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Jamie Foxx On Playing ‘Dreamgirls’ Bad Boy

“I am in the hot business,” said Jamie Foxx. “Artistic is hot. I try to find out what is the hottest thing you can do and then try to be successful at it…I am just lucky enough to have landed in some of the right places to try to keep it hot.”

He’s not kidding. Foxx has landed in the all star ensemble of the highly anticipated movie musical Dreamgirls and as he tells Hollywood.com, the heat index is about to rise by several dozen degrees.

Hollywood.com: Was this a difficult film for you to say yes to, or an easy one?
Jamie Foxx:
It was easy, once you see everyone that was involved. At first it started out just as an idea, and I was like ‘Man, I am with it!’ And my agent was like, ‘Wait a minute, too fast—we don’t know what’s going on,’ so I waited. Then they said Eddie Murphy was involved and I said ‘Oh, I got to be in that, I got to see this guy work.’ And then Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, and it just all came together in the right way. Then it was like ‘I don’t care what it takes to get in that. I want to be a part of that movie.’”

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HW: Your character Curtis is equally charming and calculating, and will stop at nothing to succeed. Do you see him as the villain of the piece?
JF:
I think in a sense he is. I think that the calculated thing that was going on in my mind with Curtis is that he is the type of guy that will do what he needs to do to make it, and those people are always scary. You can’t really pin them down as far as loyalty. He wanted to be able to control the group. Effie was a vocal person in the group so therefore he nixed the relationship with her. Then I see that Deena is my money—‘Oh let me marry Deena, so now how can she tell me no? I am her husband.’ And there are people like that in the music business that I ran into. Not like necessarily Berry Gordy, but I wanted to make Curtis unforgiving and relentless because it is the movie. If it was the play maybe they would make something at the end soften him up because people have to come see this every week, but for the movie I think Curtis had to be that black hole that everybody was trying to get out of. At the same time what’s funny is when the executive I run into out here goes ‘I don’t understand why people don’t like Curtis? [laughs] He’s just trying to provide. I loved him Jamie—great job!’ I think literally that is what I was trying to get, all the artists and the people that feel this. One black girl called my friend and said ‘Tell Jamie Foxx I am going to slap the sh*t out of him for what he did to Eddie and Beyonce.’”

HW: How do you imagine Motown’s legendary founder Barry Gordy feels, knowing that people believe Curtis is based largely on him?
JF:
I think I know how he feels, because the play ran for a long time. This is not really his story, because you can’t do what Berry Gordon did at that time without having some type of redeeming quality about him. Because when he took black music and ushered it into the white world, he didn’t just say ‘Here is the record.’ He actually took those artists and taught them how to be eloquent, how to speak and how to perform, so it was a little bit deeper than what Curtis shows. Curtis shows you the greedy American dream, the capitalistic version of the American dream, so it’s not fair to say that it is Berry Gordy.

HW: Do you think this movie is more for fans of the original musical, or for fans of the musicians starring in it?
JF:
I know one thing: this movie is going to be a lot of fuel for whoever is singing. When Jennifer Hudson drops her album, even Beyonce’s album is going up now because we are getting closer to Dreamgirls My album went up 13 percent because of Dreamgirls. So it is actually a great time and a weird time to be a celebrity, because at one point you could only do one thing and now you pretty much have to do all of it in order to make it successful.

HW: Jennifer Hudson is the newcomer in the cast. Have you given her any advice at all on handling the sudden explosion of fame and popularity and press and all of that?
JF:
I think that Jennifer Hudson is prepared for it, because I think that anybody who would stand up on the American Idol stage and take that sort of abuse—because when I saw the tapes of whatever the dude, the Simon [Cowell] dude, I went ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, this girl is great!’ So going through all of that when all the world was watching, I think she is going to be fine. What is great is to see her innocent and to see her fragile—that’s the wonderful thing. You see somebody where this should be happening, so don’t tell her too much because she will over-think.”

HW: How was the reality of working with Eddie Murphy compared to whatever expectations you had going in?
JF:
Crazy. I would just be looking at Eddie Murphy going ‘Wow. that is Eddie Murphy.’ Because as a comic he was the first dude that made it sexy. The first dude that made it hot—he made comedy rock and roll. He had leather on and the jewels and he was cussing. As opposed to listening to the record in the basement, Richard Pryor record. He said forget that record—I am going to take this to the stage, I am going to be 18 years old in Des Moines, Iowa doing stadiums so to me he is the legend of what any entertainer would want to be able to do: take that comedy, go to a hot TV show, go to movies and do all the different characters. For me it was a great experience.

HW: Careerwise, Eddie Murphy was hotter than hot, then had a cool down period, and then got hot again. Do you wonder if your career will follow a similar path?
JF:
I think for Eddie Murphy it is tougher, because I don’t think he has done too many movies where he didn’t make 100 million dollars and people even at that point said ‘Ah, but he ain’t really hot.’ I would never want that type of pressure. I like where I am. Some people said ‘Jaime, you didn’t get a chance to sing in that movie. Everybody else had songs. How did that feel?’ I kind of like my position of just kind of being in the back, because I have been so shiny and out there—‘Look at me, I got a movie! Look at me, I got a record!’ When you watch someone rising at the top it is kind of tough because they grade you a little different. It is good to see him now and even I was going, some lady yelled at the Oprah table ‘Glad you back, Eddie!’ And he said ‘Where I been?’ And I said ‘No, you haven’t been anywhere, but we missed you. The Eddie Murphy fans missed that dangerous quality of you in things.’ So that is tough for him.

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HW: How did it feel to be acting in a classic-style, old-fashioned movie muscial?
JF:
Somebody was talking about The Whiz and I said it’s like walking into your mom or you father’s closet, grabbing clothes and looking in the mirror and acting out these characters. So it was great. Bill Condon did a fabulous job of connecting the drama in everything to this musical to make it a real movie.

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