Over a few months he lost the equivalent weight of a microwave oven or a chubby toddler, but don’t expect Jamie Foxx to bring out a dieting guide any time soon.
It’s not that he doesn’t have wisdom to impart on getting into shape, it’s just that his way of expressing the secrets of his success is rather unconventional.
“I didn’t really diet, I just cut all that shit out,” the 49-year-old actor tells AFP, recalling the moment it dawned on him that he could no longer gorge on fast food and just run it off.
His latest movie “Sleepless,” a claustrophobic, taut police procedural which takes place over one night, sees Foxx playing a Las Vegas detective with ties to the underworld who scours a casino in search of his kidnapped son.
The role would require the actor and his 40-year-old co-star Michelle Monaghan (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Patriots Day”) to run, jump, fight and generally be in the shape of their lives.
At the time Foxx was tipping the scales at 216 pounds (98 kilograms) in July last year, with cholesterol levels that would make a polar bear blanch, but managed to get down to 183.
“I ate chicken, fish and vegetables,” he tells AFP at a plush hotel in Beverly Hills, where he is promoting the crime thriller.
“Within two weeks I lost eight pounds and I started working out with my trainer and before you know it I was at 198 within two or three, four weeks and then just steady, steady, steady.”
– Classically trained –
All the training in the world, however, could not have helped Foxx avoid a full-on punch to the teeth delivered by Monaghan during a fight scene in a casino hotel room.
“I didn’t knock them out, but I did chip them,” Monaghan confesses to AFP at the same promotion event.
“We were in the heat of the moment and I don’t know if the adrenaline got the best of me but I hit him just square in the teeth and I chipped them. He took it and he honestly said ‘keep going.'”
Foxx has been one of the most sought-after actors in the business since bagging an Oscar in 2005 for his portrayal of blind American musician Ray Charles in Taylor Hackford’s biopic “Ray.”
A classically trained pianist, Foxx jammed with Charles before the artist’s death in June 2004 at the age of 73.
Born Eric Marlon Bishop on December 13, 1967 in Terrell, Texas, Foxx was encouraged by his grandmother, who raised him, to start tinkling the ivories at a young age.
He studied piano at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s to become a musician, but was quickly sidetracked by comedy.
– ‘Seven years’ grace’ –
Soon a fixture on the stand-up circuit, he landed a job in the sketch show “In Living Color” in the 1990s, before being given his own sitcom, the “The Jamie Foxx Show.”
He won secondary roles in a number of comedy movies but his first dramatic role was as a football player in Oliver Stone’s 1999 drama “Any Given Sunday,” opposite Al Pacino.
In “Sleepless,” Foxx’s character Vincent struggles to balance the rigorous requirements of the day job with making the time to see his son — a dilemma which any hard-working actor with a family must confront.
“Oliver Stone gave me advice when we were shooting and my kid was young,” the father of two daughters — one seven, the other now grown up — tells AFP.
“He said ‘bring your kids everywhere with you, bring them to the set.'”
Foxx took the advice, and brought along his youngest, Annalise, when he was filming Quentin Tarantino’s gory western “Django Unchained.”
“And that’s what you’ve got to do,” he laughs. “Once your kids have an explanation of what it is you do, then you’re pretty much cool.”