Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Jamie Foxx

Making Any Given Sunday in 1999, I initially cast Sean (Puffy) Combs in the lead as our quarterback. But when that didn't work out, I went back to Warner Bros. executives, who didn't seem to realize they had a valuable asset already signed, doing their Jamie Foxx Show. Nor did they remember him as Wanda, the hilarious transvestite from In Living Color. I was very impressed with Jamie's technique, shooting his popular show, week after week, live in front of an appreciative audience. He was a natural, and it turned out he had been a quarterback in high school. He had speed and quickness. He could throw a tight spiral. He had guts.

I can't say he did all his own stunts, but he did more than he had to and took a pounding. That exemplifies his drive as an actor and athlete. As Bundini Brown in Ali he played a stooped, older man, but the physicality was absolutely genuine. And in Ray he moved and sang and played the piano with just the right touch. Jamie Foxx was born to act.

Jamie, 37, has been performing since he was a kid in Texas. He can sing, dance, do both drama and comedy. People say he has come on fast, but I think he's paid his dues. It was in his TV training that he found his confidence and rhythm. What is unique about Jamie is his uncanny ability to imitate: a transvestite, a white man, a blind black musician. I told him one day he has to play James Brown. Who else would have the energy to pull that off?

Stone is the writer and director

From the Archive
The Art of Being a Confidence Man: Jamie Foxx has ambition, talent and acres of self-esteem. All that and the movie Ray may snag him an Oscar nod