Release Date: April 24, 2009 (US)
Director: Joe Wright
Writters: Susannah Grant, Steve Lopez
Jamie Foxx as: Nathaniel Ayers
Co-Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener
Runtime: 117 min
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug use and language
Production budget: $ 60 million (estimated)
Box office: $ 38.3 million
Links: Imdb – Official Site
Columnist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) is at a dead end. The newspaper business is in an uproar, his marriage to a fellow journalist has fallen apart and he can’t entirely remember what he loved about his job in the first place. Then, one day, while walking through Los Angeles’ Skid Row, he sees the mysterious bedraggled figure Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), pouring his soul into a two-stringed violin.
At first, Lopez approaches Ayers as just another story idea in a city of millions. But as he begins to unearth the mystery of how this alternately brilliant and distracted street musician, once a dynamic prodigy headed for fame, wound up living in tunnels and doorways, it sparks an unexpected quest.
Imagining he can change Ayers’ life, Lopez embarks on a quixotic mission to get him off the streets and back to the world of music. But even as he fights to save Ayers’ life, he begins to see that it is Ayers – with his unsinkable passion, his freedom-loving obstinacy and his valiant attempts at connection and love – who is profoundly changing Lopez.
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- Based on the true story.
- Jamie Foxx (who was already a classically trained pianist) learned to play the cello for the film.
- Most of the homeless people shown in the film are actually homeless.
- The film makers shot on “skid row” in Los Angeles, which is known for being home to one of the largest stable populations of transient persons (homeless) in the United States.
- Originally planned for a November 2008 release date, the film was held back due to Paramount’s tightening of the number of films it releases per year and released late April of 2009. The trailer continued to run in theaters with November as the release date.
- Production began in January 2008 and was filmed mostly in Los Angeles with some scenes shot in Cleveland.
It’s so seldom you find a character captured with so many nuances and have everything work so well together on the page. I thought it was amazing. It’s a story about how trying to understand someone else’s world can take you a long way in your own, and it’s really a beautiful love story.
– Jamie Foxx
From the outset, Jamie’s appetite for this role was voracious and he grabbed it to the point where he moved away from his life during filming. We rented him an apartment to play the cello and think about the next day’s scenes without interference from his normal existence. He really put himself inside this bubble and I cannot thank him enough for understanding what it was going to take.
– Gary Foster, producer
Jamie has a heart the size of country-regionplaceAmerica and a very sensitive and gentle one at that. I believe he really loves Nathaniel, which was so important.
– Joe Wright, director
Joe Wright had the beautiful insight to give the film the authentic quality of the people who live there. He took a risk and he made it work. Joe stuck to his guns and came out with his heart wide open and that opened us all up.
– Jamie Foxx