Ray: An Interview with Regina King
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By Tonisha Johnson
Regina is at it again playing "on the road love", Margie Hendricks in the Best Film of the Year, Ray. Starring Jaime Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Bokeem Woodbine, newcomers Sharon Warren and C.J. Sanders.
Hi Regina, tell me a little bit about you and your choice to get into this business?
Born and raised in L.A. I think that this industry chose me. I kind of feel that I've always been performing all my life. I know that I was supposed to make an impact someway in this world. And I just think that it's going to be thru this industry. I think that it will be much bigger than just an actress. I never had a plan B. It always just chose me. That's the best way I could put it. It chose me. How did you come up with the true essence of Margie?
Well, unfortunately there weren't a lot of pictures or video of Margie, so I couldn't really try to get someone else's body movements or something like that. So, I kind of had to rely on the information that Ray was giving Taylor. And a lot of the band members had given Taylor. Cause that was the only people that were willing to talk about Margie' Charles Wayne her son I don't know if they were able to contact him. And if they did contact him, he wasn't apart of the whole process of this movie. So, I kind of justwhen you hear her voice, it's so strong and powerful. And Ray said there was no other Margie Hendricks, so I just kind of went on that and a prayer and just hoped that the power was there and still the submission she has for Ray and justthat's probably, in my mind the one man that she would bow down to.
Was the 'Hit the Road Jack' song, really an ending to Margie and Ray's relationship?
I think a lot of that was artistic license. I think the difference is between real life and the movies. In Taylor's case, he really used the music to tell Ray's story. For example; the song 'What'd I Say', the way it played out in the movie is not really how that song came to be but it just made it more dynamic. Because they have that version of the song that he actually played it in; I want to say, the Montreal Jazz Festival but I could be wrong. They did that version of the song while he was on tour. And they used that in the movie.
What type of musical interests did you have when you where growing up?
Oh man! I listened to everybody. My father is a huge Jazz fan. And a huge Ray Charles fan. So I was familiar with his music at a very young age. There is not a particular type of music that I like. I think that's the reason why I, especially shooting this movie, that I had, and still have such a great appreciation for Ray because of all the types of music that he brought together. But you know, I grew up during the MTV days. A lot of the Mod style, you know, Pat Benatar and the list goes on and on and on. I like all types of music.
You've gone from around the way girl to wife, to playing the vixen; how was that transition?
It's so much fun. When I auditioned for the role, they thought that I was reading for Della. And I was like no! Do I have to read for Della? And they were like no, who do you want to read for? And I was like Margie! And he was like, whatever you want, I mean go ahead. But for me to just have the opportunityI mean, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't change anything; not my resume or anything. But to NOT have the opportunity to be the wife, I don't know, I think that it's kind of a compliment in a kind of way, that people think that you're really good at the role and people want you to constantly play that role. And I was like getting to the point that a movie would come up and I they wanted me to play Sam Jackson' wife. And I was like look I'm trying to have a long career here. I'm not trying to end it before its time. So, this is such an awesome opportunity and it was like everyday I couldn't just wait to go to work and do certain scenes because I would get to be the bad girl.
What were you favorite scenes in the film?
There's so many great moments in the film. I guess what stands out for me is when young Ray, for the first time, begins to accept his other senses. When he picks up the cricket; I just love that scene. That probably stands out the most.
Margie was the other woman. Did you see her as being delusional about her relationship with Ray? Her wanting to replace Della?
For me, I don't know if anyone has ever heard me say before that I would never play a submissive role. To me, that was kind of what was attractive to Margie. As actors we always contradict ourselves. We always say where never going to do something and we do it. I just thought that for her, she knew who Ray was and in a way the Raelettes were kind of like; they sang on so many Atlantic Records. They were kind of "in-house" stars in a way. Although Ray Charles was great to her, when she came in it was like, you know, were the Raylettes, were The Cookies, your just Ray Charles. We've been doing this. I think she was very strong and once they got together, they had this passion. And she just melted whenever she was around him. I did think that her drinking was a result of her not being able to be the one. I did read that she had relationship with another one of the members in the band. And I feel that part of that was to get at Ray. Anything that she did was to get at this man's attention.
In the last scene between Margie and Ray, where Margie says goodbye for the final time and Ray says don't leave, but really thinks he is talking to Della; where did you pull the pain from to conclude the scene?
Aww man. Where did I get the pain from? Just the idea of it, I mean, she was pregnant with this man's child. To know in your heart; She knew he wasn't going to be accepting of it. The hope, the possibility that he would want to make more of them than just being an "on the road" couple. And it's sad to me reading it. I don't know, I can't really say that I called on anybody I know who was in a similar situation. It was just heart wrenching to know that a woman would be in this position. So, the idea of that is painful to me.
Wearing prosthetics to walking around on the set; what was the demeanor like on the set, working with Jaime?
Jaime's so awesome. No one had to work harder then him. There would be times where we would be shooting scenes and we'd have like a lot of extras and this would be during the performance scenes. So Taylor would be like, we don't really have that much money, we don't really have that much time, so we've got to get it done. So he's, for lack of a better word, sometimes short. And by no means did I expect for him to be any other way. I think he's brilliant. Jaime would be, literally, entertaining the extras. To have the job that he had and want the extras to be relaxed and want them to stay and not be frustrated; that's just huge for a person to be thinking about that and playing Ray Charles with prosthetics on your eyes. That guy is pretty awesome.
Did you get a chance to meet Ray Charles?
No, unfortunately I didn't get a chance to. I had this dream that I was gonna meet him on the red carpet and ask "Mr. Charles, did you enjoy the film?" But I didn't get a chance to do that, but I know that he gave his blessing on this film. The seal of approval is there.
What can we expect next from you Regina?
I am playing the voice of Riley in the Boondocks. I'm really excited about that. It's going to be on Cartoon Network in the adult film block. We were trying to get Fox to pick it up, but I think Cartoon Network is gonna give them a little bit more freedom to push the envelope. And I've always wanted to do a period piece. And God blessed me with a period piece. Not just a period piece, but, the story of Ray Charles. I mean, you couldn't ask for anything better.
Overall, what did you think of the final cut?
Incredible. The first time I saw it, it was in Atlanta. And I think that the reason why I wanted to go because it was regular people and I wanted to see the reaction of people. I think that I was too busy looking at people and seeing what they were doing. And how they were reacting. And they loved it. And then when we saw it in Toronto; it was so emotional, like Kerry (Kerry Washington) and I just broke down crying at the end of the screening. When we were shooting it, we knew that we were doing something special. I am just blessed to be a part of this experience. I really feel like it an experience. I really do. I think you learn about Ray and it shows the rawness of Ray. It doesn't show ALL the good stuff. And I think that it's great to see a piece to see someone as a real person and not what we see just because we hear his music. I thought it captured Ray. And from what I understand, that was all that Ray asked was to tell the truth.
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