GQ UK : “You get the f*** out of my house!” Jamie Foxx yells in a shrill voice, not a moment after GQ has sat down in London’s Soho Hotel. Thankfully, we haven’t done anything wrong; he’s just admiring Michael Douglas on the cover of our new Men Of The Year issue. “You remember that movie?” Foxx asks his White House Down co-star Channing Tatum, who is sat on the other end of the sofa wearing a chambray shirt, jeans and an expression that suggests this happens a lot. “The last movie he did?” “No, the movie! The one with the crazy lady. Fatal Attraction!” says Foxx, clad in a T-shirt, jeans and Jordans, before putting on his best Eighties Glenn Close voice. “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan!”
It’s the kind of chemistry that elevates White House Down, directed by Independence Day’s Roland Emmerich and often described as Die Hard in the West Wing – Foxx plays the President, Tatum his impromptu bodyguard – from your average summer blockbuster. It’s the same that means off-set shenanigans like the off-beat music video “Channing All Over Your Tatum” feel so genuine. As Foxx flicked through his new copy of the magazine, we talked to the pair about politics, performing for Presidents and advice for new fathers.
GQ: Jamie, I know you’re a big supporter of President Obama, but Channing where do you fall politically?
Tatum: You know what? I’m not political. I just want America to do well, I want the world to do well. I want everyone to stop fighting. I think it’s really, really hard right now – especially for the President. You’ve got a lot of fates and people’s lives at stake, and to take care of everybody is almost impossible. I just think everybody’s pointing fingers: it’s either red or blue, black or white. “I’m Christian. I’m Baptist. I’m Catholic. I’m Mormon.” All this stuff gets in the way. We’re all trying to live in one country.
Foxx: I’m Sagittarius, actually.
Tatum: Right! [laughs] I’m Taurus.
Jamie, you’ve met President Obama before. Do you empathise with him more now, having played the President?
Foxx: I mean me playing the President on screen is nothing I’m sure compared to what he’s dealing with in the White House. But I did take things from Obama. We made my character a little more nerdy, a little more cerebral, and stuff like that in order to have the contrast of the two characters. But I wouldn’t want his job.
I read that you performed for him at the White House once. Do you remember what you sang?
Foxx: Oh yeah. We did the Motown Review. Myself, Seal, the Jonas brothers. I got a chance to tell jokes in front of him and Vice President Biden. The secret service asks you to write down all your jokes, you know, but I wrote down fake jokes. “You know, a funny thing happened to me on the way here.” Stuff like that… [laughs]
Tatum: Do you think that the Secret Service was like “that son of a bitch…”
Foxx: They were like, “He’s not saying the right jokes!”
Tatum: [Into his sleeve] “Take him out! Take him out!”
Foxx: I said that! As I’m telling my jokes, I’m like “Look at your Secret Service – these are not the jokes I told them.”
Tatum: [Laughing] Did you? Oh shit I want to see that!
Foxx: Yeah! But I performed for Colin Powell, I’ve performed for President Bush… I’ve performed for a lot of Presidents. And it’s interesting; they’re one way when they’re telling speeches, and they’re human beings when [they are] not. It doesn’t matter Republican or Democrat – we all just want America to be that place that everyone looks at to say, you know, freedom is a natural resource.
What’s your best style advice?
Foxx: You know what? The style now is not to look like you’re trying to style. What we deal with a lot in our business right now is how do we have a stylist that makes us look normal? Then it’s about a certain accent, meaning the certain type of shoe that you have on, a certain accessory: the belt, the tie, the glasses. Something regular fit, nice cut on it, but then the glasses, the shoes, the watch is accenting it and brings it all together. Then with a tuxedo, keep it classic. You know sometimes they’ll attach a balloon to you or something like that, a pin-wheel – [but] you just want a classic tuxedo. Because you know, with style, when you look back on what you looked like 20 years ago, you want to be able to say, “I look OK.” Like, there’s a picture in here [the new issue of GQ] of Steve McQueen, and he’s just in a white T. That’s it.
Tatum: I think there’s a decision to make in style: are you art or are you just wearing something that is accenting you? “Is the suit wearing him, or is he wearing the suit?” Like Lady Gaga, she was art, but I kind of lost her in all the stuff that she was doing. I like it when she’s dressed kind of normal – she’s a beautiful girl – but I appreciated her statement of “This is how I feel on the inside, so I’m going to go nuts.” I like vintage stuff. I go through a vintage store and find things that I feel like I fit right into them because of all the years that they’ve been used.
Channing, you’ve recently become a father and Jamie you’ve been a father for a long time now. What’s your best piece of fatherhood advice?
Foxx: I think if you’re being a father, there’s a couple of things. When that child is born, that child is going to be a certain way. You’re going to guide it and steer it a certain way, but he or she has his or her own path. I think the best thing to try to do is allow your daughter or your son to know that they can come to you for anything. If you can break down that wall so they don’t feel embarrassed by telling you things, that’s half the battle.
Tatum: My daughter is three months old, so I can change her diaper without her crying now, and that feels good. But like he said, being a friend and a father is what I’m hoping to be as she gets older. And really, I’m looking forward to just being a kid again, and just playing, because I’ve had my journey of trying to figure out being a grown-up or a man is.