Jamie Foxx stars in the new thriller “Law Abiding Citizen” about a man who seeks revenge on the district attorney who orchestrated the plea bargain that set his family’s killers free.
Foxx plays DA Nick Rice to Gerard Butler’s every-man Clyde Shelton in the film which opens today in theaters everywhere.
“Revenge is a tough thing,” Foxx said speaking to the film’s story. “I don’t know if that’s my Texas upbringing, but you have certain things about you that you say, ‘Ok, at that point, that’s where I would tip; that would be my tipping point.’ When you look at this movie, you look at your daughter and your wife who you love and you say, ‘Wow, what I would do?’ I’ve read stories about people taking the law into their own hands and that’s just bad. It’s tough.”
The film weaves a story of complexities with what initially appear to be plot gaps, but Foxx explained that that was the genius of the film and its director F. Gary Gray and producer Lucas Foster.
“Literally, we were flying by the seat of our pants at times and every single step Lucas Foster was like, ‘No, that’s not going to make sense when you do that. It will make sense if you do this.’ He is really responsible for making it work. It’s tough to do a movie like this; to sort of suspend the reality and take it out of the extreme, but he was great at it.”
Working with Gray and Foster was just one of Foxx’s resources in developing his character. Like most actors, Foxx turned to real people to study for his role, though this time, he didn’t deal with real life DAs, but with their opposition.
“I got with the defense attorneys because defense attorneys tell the truth about DAs,” Foxx said. “DAs always put their best food forward, but the defense attorneys are like, ‘They’re arrogant, they’re this they’re that,’ and I wanted to have a layer of that; the person that is detached emotionally about the case. If you take every case and you’re emotional about every case, you won’t be able to make it. That’s what I did.”
Foxx admitted that while falling into character and the genius of the crew, his challenge for ‘Law Abiding Citizen,’ was actually the process.
“We were writing as we were going and coming up with stuff,” he said. “Other than that I had a good time. ‘Blame It’ was number one at the time, so I kept coming on set singing. And Philly was a great city to shoot, and great food.”
Foxx has done well in film, television, and radio and he told reporters that being able to lean on different talents is important particularly in today’s unforgiving and fickle entertainment industry.
“You don’t know what’s gonna work,” he said. “You don’t know if this movie is going to be great. You don’t know if the songs are going to be hits. It’s hard to be a successful celebrity these days. It’s not about the celebrity anymore, it’s about the vehicle. If you have a great vehicle, you’re good. It’s tough out there.”
As far as his music career is concerned, Foxx said that he is going to stay current and churn out at least a couple more “young albums,” as he called it, before settling back into unadulterated R&B.
“I’m going to stay current,” he said. “All my R&B cohorts are out of jobs right now. Nobody wants to hear R&B. It’s sad. I sing R&B in the show, but if you want to be on the radio, you’ve got to stay young. My daughter always says, ‘Dad, you sound old. You sound 50. Why don’t you have a machine on your voice? Why don’t you have the auto-tune? They’re not going to like that.’ I’m thinking I’m killing it.”
“I have to get more albums and more material so when you’re out on the road you can relax,” he continued. “I had a conversation with Lionel Richie who said, ‘You’re a couple of albums away from getting your Vegas on.’ So I can just go to Vegas and say, ‘Hey, you know this one?’”
With a dual career, or even a tri-career if you consider his comedy radio show “The Foxx Hole,” Foxx said that he’s pretty protective of his work.
“The one thing you try to do is just be known for your entertainment as opposed to the Internet and ‘tweets’ and all that. If I’m doing jokes and I’m in this club and the jokes are designed for this club and somebody tweets it and the people that are reading it are not in the club. You’ve got to protect your art and still be out there. When we do radio shows, we’re having to explain a joke or we’re having to send a gift basket. It gets to the point where you want to kick somebody and say, ‘it’s comedy.’ As far as our radio show, we stay way out there. We’re like the Richard Pryor album that you had to go into the basement to listen to.”
Still, with the radio show, films, and hit records, Foxx said that his first love remains his first choice – Comedy.
“For me the comedy is much more enjoyable because that’s where I’m from. Sometimes when you’re doing the drama it gets so heavy,” he said. “And say you don’t have that big movie after ‘Ray,’ but then you get a hit song, so it feels a little better. We’re all very emotional. Every artist is so emotional. If you’re dying in one area, and if that’s the only area you’re in, it’s tough, but if you luck up and you get a hit record, you can hide behind that record. So, I cheat a lot. It’s tough for my friends that are just actors because there are not a lot of roles that are great or movies that are fantastic. I feel humble and lucky.”