The Source Magazine sat down with Jamie to discuss bringing this electrifying villain to life. Read an exclusive interview below:
How excited were you when you found out you were cast as Electro?
Jamie: Crazy, my homies were like, “What? You’re gonna be Electro?” and my little daughter who was like four dressed as Spider-Man all the time, Spider-Man pajamas, Spider-Man tennis shoes, she was overjoyed that she got a chance to come on set and meet Andrew. She was smitten and he was cool, she’d be dressed as Spider-Man, I’d be dressed as Electro and we’re on set. And my thing was just to have fun. And now even more fun going and promoting it. We’ve been to Beijing, Tokyo, Malaysia, Singapore, Rome, Paris, Germany. I mean it’s just great.
Presuming you’ve been asked to be part of other franchises, what made you choose this one and not others?
Jamie: The time when I was asked, it was the wrong time cause, it was about “Luke Cage” and I didn’t have the visibility. For this it was Quenton Tarantino and “Django.” “Django” allowed me to go international. When I go now to Rome or Germany or any of those places people are like so into “Django” that it only made sense that within the same Sony family to now become part of “Spider-Man.” It was the right time. A lot of times in our business it’s the right visibility or the right space that you’re in.
You made Electro a total bad ass.
Jamie: In doing movies like this, first of all you’ve got to respect the fans and what they want, but you also know you’re doing a movie and you’re going to be introducing people who may not have followed the comic book. So you gotta push it forward. Just like when I look at Dane and what he brings to Harry Osborn, that sort of cool, fly, young, sex symbol … but, there’s something going on with him and Andrew that when I talk to my daughters’ friends, we dig them because we feel like they’re talking to us, this is our time. And he’ll speak more about that, as well, but you have to move the needle I think with these movies forward. If you go backwards, you got to take those chances, in other words to take it in a different direction.
Can you speak about suiting up as Electro and what that process was like? Because it’s an interesting costume.
Jamie: Imagine blue candle wax and you just dip me in the candle wax for four hours and now I just got this whole silicone whole blue screen and then the CGI guys just sort of dial in everything that you see on the screen.
What was it like working with director Marc Webb?
Jamie: You know what? He’s got a kid in him too, as well. He’s so excited about it and he pushed, he wasn’t just like, “Oh just do your own thing and I’ll just put the camera on you.” He was like, “No, let’s really get down to getting Max where he needed to be” and everything like that. And I really appreciate that because he’s a musical guy, too. He was thinking about the music, and thinking about Pharrell and Hans and bringing all these great people together. It’s just cool when you have somebody that’s enthusiastic about it.
Can you speak about your initial conversations with Marc?
Jamie: When you’re at a read through as actors, you’re sort of seeing who got what. You’re seeing how many gears they got. Can they go, you know? When he (Dane) was at the read through I saw something really special. Once he was on the set tooling around, trying to figure out where the character was, I can’t remember how it came up … a suggestion … I said, ‘Let him go back to doing that hot shit he was doing at the table.’ When he got into that, it was like the whole set lifted up. Everyone was like ‘Okay, now how does my character go back and forth.’ It’s always good to see you set up things and then find some things along the way. I always come with a bible of stuff like ‘Okay, you do this and do this’ and eventually none of it’s in there but, you always come with things to see where you can go.
Was there ever a conversation about you doing music for the film?
Jamie: We may have something on the soundtrack. We’re still trying to see if they want this one song called “Chasing the Spiders”. But yeah I’m always into the music though, either way.
Can you speak about your character’s emotional journey?
Jamie: Well the thing is that in the comic book Max Dillon is in his forties, his mom dotes over him, his wife left him, father didn’t raise him, he was an electrical engineering genius, so that’s him in the comic book, so I wanted to bring a lot of that into the actual story. So when you see Max – the black man with a comb over and bald and he’s sort of like goofing around, but I wanted people to understand that he’s a broken man and when he meets Spider-Man he sort of goes off. I think Max is important even when he’s in the elevator with Emma’s character with Gwen Stacy. You sort of see how shy he is and things like that, so that when he does turn into Electro, he still has that in his mind that “People will never notice me, now I need to be noticed.” And that’s an emotion that everyone can recognize. You’ve always seen someone who wants it so bad that they screw it up. And that’s what Max did, he wanted it so bad that he just screwed it up.
For your character, he’s such an outsider, what inspired your interpretation of Max Dillon?
Jamie: Well, there was a guy that I grew up with, he was about eight years older than me, that I would watch in the neighborhood. He walked with a military jacket on. Just always walking, really quiet, to himself … And he was very smart. And at that time, we didn’t really understand IQ’s … He lived with his mom and his mom eventually passed away. He got so depressed about that and then eventually he passed away. It was definitely him … Max’s character in the comic book whose wife left him, father left, he lives with his mom, and he’s just sort of broken. So I wanted to bring that to life and at the same time, have a comical thing to it. Be the first black man with a comb over. Being on the streets of New York, black girls were walking by like ‘Oh my God, Jamie Foxx what’s wrong with you?’ ‘What is wrong with his hair’ ‘Oh, he’s fallen of since Django.’
