Electric company

TRUE BLUE FAN: Foxx's latest hit role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is as Max Dillon, an electrical engineer obsessed with Spider-Man, but a freak accident turns him into the villain Electro, with the power to control electricity.


    Apr 10, 2014

    Electric company

    CONFESSION time: I have never liked Jamie Foxx.

    Perhaps I just couldn't shake off the loud, brassy and flamboyant persona he cultivated since his early days as a stand-up comedian, and on The Jamie Foxx Show.

    So I was pleasantly surprised at the soft-spoken gentleman sitting before me at Fuse Bar in Marina Bay Sands.

    The 46-year-old was in town last month to promote The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and also to take part in Earth Hour, a conservation awareness event.

    In the movie, which opens here on May 1, we get to see him in two different roles. Initially, he is Max Dillon, an electrical engineer with bad hair at Oscorp Industries, who idolises Spider-Man.

    A freak accident turns him into Electro, an angry, crazy, blue-coloured baddie with the power to control electricity.

    Foxx explained that Max became obsessed with Spider-Man after the web-slinger helped him out of trouble. But when he felt betrayed by Spidey, an "uncontrollable rage came out".

    Being obsessed with something or someone is "quite common in real life", Foxx said, adding that he found inspiration from "over-zealous fans who are on the borderline of insanity", much like Electro.

    And judging by his recent work, it is no wonder that Foxx has his fair share of fans.

    Born Eric Marlon Bishop, he started out as a stand-up comic and took on his stage name. Foxx began taking on more serious roles only in 2004, when he played legendary blues musician Ray Charles in the biopic Ray.

    It paid off handsomely, winning him an Oscar for Best Actor. Hollywood sat up and took notice, and the reluctant-hero roles started pouring in, including Jarhead (2005) and The Kingdom (2007).

    "(US actress) Ellen Barkin once said to me that after winning my Oscar I have a window period of seven years to do something special and not chase after money with crazy, goofy stuff," Foxx said.

    "Luckily, I was able to explore music and I had quite a bit of success there, so that sort of elongated my career," he said. His album Unpredictable - riding on Ray's success - became a hit in 2005. His collaboration with US rapper Kanye West on Gold Digger also gave him his first Grammy for best rap solo performance.

    Foxx also won another Grammy in 2010 for best R&B performance with the song Blame It, featuring rapper T-Pain.

    And that piece of advice from Barkin stayed with him. "Around the seventh, eighth year, Django Unchained happened," Foxx said, adding that the Western movie changed his career.

    Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the 2012 movie saw Foxx as the titular slave determined to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

    Made on a budget of US$100 million (S$126 million), Django Unchained went on to gross over US$425 million worldwide. "Django made things easier to acquire, like Spider-Man. It allows me to keep my commercial success intact but still pursue things that have gravitas."

    He added with a laugh: "Thanks to Django and Spider-Man, I can now suck for seven more years!"