Read our interview with Jamie Foxx
We caught up with Jamie Foxx to talk about The Soloist and the emotion behind playing Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former classical music prodigy, playing his violin on the streets of L.A. who is discovered by a journalist Steve Lopez who endeavors to help the homeless man find his way, as the story unfolds a unique friendship is formed, one that transforms both their lives.
Directed by the Golden GlobeÂ® winner Joe Wright and also starring Robert Downey Jr.
The Soloist Is Available To Own On Dvd On 1st February
How did you feel about playing a Nathaniel knowing he's real person and still living?
JAMIE: To me it was taking this person's story and shining a light on him because he represents so much. He represents hope. He represents tragedy, music, friendship. It's a compelling story. The one thing I worried about was whether people that new him would believe the way I played him.
How is Nathaniel dealing with what is happening to him?
JAMIE: From what I saw when we were filming it, it seemed like his light was on. He was a guy who had been holding on for years for something good to happen and then he meets Steve Lopez and they start on this incredible journey and now this beautiful movie. I'm sure he is happy about it and I think that helps him with his situation.
You said you needed therapy because of this role. Why?
JAMIE: When I was 18 in college, somebody slipped a drug to me in a drink and it made me go off and I had to go to hospital and I thought I was losing my mind. My roommate at the time would talk to me every night and tell me that everything was cool, so when I did this movie it paralleled what happened to me then. I had a flashback to that time and I wanted the psychiatrist to explain to me why I was having those feelings. He explained that it was post traumatic stress when you let your mind go back to that space.
Is it true you cried when you first read the script?
JAMIE: I just cried reading it on the plane. I was on my way to London to beg Joe Wright to let me be in the film and I don't know if I'm a softie or it was the altitude but it just brought tears to my eyes.
Were you surprised at how Joe portrayed that part of LA?
JAMIE: When he looked at it he looked at it as something beautiful. I looked at it as something strange. I used to live down town but he made me understand what it was about and when I met the people downtown, they were happy and they had a different spirit and it was necessary to get the movie right to meet those people and to hang out with them.
What was it like to be filming in skid row?
JAMIE: It was fun to be down there. It is what it is - we all live in our own different circumstances and most of us are only a couple of circumstances from being homeless, but they don't look at it how we look at it. They know it's a tough situation but there is still laughter there. There is still camaraderie and that's what was interesting to me.
Were you familiar with skid row before the movie?
JAMIE: When I was starting out about twenty years ago and I had no money that was the place you could go to get cheap food. You would go there because things were so inexpensive. I only had a budget of about $US5 a day to buy food and I could get it down there.
Are movies about musicians more appealing to you?
JAMIE: For this film the character was so interesting and different and the music adds to it, but I don't think you can compare it to a film like Ray. They are both completely different.
How did you get his mannerisms?
JAMIE: I snuck downtown and watched him from a distance. He didn't even know I was there. I had a little hat on and he didn't know who I was. I watched him for a couple of hours and I filmed him with a camera while he was talking to other people. Anyone will tell you when you are doing a character, the character will come.
Do you still have a dream role?
JAMIE: Yes. I would love to play Mike Tyson.
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