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November 2005
Jarhead: An Interview with Jamie Foxx

Jarhead: An Interview with Jamie Foxx

By Wilson Morales

Having won the Oscar last year for his performance in "Ray", Jamie Foxx is ready to add flavor his resume. Earlier, we saw him in the little seen high flying film, "Stealth", where he played an Air Force pilot. In his next role, Jamie goes deep and tough as he plays Sergeant Sykes, a Marine lifer who heads up a scout/sniper platoon in "Jarhead". In speaking with blackfilm.com, Jamie talked about his experience on the film as well as his role in "Dreamgirls".

Are you ready to give up acting for singing now?

Jamie Foxx. No, I'm not ready to give up anything. I want them to get tired of me.

When you got this role it was before the Oscar and everything but was your decision to take on a supporting role?

JF: You know what in this situation you get to have a relationship with Sam Mendes I think is worth all of it. We had such a good time doing the film and in the futureŠ. At the time you.. no one really knew what "Ray" was going to do. Because Ray at one point for a while didn't have a home. We were like we had to get cracking and get our hustle on and this is a Great hustle (Jarhead). It's a good look. It's meat on the bone. It's not contrived and didn't look like I was trying to get all the money and stuff. Because I don't want it to look like OK, I'm Johnny Carson now. Cause I've always enjoyed being the Ed McMahon. Ed McMahon has always been the coolest spot. What I mean by that is Will Smith is Johnny Carson. Tom Cruise is Johnny Carson. I'm Ed McMahon. Winning the Oscar is kind of like Ed McMahon when he got "Star Search." It was like, "Oh, you got your own thing.

What was the vibe on the set like once you got back to the set and won the Oscar?

JF: It was great. It was great getting back to the set. Because those guys were like, yo ma n how was it, who was there. Clint Eastwood, Meg Ryan. It was crazy. It was fun with those guys and it was fun with me having something like that cause when you look at other Oscar winners like Denzel and Halle. It was like wow yes, they won but with me I was down in Miami after I won cracking jokes. I'm able to talk about things with those guys that maybe some of the other Oscar winners couldn't talk about.

Your career is kind of split because you had the booty call era (Jamie interjects: Yeah and now the biopic era I still don't understand why we got overlooked. Can you talk about the range that you've experienced?

JF: Like I said it's been a great ride. Going back to In Living Color. I see that that show is running on BET now and when you look at it you see the training ground because those guys were doing things that weren't just jokes real characters, give characters different feelings more than one dimensional. It was a great training ground with Jim Carrey, Damon (Wayans) and all those cats so with this you're happy that you have that background and those tools to be able to go in to some of the characters that we go into because we played Sargeants in some of our sketches now all you do is knock off the funny and actually play the sergeants you do Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder and knock off the funny and actually do the character. To just see it play out like it has it really makes you feel good on the inside about whatever is coming next you're going to be able to get into it and try to make it happen for you.

And has Tookie Williams reached out to you?

JF: Yes. If you don't know we did a story called "Redemption" a movie on the FX channel it was a great story and we got 50,000 letters from young kids who don't want to gang bang anymore and e-mails and things like that. Tookie Williams is on death row in San Quentin. He's written children's books in the past and has gone all over the world and got nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. He's a tortured soul a tortured man and out of all that torture some great things happened. So they're planning on executing him. And not only that it's like they can't wait which is sad because after the movie came out I think it was a little too much for them because he became a different kind of icon. But were trying to get him pardoned and go straight to the top to the governor. But what's sad is they are executing him on my birthday, Dec. 13. We want to say that at least he's done so, so, much for the kids. And a lot of times it takes that for the young kids in the hood to hear somebody from the hood say yo man this is not what you really want to do.

How have perceptions changed in the industry since you've won the Oscar and do you think that you're becoming more selective about the kinds of roles you want to do at this point of your career?

JF: As far as perception has changed, I don't know if perception has changed. There has been that sort of (he turns away and whispers, Oh, he thinks he's) so what you have to do everyday is kill that Oscar beast and go out and try and take two or three steps back and not be the ugly person that it can turn you into. And the way I've done that is to just keep telling jokes about it. Just as you're feeling like you're doing thing that you've done your thing, you've won the Oscar and you're at the top of your game and at t he top of the mountain and 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. What song was that you got it for? So they like let you know, everybody ain't feeling it, so you bring it back down and you use the Oscar for those things that you really want when you used to go up in the office and say I need those scripts back there and they'd say no we're not giving those scripts. Now they'll offer you those roles and we create on the dribble. We're basketball players we create off the dribble. So we needed it. We needed it so we can set things up for our career in the future. When I say create off the dribble that's what I mean. They always talk about the Oscar curse and usually that's a person---if you know basketball‹that's a person who has to come off the screen and shot it meaning that someone has to set it up for him with this we create off the dribble. We do stand-up so we can go our left, we do music so we can go to our right we can write the movie so we can go around our back. So by having that we use it as our tool.

You're about to shoot "Dreamgirls" and it's got a great cast but the role of "Effie" still hasn't been cast. There's been rumors that Fantasia may come aboard. Can you talk about that?

JF: I think that if Fantasia does the movie, it's out of here. If Fantasia does the movie it's out of the stratosphere. It's nuts. But at first I wasn't going to do it. Then I found out that Eddie Murphy was going to do it, Beyonce was on; come on man I got to be in that because that's going to be outstanding.