For me doing a character like this sometimes you get fame fatigue like when you see a person too much. I do a joke in my act all the time called ‘This Motherf–ker’ and that’s when you finally see a person … you see him too much. So when I walk into the place they be like ‘Jamie Foxx, this motherf–ker, he’s everywhere.’ If you get a chance to disappear like in Max it works … and then in Electro, you disappear and so there’s always two things going on – How can I nail the character and at the same time disappear?
What was it like doing the fight sequences with Andrew Garfield?
Jamie: It was great, and a lot of it was CGI. A lot of it was us sitting back and doing facial expressions or saying things and watching the CGI guys put it together, which was super cool.
What do you think attracts people to comic book villains?
Jamie: What’s great about the “Spider-Man/; franchise is that these guys don’t start off evil, they don’t start off angry and if you think about it, we’ve only been villains for that long, just came into whatever this is, so we don’t really quite know and hopefully, if they do do “Sinister 6″ and everything, we will eventually really own that anger and own that villain, but in this, what’s great about it is that you see the tale of three people that all start off in the same place. All three of those – Peter Parker, Harry, and Max – something’s wrong … now they’ve been blessed with incredible powers … And not everybody responds to power and talent the same way. We look at it every day. They’re some people that are going to rise to the top of a political whatever or a huge organization, or even when you look at the guy with the Clippers. It’s like they all start out the same way. I’m paraphrasing but you check the measure of a man once you give him power, which I think Abe Lincoln said. So because of the way we’re designed, we’re all going to respond differently and that’s what were doing, we’re all responding differently to these superpowers that we’ve been given. And everybody can’t be the same, you can’t have absolute sunshine without having absolute darkness.
What do you think would be on Electro’s soundtrack?
Jamie: Dubstep. Skrillex. That’s Electro, it’s all driving. He would be listening to Busta Rhymes, and Eminem and DMX. He’d be on that tip.
Were there any physical challenges to bringing Electro to life?
Jamie: Just saying in shape, I had to be a certain weight to get into that suit. But that was pretty much it. And just maintain focus on who Electro was and things. But not a lot of physical twists and turns because like I said a lot of the stunt guys were amazing.
Can you tell us about the highlight of filming in New York?
Jamie: New York is amazing. It has it’s own vibe to it. It’s not gonna move one way or the other for anybody, but once you grab it and get in it, it’s really dope. But what I really like about New York are the brunches. That breaks out. Like Lavo … I went to Bagatelle … But I think that’s what’s dope about New Yorkers … when the sun comes out, they just go crazy.
Was there a favorite moment after watching the film?
Jamie: I really like the Max parts. Like when he was doing “Out of all the people, who could have been in my apartment, Spider-Man is here.” “Of course. We’re best friends and that’s what friends do” … So I really like how Max starts it out.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album?
Jamie: Pharrell we got a song together called “Tease.”
“Excuse the hell outta me. I’m not tryin’ use you.” (Singing)
Me and Pharrell on that. DJ Mustard we got one called “All night, all night and I’m a give it to you all night and I’m gon give to you, hashtag better bring that ass back, what? Hashtag better bring that ass back. Now twerk it.” (Singing)
Breyon Prescott who is my music guy is just finding all this great music from these young guys. I’m really happy about the direction that we’re going
Do you have a time frame on your album?
Jamie: No time frame right now, but just getting it. I got a call in to Sting, and I’m waiting to hear back from him, because I was listening to one of his songs and wanted to redo the hook (singing) “I’ll be wrapped around your finger … cause in my bed your perfume still lingers.” But I would love for us to do it together. That would be great.
You’re a renaissance man, you’ve done comedy, you’ve done action, you’ve done drama, can you tell us what you love about each of those mediums?
Jamie: I think what you do is if you’re gonna do any of those dramas or actions, you be with the greatest director that does that so you can be in the right light. If it comes down to music, you get people like Breyon Prescott, you get people like Timbaland, you get people like Pharrell, you get people like Polow Da Don, you get people like Drake to sort of protect you, give you what the real sounds are. Like right now DJ Mustard what he’s doing, Mike Will and all these guys, Rock City. Those guys really know how to do it, and then that way what you want to do is anytime you step into any of those arenas, you want to be your best at it, and the only way to be the best at it is to allow your ego fall off and let people tell you and show you what it is and you enhance it.
After all of the roles you have played what would you like to do next?
Jamie: Well, you know what? I have a wish list. I want to do the Mike Tyson story. When I talk to Mike, who is a friend of mine and I say ‘Mike how you feeling?’ He says, ‘I’m great. How are you doing all praises to allah my brother.’ I say, ‘Why you so great?’ He says, ‘Because I don’t have any money anymore … No one wants anything from me now. When I had money, everyone always wanted something from me, I’m happy Jamie, I’m so sublime right now.’ I was like ‘Wow.’
So he would tell me great stories. Then he would tell me the heartbreak of every great story. So I think that would be great. When it comes to superheroes, I’ve always liked “Spawn.” I always thought that that would be something really fantastic. He’s lucky (Dane) because everything is open. When you’ve been in it 25 years you gotta pick the right [projects]. You can’t go backwards, you can’t do the same thing.
What can fans expect from the highly anticipated “Annie”?
Jamie: Quvenzhané Wallis, wow! Such a champion. She’s gonna bring so much heart to Annie. And to see her work. And to make it a movie with a musical as opposed to just a musical. It’s a movie that has music. And Cameron Diaz, she’s hilarious. We could not stop laughing on the shoot, so I’m excited for people to see it.