After conquering the worlds of acting, music and comedy, Jamie Foxx is ready for the next frontier. The Oscar-winning actor talks to us about getting behind the camera to direct a short film, under the guidance of celebrated director Ron Howard, for Canon's "Project Imaginat10n." Foxx is also prepping his first feature film as a director, and gives us a status update on the long-awaited Wanda and Sheneneh movie Skank Robbers.
How did you get involved with Canon's Project Imaginat10n?
I saw this commercial [for Canon] with Ron Howard, and I thought it was such a cool commercial, and next thing you know I have the opportunity to work with Ron on this project. It caught me at a time when I felt so ready to direct something. Ron is going to help me turn my vision into something cinematic.
You're finding inspiration in an unlikely place for your film.
Yeah, fans are submitting photos they took and we're gonna look at all of them and find the ones that are going to be the foundation of the film. People can still go to the website and submit photos until September 24. As soon as I find the photos that I'm looking for, we're going to get the writers and everyone involved. February and March is when we'll actually start shooting.
What's it been like having an A-list director for a mentor?
I have a little history with Ron Howard. We were at the inauguration for President Obama and we all sat near each other, and then he agreed to be in the video for "Blame It on the Alcohol." Hype Williams was directing the video, and I was like, "Yo, Ron Howard's gonna come down and be in the video." And Hype was like, "Get the hell out of here, what?" Next thing you know, Ron Howard comes around the corner. [Laughs] Bam.
Have you directed anything before this?
I directed episodes of The Jamie Foxx Show, and I would always get in trouble with the network for doing all these crazy shots. They would say, "Listen, stop trying to make a movie. This is TV." But I would always try to use it as practice for my directing eye. I also made a short called Tommy's Little Girl, with Paul Sorvino and Selma Blair. Since that time, I've just been chomping at the bit to get back to directing.
Any plans for feature films?
Oh yeah, I got a film I want to direct, it's called All Star Weekend. It's about two guys, one guy loves Kobe Bryant, the other guy loves LeBron James. When you talk about LeBron and Kobe, it's like talking about Republican and Democrat. It is all the way out there funny. I've talked to Kevin Hart, and I've talked to Ken Jeong from The Hangover. I would probably make a cameo in it. Hopefully we'll get that going really soon.
You've had a chance to work with some of the best directors in the business. What have you learned from watching them?
I take notes watching each of them. When it comes to Oliver Stone, he can tell a story without any lines. Just using the camera. From Taylor Hackford, I learned about using flashbacks to enrich the story. Ray was really a ghost story. We used the past to tell the story of the present and the future. And with [Quentin] Tarantino? Oh man, all of it. Everything. He does crazy things with the camera, he re-writes on the set, he gets the performance out of the characters. He uses music to write.
Speaking of Tarantino, do you feel any pressure because of the anticipation for Django Unchained?
No, man. I think it's going to be something real special. Django's gonna hit hard!
Finally, let's talk about the Wanda and Sheneneh movie. What's the status?
You know what, I still want to do the movie! Because the script that we have is so clever and so smart. But it comes down to Martin [Lawrence]. I think it would be a blast to do those characters again one more time. I've been asking Martin, you know, "Where you been, where you been at?"
Have you been pressuring him to do it?
I took a picture of my younger daughter, she's three-and-a-half, watching the Martin Lawrence Show and I sent it to Martin. I said "Look at this man, I miss you bro. We need to get back to this, man." But schedules have to work out, and, most importantly, Martin has to want to do it, man. But I just think, for our fans, they would go absolutely nuts.
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(Photo: Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images For Canon)