Saturday, 9 June 2012
JAMIE FOXX Feature: EVERYTHING ENTERTAINMENT
Straight From The Foxxhole.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Webster defines the word 'entertainment' as "amusement or diversion provided especially by performers" and "something diverting or engaging: as (1) : a public performance (2) : a usually light comic". Now put a picture next to that because you could personify entertainment as Eric Bishop or as we know him less formally; Jamie Foxx.
Foxx is the definition of versatile. People always talk about the crossover talents of those celebrities who have dual occupations, but Jamie is your real, legit and certified triple-threat. The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers once said (and I'm paraphrasing here somewhat) "actors can't sing and singers can't act", but with all due respect the usual on-point performer is wrong. Mr. Foxx has Oscars and Grammy credits to prove everyone differently. Not only is the charming and charismatic Foxx an incredible-and still somewhat underrated-actor and singer, the stand up guy and comedian is also one of the funniest people around.
I knew it. I always said it. I don't want to sound like one of those 'I told you so' or 'I had a part in this' writers trying to look for a credit but I always told people in the 'Any Given Sunday' days that this guy was going to be something. After his mesmerizing introduction and emotionally inspiring performance in 'Ali' as the greatest boxer of all times ring-man Bundini. A perfect performance with full support that led to dynamic director Michael Mann casting him for the taxi-confined, tense and dramatic thriller 'Collateral' (with a perfect part alongside Tom Cruise and against his assassin character) during the golden era of the 'Ray'/Kanye West hit making days that truly propelled him to superstardom.
He did it. After years of being the best party host for celebrities in Hollywood and bringing the laughs with 'The Jamie Foxx Show', 'In Living Color' Jamie truly made it. No one deserved it more than the nicest, hardest working man in show business who still doesn't get his due for all his versatile talent that still seem like a walk in the park (probably the reason why people overlook him somewhat sometimes).
Now Foxx looks to get even bigger and better with his future works. He's just taken over Will Smith. First this Christmas will see the tidings of a new Quentin Tarantino film 'Django Unchained' where Jamie will show us more of his range as a gun slinger. Taking the lead ahead of the greatest actor of our time Leonardo DiCaprio, the marvelously menacing, Tarantino darling Christopher Waltz, and seasoned co-worker and 'Avengers' assembler Samuel L. Jackson. This film looks to cause as much revolution as it does controversy. Will Smith was originally meant for this wild Western (may have looked a little 'Wild Wild West') but was working on current hot flick 'Men In Black 3'. Still Jamie seems perfect for this role and being the only star around as versatile as Smith, you know one day he could be as big. They've both had their own shows, albums and film-rolls stretching from the spitting sides of comedy to the most hard-fought of heart wrenching dramas.
They're both great friends too. Going way back. Foxx even provided the Fresh Prince with some funny interludes as the character 'Keith B-Real' on Smith's solo, monster debut album 'Big Willie Style'. You know there's no rivarly. It's all love and blessings like Mark Ruffalo taking the torn Hulk shirt off Edward Norton for 'The Avengers'. Smith wished he could have worked with Tarantino for 'Django' but says it's going to be "ridiculous". The biggest star on the planet probably isn't even mad-just glad-that Foxx is being tapped to play the President in a new film 'White House Down'. There was a time where rumors circulated that Spike Lee was going to direct Will and those ears for a Barack Obama biopic but it seems that Foxx has this role trapped. Sure the President definitely deserves a movie and most people would think the role would belong to Smith, but with no Will, there is a way...and his name is Jamie.
Jamie isn't the next Will Smith though, he's the next Jamie Foxx. Almost as bankable and with his versatility probably more marketable these days then the great Denzel Washington. Creating a legendary legacy in his own right Foxx can stand next to DiCaprio in more than just one picture. He's arguably as famous. Right there with the Damon's, Clooney's and Pitt's as one of the silver screens biggest stars. He should have been in the 'Oceans' films he's that big. Big enough to play the president and Smith roles. Throughout all the dramas and show business its all light and laughs too. Even when he's set to go head to head once again with 'Law Abiding Citizen' co-star Gerard Butler and his own White House movie; 'White House Taken'.
