Wide Awake Jamie Foxx Talks ‘Sleepless,’ Prince and Approaching 50

(l-r) T.I. and Jamie Foxx star in SLEEPLESS. ©Open Road Films. CR: Erica Parise.


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD—He’s an Oscar-winning dramatic actor, a Grammy winning music artist and an accomplished stand up comic. He spoke at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration celebration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd of thousands. And last year, Jamie Foxx became a real life superhero when he rescued a motorist from a burning vehicle outside his home. At 49, Foxx already has lived an extraordinary life, and it appears he is just getting warmed up.

The Terrell, Texas, native rose to fame as a comedian, then joined Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Tommy Davidson on the landmark Fox TV sketch-comedy series “In Living Color.” In 1996, he launched “The Jamie Foxx Show,” which ran for five seasons.

In 1999, Oliver Stone cast him opposite Al Pacino as star quarterback Willie Beamen in “Any Given Sunday.” Foxx learned a lot from his legendary director and co-star, namely, that respect for the art is more important than commercial success.

Following his breakthrough performance, Foxx played Drew Bundini Brown, Muhammad Ali’s corner man, in “Ali,” starring Will Smith. In 2004, Foxx became the first black actor to be nominated for two Oscars in the same year—for the Ray Charles biopic “Ray” and “Collateral”—and won Best Actor for his dead-on depiction of the late great soul singer.

He easily bounces between big budget action movies (“The Kingdom,” “White House Down”), comedies (the “Horrible Bosses” franchise) and serious dramas (“The Soloist”). He even played a supervillain (Electro) in 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Further demonstrating his versatility, he starred in the 2006 hit musical “Dreamgirls,” where he co-starred opposite Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson, who scored an Oscar.

He now returns to action form in the action-packed thriller “Sleepless,” in which he plays Vincent, a Las Vegas police officer who may be in cahoots with a drug-dealing casino boss, who is supposed to deliver the drugs to a ruthless drug kingpin. When his teenage son is kidnapped after millions of dollars worth of cocaine goes missing, Vincent will do whatever he has to rescue him. Meanwhile, a determined Internal Affairs investigator (Michelle Monaghan), who is convinced Vincent is crooked, is hot on his heels. Dermot Mulroney, Scoot McNairy and Tip “T.I.” Harris) co-star in the film directed by rising German filmmaker Baron Bo Odar.

One of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors, Foxx shows no signs of wanting to change that status. (He has two daughters, 22-year-old Corrine and six-year-old Annalise, from separate relationships.)

The multitalented performer is also an accomplished singer and musician. His fifth studio album, “Unpredictable,” released in 2015, debuted at the top of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart. He revealed during an interview promoting his newest film that he is working on another album. Dressed in a red-checkered flannel shirt and jeans, the self-deprecating actor quips that he resembles “the Brawny man,” referring to the iconic studly lumberjack that sells paper towels.

Q : How do you feel about playing a character who may be a corrupt cop?

Foxx: I think there’s great in characters. I think if you look at all the great, not to say this is a great character, but those characters that you look at that have those layers of are they good, are they bad, what’s the struggle, it’s always more interesting to watch.

Q: Your co-star Michelle Monaghan almost took your tooth out during your intense fight scene with her?

Foxx: Yeah. Well my best friend that lives in Atlanta and he’s a dentist. He came and hooked me up, took me to the office and put in the porcelain.

Q: Baron Bo Odar, your “Sleepless” director, said he always gives his actors one word to help them connect with their characters. What word did he give you?

Foxx: Well, he talked to me about the sexiness of the character, right in my ear. “Sexy.” That’s all I needed. (He laughs.)

Q: He also said you were very entertaining and kept up the morale on set, especially during the long days of shooting.

Foxx: Of course. We had a lot of fun.

Q: Do you see yourself as the ringleader on set whose job is to keep everybody up through sometimes 14-hour days?

Foxx: I think both Michelle and I, just us as people, we want to make sure we never forget that we’re doing something that’s called make believe, and it’s Hollywood. Sometimes people can be, “Oh, I’ve been here 14 hours and all they have is Evian water and craft service is ****. Where’s the caviar?” So you try to make it where it is something fun to do.

