always talk about let's say the Oscar Curse. And usually, that's a person that, if you know basketball, he's got to come off the screen and shoot it. Meaning that somebody's got to set it up for him. With us, we create it off the dribble. We do stand-up, so we can go to our left. We do music, so we can go to our right. We can write the movies, so we can go around our backs. You know, we can shoot the three. So, by having that, we use it as our tool and try not to bastard it because sometimes I've, you know, used it for the wrong things.

Question: You're about to shoot Dreamgirls -- Foxx: -- Yeah -- Question: It's got a great cast -- Foxx: How about that? -- Question: But with that still having to be cast, there's some rumours of Fantasia, can you talk about that? Foxx: I think that Fantasia is outta here. If Fantasia does a movie, it's in the stratosphere. Nuts, you know? At first I wasn't going to do it -- they didn't know what was going on; I was like 'I want to do it, you know -- and 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, man I need to be in that!' Because that's going to be outstanding.

Question: How about Miami Vice? Foxx: Miami Vice is going great, man. Colin Farrell's a great individual - a lady killer (laughs) You know what I'm saying? It's just great to see him get into that Crockett (role) and, again, I'm Ed McMahon oh, ho-ho-ho -- [ imitates McMahon's laughing from the sidelines] so it's right up your alley: guns, you know, the city - and the different look that Michael Mann's going to put on it. It's going to be hot!

Question: Would you do more biopics, maybe Marvin Gaye or Rick James?

Foxx: I always though that the Marvin Gaye story was incredible. I mean the Marvin Gaye, if you know anything about the Marvin Gaye story, there's some things about Marvin Gaye that you don't know in this building that will blow your mind, as far as, not even his music. Just him as the man there's some things that would make you go what? So, whoever tells this story, you know it's going to be great.

Question: Could you pull it off? Foxx: Could I pull it off? I'm probably sure that I could give a good crack at it. I think the Mike Tyson story is the most interesting thing. I think that's the most interesting story that you don't know. Nobody knows the stuff that I know. The stuff that I found out? It would blow your mind. Mike Tyson gives you phrases that if you listen to it, it'll blow your mind. He said -- they said 'Mike how do you feel?' and he said (imitating Tyson's voice) 'I'm happy. I'm more happy now, I don't have any money.' and they said 'why Michael?' -- [as Tyson] 'I don't have to worry about anything. I'm just here.' And it was an Interview, I don't know if you saw it, and he was with a kid. And he was teaching the kid how to box; he stopped and said 'I'm so happy. I'm so glad I don't have any more money. So I don't have to worry about it anymore. Nobody has to do me wrong. Nobody has to, you know, "F" me over. I'm just glad.' And I said 'That's where you go. Do the story about THAT.' About how he feels now - after he looks back on what all happened. And he made another phrase, statement. [a reporter asks] 'Mike, I mean, things are just crazy for you -- why is it so crazy Mike?' And [Tyson] says: 'You give a kid who's 19 years old $60 million and see how crazy it'd be for him."

Question: Are you trying to do that? Foxx: No, sometimes you just kind of put things out there in the air and hopeful they catch. That's what I did with Miami Vice, just throw it out there.

Question: What is the message of Jarhead? Foxx: I don't think there's necessarily a message but I think it was great to see the different views of how it all works. When you look at these guys and the job that they have to do, Staff Sergeant Siek, he was trying to explain to them simplicity. He was making it simpler. This is what you do. If you don't do this you'll get killed. A lot of times since we're in Hollywood and we drink cappuccino and we go to brunch, we think a lot. And a lot of these guys are from places where they don't think a whole lot. It's like my friends when they come from Texas, they go, 'Man, why y'all always talking? Man, why don't you all be quiet?' And then when you do go to Texas, what do you see in Texas? You see somebody on the porch. Not saying anything and so that was what was in this movie. Like Jake and I when we first started doing it, it's like we think wow, don't they feel bad? But being in the military, it is a simple life. It just happens that war breaks out so it complicates it a little bit but it's a simple way of thinking is what Staff Sergeant Siek is trying to get across.

Question: Have you ever have a moment you thought you'd quit? Foxx: 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 LA, you've got to have your shine on. If you ain't shining, and you did quick. The minute they found out the show was over, I remember seeing this girl, 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.' And she says hi. I say hey. She said, 'Do you know where Chris Tucker is?' 'Uh, uh, uh.' and I was at the Comedy Store. It's like, 'Yeah, I'm trying to find- - I think he's- - I don't know, he's somewhere around there.' And she looked back and said, 'You look so familiar.' And I was like oh, man, my shine is gone. So I'll never forget moving. I had to move to Vegas because it was bad here. ??? was going, 'Whatcha' gonna do now man? That stuff is over.'