Just like 'Law Abiding Citizen'. Jamie's got so many great films under his multifaceted, utility belt already that you forget the great things he's already done. It's been a long time since he was part of the assembly line in 'Toys'. There's been 'Stealth', 'Jarhead', 'The Kingdom', a hilarious cameo in last years funniest film 'Horrible Bosses' as a character with the best name ever and a little help in 'Due Date' for Robert Downey Jnr. Like Robert helped him in 'The Soloist', where Jamie perfectly portrayed the real-life drama of Nathanial Ayers, a schizophrenic chello player who studied at New York's Julliard but ended up homeless in Los Angeles Skid Row. A sobering story of a musician that needed to be heard more. An emotionally raw role which should of garnered Foxx his second Oscar.
It wasn't the first time Jamie was overlooked. He should have arguably taken home the double 'Best Actor' and 'Best Supporting Actor' gongs when he was nominated for 'Ray' and 'Collateral' after being the third actor ever to be nominated for both by the Academy. He could have been the first actor to do this. He should have been. This is how legendary this man is. You know he deserved his star on the Walk Of Fame in Hollywood. His chilling performances in the confines of a taxi in 'Collateral' was something else and defined to the world just how good an actor he was. Next to the most Hollywood of stars in Tom Cruise, Foxx controlled this piece even as he drove Cruise's character around a dark, downtown Los Angeles with a gun to his head as Cruise's assassin knocked people off without even paying a fare. Just cue Foxx's emotion change from nervously apprehensive to seriously assured during key scenes. The testament to this gritty, action thriller was that the confrontations in the cab where as dramatic and thrilling as the shootout scenes, a Mann hallmark that has become iconic. He should have received that Oscar.
Thankfully though as well as leaving a lasting impression on the Academy he did on Mann too. After his show of solidarity and support for Smith on Mann's 'Ali' in all its charismatic, motivating inspiration, Foxx went on to partner Colin Farrell in Michael Mann's trip downtown, down in South Beach in the cool and calculated 'Miami Vice' remake. Another bold, big hit. Foxx received his just deserves for 'Ray' however and it goes beyond the Oscar. The late, legendary piano man was so impressed himself with Foxx's vocal and mannerism perfect performance of the great icon. Foxx has tinkled on the ivory since age 5, but it was like he'd been playing Ray Charles his whole life. Setting a new benchmark and trend in biopics, you almost couldn't tell it was Jamie like rapper turned actor Common once said. Still with that being said, Foxx's own style and charisma came shining through those dark glasses too, showing just how good a character he is.
It's this award winning interpretation and the critically acclaimed, but Academy unheralded and underrated portrayal of former gang member turned Noble Peace Prize winning Stanley 'Tookie' Williams in 'Redemption' (a role Foxx got so close to he ended up being one of the last people the real-life Tookie called before he was killed on death row (a true friend, this story deserves more time and ink in itself)) that makes Foxx the go-to-guy for biopics. Not in a generic way, but a genuine one. That's just how good Foxx is, that's why 'The Soloist' can play President. He's more than a chameleon portraying people though, he's his own man in his own right too.
Don't forget his diverse and already vast filmography. Coming late into the game-being truly famous for around a decade now at age 44-let's not forget Foxx in the early, funny days of 'Breaking All The Rules' and 'The Truth About Cats & Dogs'. Or his breakthrough role coached by Al Pacino in the top sports classic 'Any Given Sunday' which came with a song. Speaking of scoring soundtracks, how about his role in the Oscar winning 'Dreamgirls'? Or 'Rio', 'Valentines Day' or 'The Players Club'? Or more projects in the pipeline. Like his foray into video game territory, able to play Lynch in the movie version of 'Kane & Lynch', now in filming. Or his role as the villain Electro in the forthcoming 'Amazing Spider-Man' sequel that looks set to be electrifying. Who knows the roles he's had to turn down.
Because Jamie Foxx is more than an actor. If you don't think that's true then tell that to the hits he's made for Kanye West and the beginning of his career ('Slow Jamz', 'Gold Digger') among others (Twista, Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and LL Cool J after ending their 'Sunday' starting feud). Tell that to the records he's sold. The just shy of 2 million he moved with his 'Unpredictable' release. An album that came on the same year and heels of the Oscar nomination of 'Collateral' and success of 'Ray'. An album that made him the fourth Oscar winner ever to have a number one album in the same year, joining legends Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand. An album that will last in his legacy. An album that played tag team with Mary J. Blige's 'Breakthrough' atop the billboard 100 during the fall of that year.
