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RAY’S THE MAN JAMIE FOXX, the star of the new biopic RAY, talks about his hero Ray Charles, drugs and why Hollywood is getting better for black actors.

‘Ray Charles is there in the heart of every musician. Aretha Franklin, listen to Aretha, and you can see Ray’s influence. He was very instrumental and you have to have it loaded into your system. Ray Charles’ story is so compelling because you look at what he is going through in his life and all the different obstacles, all the different relationships going on and then all of a sudden the music you grew up with, the music you can remember dancing to with a special girl and that’s when everybody in the movie theatre goes, “oh yeah” and you feel the hairs rise on the back of your neck. When we screened it for the National Black Caucus in DC they were dancing in the aisles goin’ “Ray!”

‘Everybody did drugs back then. You have to understand that heroin at that time was the drug of choice for musicians. Look at Charlie Parker, look at all those guys and girls at that time, heroin was chic, it was. It also opened you up as a musician. That’s why it always goes hand in hand. You see rock’n’roll artists you see drugs, you see jazz artists, maybe different drugs, but it was that state of mind. And if you saw Charlie Parker wild out on the saxophone and you were a young sax player you would be thinking, “maybe if I go there". That was the mentality of it. I remember talking to Tom Cruise and he says, “It’s just so sad that Miles did the drugs . . .” and I said, “I know but at the same time so much great music came out of it." Now with Ray Charles it was a different thing. He was able to pull out of it in the 605 and that was tough, man, that was tough for him but he did it. And he was one of the few because a lot of them just didn’t.

‘It’s getting better for black actors in Hollywood. Back in the day there used to be room for just one, so in the 70s it was Richard Pryor, in the 805 it was Eddie Murphy but in the 905 it started to open up - Will Smith, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, all these different people that have come along and made it better for each other and the success also helps. The success of Will Smith is in the stratosphere man and he opens movies, you know, and he legitimately has made it better for all of us, he is the pioneer.’

I Pay IS on general ,re/ease from F"! 27 Jan. See page 48.

"L'Abben 49 (12A)115min O.