How about Miami Vice? How is that going?

JF: Miami Vice is going great. Colin Farrell is a great individual. Lady killer. It's great to see him getting into that Crockett and again I'm Ed McMahon, so it's right up your alley we have guns, the city and a different look that Michael Mann is going to put on it. It's going to be hot.

With Ray behind you, would you turn your back on completely on any additional biopics particularly with there being talk of doing the Marvin Gaye story and Rick James movies?

JF: I always thought that the Marvin Gaye story was incredible. There are 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, that will make you go, what. So whoever tells that story is going to be good.

Could you pull it off?

JF: I'm probably sure I could give it a good crack at it. I think that the Mike Tyson story is the most interesting. I think that's the most interesting story that nobody knows. The stuff I know the stuff that I found out will blow your mind. Mike Tyson gives you phrases that if you listen to it, will blow your mind. He said when asked, Mike how do you feel?

He said, "I'm happy I'm more happy now and I don't have any money." Why Mike. "Cause I'm just here and I don't have to worry about anything." He was with a kid during the interview and he was teaching the kid how to box. He said, "I'm so happy I don't have any money so they don't have to worry about it anymore, nobody has to do me wrong nobody has to fucked me over." I said that's where you go. You do the story about that about how he feels now after he looks back on what all happened. Another thing that stuck with me during the interview was when he was asked Mike things are just crazy for you why is it so crazy? Mike said you give a kid who is 19 years old, $60 million dollars and see how crazy it will be for him.

Have you talked with anyone about doing any of these?

JF: No, I just always put things out there and hopefully it will catch and that's what I did with Miami Vice.

You just talked about two people with very tragic arcs. Marvin Gaye killed by his father, Mike Tyson (Jamie: Killed by Robin Given) What do you think is the message of the movie and why did you want to be a part of it?

JF: I don't think there was necessarily a message but I think that 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. With Staff Sargeant Sikes, he was trying to explain to them simplicity he was making it simple, by saying this is what you need to 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 go to brunch we think a lot. A lot of these guys are from places where they don't think a whole lot. Like a lot of my friends when they come from Texas they're like man why y'all always talking and debating and everything, why don't you guys be quiet. And when you do go to Texas what do you see? You see somebody on the porch (he crosses his arms and feigns to be sitting in a chair on the porch) not saying anything. So that what was in this movie, like Jake and I when we first started doing this, it was like don't they feel bad but being in the military it is a simple life and just happens that war breaks out and it complicates it a little bit but it's a simple way of thinking of what Staff Sargeant Sikes was trying to get across

Have you ever had it tough enough where you thought they hey, maybe I'll quit this business?

JF: Oh yeah, I moved to Vegas right after "In Living Color." I couldn't get any work; it was like, Who lives in LA? You know that if you live in LA you have to have your shine on if you're not shining and you dip quick the minute they found out the show was over I mean I remember seeing this girl and that's when I knew that it was time for me to get out. This girl was walking towards me and I was like ahhhh. Yeah she's probably when watching the show and she said hi and I said hey and she said, "Do you know where Chris Tucker lives?" Then she said you look so familiar. I had to move to Vegas because it was bad here. Cats were like, "What you gonna do now man? Your stuff is over."

Another Chris Tucker story: At one point I had gotten so into myself cause I thought everybody was watching In Living Color ad I remember going up on stage one day and doing rich jokes like in front of these guys from the hood. I was like yeah man I just got that Range Rover and they were like man what are you talking about.

I walked off stage and I could hear all this laughter. I thought what are they laughing at I just walked off. I looked by in and there was this young, thin black guy with bulging eyes and it was Chris Tucker (this was years ago) and he was killing them. I sat down and said that's what I need to do. I need to go back and find what it is that I do because I lost it for a second. So I moved back to Vegas and we put our heads together and Warner Bros. at the time was looking for some shows and went there and I did the Jamie Foxx show and I got a brand new start and I said I never want to slip like that again. Years went by and I'm in the Laugh Factory and I hear "coming to the stage," and it was Chris Tucker and he had a suit on with a red tie and he was telling rich jokes and he said I wonder if you girls would love me for me or my money. And I said wow, I went to him and I said I see what's happening. I challenged him, I challenged Cedric The Entertainer and Bernie Mack and I said don't lose that cause once you lose it it's hard to try and get it back.

I think what everyone wants to know is how has your pick up of the ladies changed?

JF: It's changed drastically. I mean now. I bought a Lamborghini too. It's crazy. I think what it is, is a different type of women when you win an Oscar. It's like all you young women in the club, I'm not messing with you right now. I'm with the 35 and older women with their own companies and they break down everything like that night you won I was so touched. And I'm like girl I'm going to touch you again. These are things that I can say that maybe Halle and Denzel can't say cause I never get to joke. I told Will (Smith) I was making love to this girl after I won the Oscar and she said, "Oh, Jamie. I said no, no,no that's not my name, oh, Academy Award winner Jamie." So, I tell you if you don't have one (an Oscar) get you one.

What was it like being out on the desert with a bunch of males?

JF: It was camaraderie. These guys even though they were shooting blanks, they still wanted to make it look like they were the best of what they do. When you look at the Marines in the corps, it's camaraderie. People view it differently depending on where they're from. When you go back home with that soldier's uniform on you're heralded. You did something for your country. I know it sounds weird but people still say God Bless America in certain parts of the country.


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