Jamie has always been about singing and playing. From the underrated days of his debut 'Peep This' (featuring top tracks like 'Experiment', 'Miss You', 'Summertime' and 'Don't Let The Sun (Go Down On Our Love)') to his breakthrough beating J. Blige to the top spot. With 'Unpredictable' against the odds Foxx brought an album rich of classic, hallmark nighties R&B. It hadn't sounded this fresh since Babyface carried the Luther Vandross torch. With hits like 'Extravaganza' featuring Kanye, 'D.J. Play A Love Song' with Twista and the album title track co-starring Ludacris, with 'Unpredictable', Jamie made his music and himself heard. If that wasn't enough with beautiful ballads like 'Heaven' and 'Wish You Where Here' and tracks like 'VIP', 'With You' and 'Warm Bed' rounding out the album the Hollywood star proved he was more than a one or two hit wonder. This was no act.
Neither was his follow up. 'Intuition' came with the foresight of Foxx's most formidable hit and a video full of famous faces too. Jamie "Blamed it on the alcohol" with Forest Whitaker, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhall and Ron Howard of all people for the strangest night out ever. 'Happy Days' indeed. The singer followed the huge 'Blame It' with a 'Number One' with Lil' Wayne that sampled the Beastie Boys, 'Digital Girl' and its huge Kanye, Drake and The-Dream remix and another huge hit with T.I. Foxx holed another great album in one. Tracks like 'I Don't Know', 'I Don't Need It' (produced by Timbaland) 'Freaking You' and his remix of Ne-Yo's 'Miss Independent' ('She Got Her Own' with the R&B star and Fabolous).
Then came the 'Best Night Of My Life' album which featured the 'Winner' single with fellow musician turned actors Justin Timberlake and T.I. and 'Fall For Your Type' featuring Drake, to go along with 'Living Better Now' featuring Rick Ross and great tracks like 'Rejoice', 'Hit It Like This' and 'Yep, That's Me' with actor/rapper Ludacris. This album once again gave Foxx more credits as not only a legit R&B star but one of the genres best. Certified by fellow greats like writing and production partner and R&B general Tank and with an army of brilliant B-Sides (like 'Don't Know You Anymore', 'Till I Met Your Sister', 'Speak French' the 'One Too Many Drinks', 'Extravaganza' remix and more) it's clear this soul soldier has more in reserve. Now you know there will be another album in the works too. Especially giving how hard he's working.
Jamie Foxx's dead-on, deadpan impersonations of Luther Vandross, (Jamie also covered the Luther classic 'Creepin'' beautifully for the late legends tribute L.P.) Prince and Babyface during his musical comedy routines always proved he could sing, before he proved he was an artist in his own right. Plus his stand-up hilarious impersonations of people like Shaquille O'Neal, Mike Tyson, Diddy and Bill Cosby show just how perfect at impressions he truly is. A quality which obviously helps him become a chameleon character in his biopic pictures. Still just like in music and films, when it comes to comedy Jamie shows he has his own personal routine too. From the personification of things to his hilarious observations and his take on things, this Richard Pryor/Red Foxx (where do you think he gets the name from?) inspired and influenced comedian is right there with Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K and Jon Stewart as some of today's more hilarious funny men.
Just check his 'Straight From The Foxxhole', 'Unleashed' and 'I Might Need Security' specials or his old sketch show and recent award show gigs. Nothing however is funnier than his inspired, improv owning of a bad comedic during a roast that was cooling off by the dead-air joke. It's more than worth a YouTube. Echoing into someone elses microphone and pretending to be the drowning comics concerned conscious Jamie nails it, the comedian and the better mood of the night, lifting everything up in a light hearted way. Yet another brilliant and underappreciated gem of the career of an incredible and somewhat underrated talent.
Jamie had the last laugh then and will continue to have whatever the medium. Did we mention he's a top talk show host? Whether on camera, in the studio or on stage Jamie's charm and charisma will shine through and this star looks to get even brighter after his next term in office. He's about to be off the chain and who knows what will link in with that. A new album? A new comedy tour? Don't rule anything out as this multi-talented man can do it all, especially when he gets into his hard working zone. From music to movies, comedy and everything inbetween Jamie Foxx really is show business.
Now that's entertainment.