Jamie Foxx Interview For ‘White House Down’
Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country. Besides Tatum and Foxx, the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Lance Reddick, James Woods, Garcelle Beauvais and Rachelle Lefevre co-star. ‘White House Down’ opens in cinemas on June 28th in the US and on September 6th in the UK. Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) directs.
While you still have to bring that sort of “Presidential” aura to your role in ‘White House Down,’ I can’t imagine that if you ever envisioned to play a President that it would be this physical….
Jamie Foxx: For real! It was very physical (laughs), but especially for Channing. He got thrown around and he threw people around, I didn’t really have to do that sort of stuff. It wasn’t as physical for me but we did some things; I done some swimming pool bits, guns, rocket launchers…. and I enjoyed that, even though I’m on the other side of it. This is a President who’s nice with his hands, if somebody ran up on him and he had to fight he could do that, but guns and all that… he’s not about that. There’s actually a line in the film that Channing came up with where he’s like, “I don’t even hunt.” And this is where the President has to shoot a gun… a big gun for the first time (laughs). And it’s actually when he kills someone for the first time, that’s when he says that. But being the President, I couldn’t kick too much ass, I left that to Channing (laughs).
Besides the script and speaking to Roland Emmerich, what sort of research did you do to help you portray President Sawyer? And did you create a back-story for him that isn’t in the movie?
Jamie Foxx: I did. Research wise I talked to one of President Obama’s speech writers. That was really insightful, just seeing how they ramp it up and they can make a speech target the whole world. That was a great piece of information for me. But I done a lot of things to look “Presidential”, I lost weight, I watched lots of video of President Obama, President Clinton, President Bush…. I watched these guys to see how they moved and spoke and interacted with people. After that I just let Roland do his magic.
I looked at it like this, President Sawyer is a man who’s basically in a time that’s very similar to what is going on now in the world. There’s unrest in many parts of the world, there’s many countries that are having a hard time settling – and it could be for a number of reasons. With my back-story, for my own subtext, the people have the internet now and they can see that freedom is in the distance. When people get exposed to injustice and what is freedom all types of things are going to happen. In this situation President Sawyer is faced with the question of, “How do we move into the new world?” That’s his outlook.
Your chemistry with Channing Tatum is key to this. How did you guys work that out? Was it natural or did you purposely spend time together off-set?
Jamie Foxx: We really just got on straight way, that was very easy. Channing Tatum is bursting on the scene with all his talents and it’s a good time, he’s rising up and he’s humble with it. He’s at the top of his game and this is a fresh look for him. Being able to work with him was great, both of us our southern boys and I think we had fantastic chemistry – we cracked a lot of jokes on set (laughs). The film’s big popcorn fun and it felt like that on set. We both grew up watching movies like this and to be a part of it is humbling. It was completely natural.
Speaking to Channing he told me that Roland Emmerich allowed for a lot of freedom on set….
Jamie Foxx: Yeah, I had a ball. With Roland Emmerich, everyone should be able to do a film with him (laughs). He’s a blast. You work with some directors who sort of have it mapped out and it’s sometimes ironclad – which is fine, because you have to be disciplined as an actor, but Roland is like, “OK, here’s where we are,” but then we can dance around anywhere we want to and then if we go too far off he can pull us back in. It’s great to have someone who allows you to bring in your voice and bring in your ideas and then he shapes them in a way that he can get his movie executed.
What was it like walking onto the sets in ‘White House Down,’ I understand they pretty much built the White House to scale?
Jamie Foxx: It was amazing! I had a friend of mine, Jack – who’s also my trainer, he’s from DC and when he walked on the set he was honestly like, “Holy sh**! This is really the White House.” And they built the White House to scale, which I thought to myself, “This is a really big budget movie,” because I’ve been on movies where the budget was not so nice, you’d have a dude standing in front of a picture of the White House (laughs), and then the guy would move with the picture as you were walking and said your lines (laughs). And then when it’s day time they’d get the other picture (laughs). They done right, it really helps you as an actor and I think it will be great for the audience to see.
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