Release Date: October 29, 2004 (US)
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writter: James L. White
Jamie Foxx as: Ray Charles
Co-Stars: Kerry Washington, Regina King
Runtime: 152 min | USA: 178 min (extended version)
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: PG-13 for depiction of drug addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements
Production budget: $40 million (estimated)
Box office: $ 125 million
Links: Imdb – Official Site
Born in a poor town in Georgia, Ray Charles went blind at the age of seven shortly after witnessing his younger brother’s accidental death. Inspired by a fiercely independent mother who insisted he make his own way in the world, Charles found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard. Touring across the Southern musical circuit, the soulful singer gained a reputation and then exploded with worldwide fame when he pioneered incorporating gospel, country, jazz and orchestral influences into his inimitable style. As he revolutionized the way people appreciated music, he simultaneously fought segregation in the very clubs that launched him and championed artists’ rights within the corporate music business.
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- Jamie Foxx won the Oscar and over 20 other awards for his role as Ray Charles.
- Jamie Foxx had to wear eye prosthetics that really did make him blind for up to 14 hours a day during shooting.
- Jamie Foxx played the piano in all scenes himself.
- Jamie Foxx studied Ray Charles to better mimic him. After a few weeks he stopped visiting Ray saying that a 73-year-old Ray Charles couldn’t help him in portraying a 19-year-old Ray Charles, up until age 49, by the movie’s ending.
- Jamie Foxx attended classes at the Braille Institute in order to help him play the role of Ray.
- Jamie Foxx remarked that the demanding role barely left him any time to sleep, as his day would begin early in the morning filming for long hours, and then he’d go home and stay up late practicing piano.
- The movie was the first African-American biopic to be nominated for (6) Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Picture.
- Denzel Washington was first approached to play the title role, but passed on the project.
- Ray Charles died of liver failure on 10 June 2004, after filming had ended. He was able to sit through the first edit of the film before his death.
- The film went on to become a box-office hit, earning $75 million in the U.S. with an additional $50 million internationally, bringing its world wide gross to $125 million.
When I read the script I realized that this was a really phenomenal story, not just about music, but abut a man who overcame all kinds of difficulties to become a real leader of the culture. The way he intertwined everything he experienced in his life to make this amazing music, it was really something special.
– Jamie Foxx
I can’t believe how good [Foxx] is. I’ve had a couple of people who saw him work and they came back and said, ‘Ray, you just won’t believe this guy! He’s got you down so pat that he even walks like you! He does everything exactly like you.’ I only go by my personal experience with him and I think he’s phenomenal. He’s a wonderful man.
– Ray Charles
The key word for me was nuance, because I didn’t want to simply impersonate him. Rather, I wanted to capture some part of his spirit, that’s all. There were a lot of little touches which I tried to layer—his musicality, his warmth, his sense of balance, his posture— until the physical side of things all fell into place.
– Jamie Foxx
Now, I look at Ray Charles’ legacy and I realize that he was so necessary…necessary for all of this music he helped create, for all the inspiration he brought, for the moment he carved out of history. He left behind a real mark and it’s exciting to have gotten to know him as I did.
– Jamie Foxx
Jamie turned out to be so talented and committed. The scenes we had together were very special because they were so intimate. When Ray was with Della he was able to really show his soul, the essence of who he was, and Jamie did that so gracefully and beautifully, it made it easy for me to respond emotionally.
– Kerry Washington
Jamie Foxx, in his brilliant performance in Ray, captures those joyfully severe movements with uncanny spiritual precision, to the point that you forget you’re watching an impersonation.
– Entertainment Weekly
Jamie Foxx gets so far inside the man and his music that he and Ray Charles seem to breathe as one.
– Rolling Stone
Every once in a while, a performance pops out of a Hollywood movie that is so brilliant and unique to the matching of actor to role that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else achieving it.
– New York Daily News
There may not be a bigger-hearted performance this year than Jamie Foxx’s in Ray. (…) Foxx does what he’s supposed to. He steals his own show. His body movements are not exaggerated but subtle; and his verbal performance is remarkable, perfectly capturing Ray’s inflections and directness, yet making them his own. Being Jamie Foxx, the funny man from “In Living Color,” he’s never far away from a humorous aside, whether it’s a slight furrowing of the brow, a quick rejoinder or a deftly comic “hello!” when things are getting a little out of hand around him, which they often are. No matter what comes down, and there’s a whole lot of that, this Ray carries his own charismatic flashlight because no one else is going to do it for him. And as he lights his way, he illuminates the whole theater.
– Washington Post