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This story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
A best actor Oscar winner for his star turn as Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray, Jamie Foxx has parlayed a career as a stand-up comic — born Eric Marlon Bishop, he chose a stage name inspired by Redd Foxx — into a multifaceted film career. Having finished Django Unchained, he appears next summer as the villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
The Hollywood Reporter: Did you ever imagine you’d play the president?
Jamix Foxx: Oh no. All the stuff I am doing now is beyond my wildest dreams — though I have met President Clinton, President Obama and President Bush before. And all of these guys, this is what you take away: They’re regular guys. George Bush loves his family, Christian man; President Obama loves his family, another Christian man; Bill Clinton, another Christian man. These guys are all human. Behind closed doors, they’re human guys. They are not mechanical machines even if their ratings are down.
THR: Which one do you like best?
Foxx: I like them all for different reasons. Obviously, with President Obama, there is a kinship because I am an African-American. Watching how he deals [with everything], he’s like LeBron James. Either he’s at the top of the mountain or they put him at the bottom of the ocean. I love watching the calmness and coolness, knowing that when the cameras are switched off and he is with his wife, he goes, “Holy mother! I had no idea it would be this bad!” If you look back on this time, you’ll look back on how chaotic it was and say, “Here’s a man who is not afraid.”
THR: Have you ever been to the White House?
Foxx: Yeah, I performed for President Obama. He hosted a Motown event in his place, and it was fantastic. Oh man, we need to put together a fund to take people to Washington, D.C., so they can see the monuments! It was enchanting. I think the White House was smaller but not less grand — it was more grand — than I imagined.
THR: Are you getting more active in politics?
Foxx: To be honest with you, I have gotten more serious after meeting Harry Belafonte a few months ago, and he explained to me about being an activist. He says: “Don’t sit around and let these issues go by and you don’t get a chance to say anything while you are hot. Do it when they really can hear you. What are you afraid of? We did it all. We stood in front of the dogs and the water cannons, and all you fear is someone will say a bad thing about you on your Twitter account.” I am on my way to see Mr. Belafonte right now. My thing is children and how we are disregarding them when they are killed by guns. Every Christian, Jew and gentile can come to an agreement that our kids are vulnerable, and how do we go the extra mile to make sure that they are taken care of?
THR: You went from filming White House Down to Spider-Man. How was that?
Foxx: We finished Spider-Man a couple of days ago. That was fantastic.
THR: Are we going to see you in Electro’s green-and-yellow costume?
Foxx: (Laughs.) Those are the secrets. You’ll have to see.
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