Urban Cinefile
"In the case of both Kate and Leonardo it was, ‘Wow, we can do things that I hadn’t really thought of’, and that’s when casting becomes exciting "  -James Cameron on casting Titanic
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Life is a bit like playing the piano as Jamie Foxx learnt from the late Ray Charles during preparations for his role as the musical genius in Ray, the biopic directed by Taylor Hackford now out on DVD*, which won Foxx his first Oscar. As he tells Johanna Juntunen, “life is notes underneath my fingers, I just need to take the time to hit the right ones.”

What was the most challenging scene for you?
The scenes in the drug rehab were really tough. I remember those being really dark days. There were a lot of emotions being let out and at times you were exhausted after a couple of takes. So we really took that time and Taylor kept it fun and the crew were really there for that. They were there to support.

What is your favourite scene that you also think people will want to watch many times on the DVD?

A: The performance of "Let the Good Times Roll". Just that performance and how they re-created it and how they made it look so much like what it was back then.

On the DVD we can probably see some outtakes as well?
Oh yeah, you are going to see a gang of funny outtakes, you're going to see some music, hopefully some music that was created on the set, music inspired by Ray Charles. There are a lot of great things.

Did you have time to do any pranks while making the movie?
We had a lot of fun. They played a prank on me during the scene right after we finished the drug scene. They actually put the clamps on me and they left the set. So I was stuck with the clamps on, without lights on. There were pranks, it was fun and the funniest day, I don't know if it's on the DVD, but the funniest day in the world happened when…I have the prosthetics on and I'm playing blind and rocking back and forth and I'm laughing. Clifton Powell is in front of me and I laugh and I fall and he just breaks out into laughter, he thought I really fell. So, a couple of times that I would do something and he was breaking out.

So tell us, apparently you got to meet with Ray Charles before getting the role. How did it go?
It went great. It was different, seeing Ray Charles, the older Ray Charles, because your memory of Ray Charles is always (sings "The Right One Ba-by") and America the Beautiful, sort of seeing him in his element and he hugged me, we immediately went to the piano and he said:” Don’t worry about playing me, if you can do the blues you can do anything." So we started playing the blues and then went to different things, Thelonius Monk and then he lost me a little bit and then he asked me why I hit the wrong notes and I said: "I don't know" and he said: "Well the notes are right underneath your fingers boy, you just have to take the time to make sure you hit the right ones." And I use that as a metaphor for life now, life is notes underneath my fingers, I just need to take the time to hit the right ones and that's what we tried to do in this movie, just hit the right notes in this film and play music.

Were there any concerns about how you were going to portray him?

I don't think he was concerned about that. I think he pretty much took Taylor Hackford's word for it. It was just a matter of meeting and I needed that energy. Because when you're watching the movie you have to believe something spiritual was happening. It's not the same kind of movie. It's not really a biopic. When you look at the movie the way Taylor Hackford captured it, it's really a movie, so by getting that energy from him and that blessing made it completely different. I don't think he was there to judge and say “no” or “he's not going to be the one” or “he is”. I think he just wanted to meet and say, "I just wanted to check on him."

How did you take Ray Charles' death?
Well, it was tough but the thing was we knew about it. For the last six months of his life he let everybody know that this was happening to him. So he tucked himself away from sight but let us know he was happy with everything. He got a chance to view the movie in his own way. Quincy Jones made CDs and tapes of him talking so it was bittersweet. You'd think that everybody in here would want to leave that way where they tie everything up and make good with their family and friends and everything. So it was sad but it was also a celebration of a man's beautiful life.

* DVD of Ray Australian release: June 15, 2005

Published June 16, 2005

Email this article


© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020