And another Chris Tucker story, at one point I had gotten so into myself because I thought everybody was watching In Living Color. Everybody watched In Living Color. I remember going up on stage one day 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.' So I dropped the mic, 'Thank you, I'm Jamie Foxx.' I walk off stage and as I'm off stage, outside the club talking to somebody, I hear the doors open [and audience roars]. 'Who is that? What is that? What are they laughing about? I just left the stage.' And I walked in and it was a young, thin black guy with bulging eyes by the name of Chris Tucker. This was years ago and he was killing them. And I sat down and I said, 'That's what I need to do. I need to go back and find what it is that I do' because I had lost it.

So I moved to Vegas and then we put our heads together and Warner Brothers at the time was looking for some shows. I like the people that like me. It wasn't ABC, it wasn't CBS, it was Warner Brothers. We went there and we did The Jamie Foxx Show and I got a brand new start. I said, 'I don't want to ever slip like that again.' Then I'll tell you, years went by and I'm in the Laugh Factory and they bring out, 'Coming to the stage...' and it was Chris Tucker. And he had a suit on and a red tie and he was telling rich jokes. 'I wonder if you girls really love me for me or for my money.' And it was like wow. I went to him and said, 'I see what's happening. You've gotta go back and get it.' And I challenged him, I challenged Cedric the Entertainer, I challenged Bernie Mac, I said, 'Don't lose that because once you lose that, it's hard to try to get it back.'

Question: How is your pickup with ladies since the Oscars? Foxx: It's changed drastically. I bought a Lamborghini too. It's crazy. I think what it is, is that it's a different type of women when you win an Oscar. All the young in the club, I ain't messing with you right now. I got this over here, the 35 and over with their own companies. They break down everything. 'You know, that night I was so touched.' 'Girl, I'm gonna touch you again.' That's the thing that I can say that maybe Halle and Denzel can't say because I'll never forget the joke I told Will. It was like 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.' Oh, baby. So I'll tell you, if you ain't got one, get you one.

Question: Did you come away with any judgment about marine life? Foxx: No, that's what I'm talking about. See, you're away from it. I think it's your demographic. It really comes down to. I mean, when I talk to my friend who's a black guy, he says, 'Yo man, I think he got 'em dawg.' I say, 'What?' 'That Saddam, man, he got the weapons of mass destruction.' They believe it. I said, 'No, I don't know. I don't think so. I don't know.' In LA, we ponder. In New York, whatever, you ponder, you think, you wonder. But the demographics where a lot of these guys are from, it's not barbaric to them because we look at life as we want to be the thinking people and figure out things. But for them, when you go back to our home town and you have that soldier's uniform on, you're heralded. You went and you did it. You went and did something for your country and I know it sounds weird but people still say, 'God bless America' in parts of this world. Although it's weird for us to say America because like I said, we're thinking of what is America portraying? They don't think like that. So it's like for them, that is their superbowl. That is their Oscar. That is their Stanley Cup. And you come back and you say, 'Yo, man, I went out there and I protected y'all.' That's where you have to get. You have to get in there and sit with them and see how it really is.

Question: Any reference in portraying your character, and what's next? Foxx: Miami Vice is right now. Dreamgirls later on. And then I will do Kingdom. And we got the album out there that Kanye West, I call it Smithereens now. It's not just a smash. 'Take my money' is killing right now. I think that's some kind of history too. I don't know too many Oscar winners that had number one songs. We're doing that and then I got my own clothing line coming out, I got my own shoe, I got hats. I'm kidding. No, but actually December 6, my album comes out and that's one of those things. It's like the guest list alone, it's on J Records, the guest list we got Snoop, we got Timbaland, we got Ludicris, we got Mary J Blige and I fooled 'em a little bit too because I got some young stuff at the beginning and young stuff at the end but in the middle there's our stuff. Some make love, how you doing, get to know you, treat your woman like this, treat your man like that so infidelity here, infidelity on both sides but one of the interludes is talking about the success of this about going through infidelity where I say, 'All the money in the world but she still cheated on me,' so we're dealing with things like that so in that middle get in that so you all don't go, 'Oh, this is younger ass stuff.' Four or five in between.

Question: What's Kingdom? Foxx: Kingdom is a movie. I don't know if I can let you know that right now but check it out.

Question: What are you reading? Foxx: A lot of scripts. I'm reading this book called Love, or something like that. It's kind of like a small book.

Question: How close are you playing to the original Tubbs? Foxx: Well, I don't have the curls.

Question: What other music do you listen to? What influences you? Foxx: Right now since I've been doing the album, hip hop is really intriguing because the way these young guys come up with songs or hits, it blows my mind because they don't follow patterns. Usually music has verses, bridge, they don't do that. They just go.

Question: Where do you keep your Oscar? Foxx: My manager has it.

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