I first did that when I was working with Oliver Stone on “Any Given Sunday.” There were about 200 extras in one scene, and Oliver Stone was shooting a 16, 17-hour day. The guys, as football players, would be there like eight hours straight, knocking each other’s heads off. You know how sets become. “Man, the director, man.” I could see that there was about to be a walkout, and at one point when (Stone) called “Action,” the guys ran all the way off the field and into the locker room, and I saw Oliver Stone standing in the middle of a football field like, “What just happened?” I said, “I’ll go talk to them.”

So I go in the locker room and say, “Hey man, what’s the problem?” (One of the guys said) “Foxx, man, we’ve been out there too long.” I said, “Yeah, but you’re out there too long with Oliver Stone. This movie is going to go down in history probably as one of the greatest sports films, and at the same time, we’re doing something Hollywood. We’re not really hitting each other so why don’t we rally up? Let’s go back out and get things going?” And they did. It becomes all of our jobs to make sure that we keep it in perspective and get to the finish line.

Q: Aside from your own music, if you could only listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Foxx: Prince. I got a chance to sneak away and see his concert when he did his 1998 (Jam of the Year) tour. I never seen nobody like that in my life. God bless that guy. He was amazing. Michael Jackson was great but Prince was just, oh man, the guy was just so amazing.

Q: Did you meet him?

Foxx: Yeah, man. I met him in the most uncomfortable way. I met Prince December 31, 1998. It’s about to be 1999. I met Prince in Las Vegas. The Time was doing a show at Studio 54. I look up and see Prince and I start crying. I said something stupid, like, you know how fans say, “Man, you know who you are?” “Yeah, I know who you are, dog.” And I’m marching (in place). I just went nuts and I didn’t know what to say and I started singing his songs. I said, “I know the B sides.” So I started singing the B-sides of his songs to him. He said, “You know what? Thank you.” And then I begged for a picture, and this was (pre camera phone), where you had to manually advance the film. This was my moment, right? (He laughs.)

So I go into the thing and The Time is playing, and (Time frontman) Morris Day says, “All right, break it down a little bit. Now I’m about to bring somebody out here. Don’t you all act a fool when he all comes out here, and I’m not going to let him sing. I’m just going to let him play.” And Prince walked on stage in a purple-feathered bomber jacket, and these black pants and he had a huge purple guitar with the big Gucci shades, and they started playing (“Cool”), and he did a guitar solo. I done forgot what this interview was about. (He laughs.)

Q: When are you going to do some more music?

Foxx: I’m doing something now.

Q: Do you think it will be out in 2017 before you turn 50?

Foxx: Yeah, yeah.

Q: How do you feel about turning 50 this year?

Foxx: My daughter’s like, “Dad, will you please catch up to your age?” because me and all my friends, we just act the same that we’ve acted years ago. But I think it’s a different time. When I was coming up, you’d said, “50, golly!” But it’s funny. I deejay at clubs sometimes where the average age is 21, 22. But they see me hanging out with Drake or Kanye (West) and they think I’m young like them. I’m hanging with these girls and they’re all about the deejay. I was like, “How old are you guys?” “Well I’m 21 and she’s 22 and oh my God, she’s ancient. She’s 27.” I was like, “Really, man?” She asked me how old I was and when I told her how old I was you would have thought I told her I had a terminal disease. She said, “How old are you?” I said, “49.” She says, “Oh my God. 49. Can’t you die from that? Come on girls. Get together. He’s got 49.” So I’m 49. But I think it’s about the way you live your life. I live young and if you live right and keep the weight off of you, it’s all good.

Q: What’s a typical Sunday for you?

Foxx: Oh man, it’s football, man. I’ve got the kids. My (oldest) daughter and her niece and nephew live with us now, so we’ll get up and go out for breakfast. To try to un-spoil your kids, they owe me certain things. Like they owe me 100 shots made on the basketball court, or they owe me different things and we just watch football and then it’s really fun. I mean Sundays are really fun. There’s also a religious component as well. My daughter learned the books of the Bible and the niece and nephew are doing that now too, so Sundays are fun.

Q: Do you ever just show up at a comedy club and do stand up?

Foxx: Yes. I’ve got the jokes. I just have to be careful in going to those places, because they’ll record your stuff and put it on the Internet. But I do workshops at my house. I have young comedians come to the house. We work out jokes.