Way back in 2009, Jamie Foxx shared publicly that he intended to bring Mike Tyson’s life story to the big screen, playing the retired boxing champ in a new biopic.
The actor, who won critical acclaim for his portrayal of soul legend Ray Charles in 2004′s "Ray," admitted that he’s actually desperate to portray Tyson in a movie.
“I think I would have to play Mike Tyson. I’ve talked to Mike several times and his story is the most tragic American story… Mike’s story is about what America and the world is about today… Coming up at 18 years old and getting his $60 million and not teaching him what taxes are about, about vultures, about people who will never be real with you as long as you have the money,” Foxx said at the time, adding, “I’m working on securing the rights to the movie.”
And when asked about what director he’d like to helm the project, Foxx told MTV News later in 2009, that Taylor Hackford, who directed him in his Oscar-winning performance as Ray Charles, in 2004’s "Ray," was his first choice.
Skip ahead to 2014, to news that Mike Tyson himself has been meeting with Foxx, and the two are working together to bring the project to life. Specifically, Tyson has revealed publicly that the project is indeed in motion, and he hopes principal photography kicks off some time in 2015 or soon thereafter.
The obvious question here is: how will a 46 year old Jamie Foxx will play a Mike Tyson during his amateur and professional boxing days (from his teens to his early 20s)? They say "black don’t crack," but Jamie Foxx, while he looks great for 46, certainly cannot pass for a 15 to 25 year old, which would be the age range he’d have to play, given that these were Tyson’s active years as a boxer.
Or can he?
Here’s what Mike Tyson had to say about that potential problem: "… they have this new animation; because you know Jamie’s pretty much my age so he can’t portray me, but they have this new system."
The "new system" he’s referring is, of course, CGI – something similar to what was done to Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button;" a $150 million budgeted feature film by the way, meaning the funds were certainly there to pay for all that post-production work. Something tells me that a Mike Tyson biopic will likely attract, at most, a quarter of that number (probably even less).
Not that it couldn’t be done at a lowered cost (I assume), but, really, why go through all that trouble, when a younger actor, who doesn’t need to be CGI-ed, if you will, could be cast instead? That would make a lot more sense to me in this case. But I suppose if it’s a passion project for Jamie, and, from all available evidence, it is, who am I to discourage the possibility.
Also, another concern here would be that Tyson is a man whose mannerisms have been ridiculed to death – his voice, his physical appearance, his diction, his gait, and more. I’d certainly expect that Jamie wouldn’t aim for the caricatured version of Tyson, or divert our attention to his physical embodiment of Tyson, but will instead find some way to give us the soul that does exists within the man. Otherwise, this could be an unintentional comedy, which, I’m sure, nobody wants – least of all Jamie Foxx and Mike Tyson.
The director chosen to helm this is also key. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing someone like Michael Mann in the director’s chair. He previously directed Will Smith in "Ali," which wasn’t all that memorable (Will Smith shouldn’t have played Ali, in my opinion); but I think a film about Tyson deserves Mann’s usually restrained, yet mature, affecting touch. I would even go with Paul Greengrass as well, and instead focus on a very specific, short period in Tyson’s life, as opposed to one that covers many years. Maybe zoom into a specific fight – the lead up to it, the fight itself, and the immediate aftermath.
Spike Lee did direct Tyson’s one-man show, which continues to tour the world, so maybe Spike could also be a candidate.
But let’s wait and see if the project gets the financing it needs first.
Watch Foxx talk about the project below, in 2009, with MTV.