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Jamie Foxx vs Spanish

April 23, 2013


“Man, you know, I spoke a little bit of Spanish in ‘Collateral’, but it was all there in the script…it’s not like I know that shit.” – Jamie Foxx


Jamie Foxx stays up the whole night before the gas station scene.
He doesn’t know the actor playing the station attendant, but he heard the guy was regular Mexican. And if that’s the case then he better be on his game.
But these words in the script…they’re not flowing…
‘Shit, man, how do they speak this shit every day?’
He sits back in his trailer and tries to imagine himself entering a Mexican family’s home and talking over the breakfast table…in Spanish. But he can’t. There aren’t enough words. ‘Hola, que tal?’ is about as good as it gets.
He reads the script again, the two lines of Spanish he has to be fluent in. And he reads it again and again and again, all the way till seven in the morning, and still it’s not sticking.
On set, he waits by his fake-taxi, filling it with fake-petrol.
‘Hola, que tal? Hola que tal? Hola que tal?’ plays over and over in his head.
Michael Mann comes over and tells him to keep it casual, like he really knows what he’s saying.
They start the camera.
The first take and Foxx gets out of the taxi and waves at the attendant. ‘Hey man, what’s up?’
‘Cut,’ says Mann. ‘Spanish, Jamie.’
Foxx gets back in and out of the taxi. ‘Hola, que tal?’ A pause, a frown from Foxx, and then, ‘what’s up brother?’
‘Cut.’ Mann taps his head. ‘Think, Jamie. Think.’
Fifty-seven takes later and Foxx gets it.
He walks away with big plans. ‘I can talk to gas station attendants now,’ he tells himself. ‘Real, regular Mexicans.’
And the actor playing the gas station attendant walks away and thinks, ‘dude, I need to learn more Spanish.’

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2015 5:39 am

    I googled Jamie Foxx Spanish Collateral because I have no idea what he said. I can understand the gas station attendant fine; he said “hey I just work here man.” I have no idea what Jamie Foxx said. It was gibberish that sounded vaguely like Spanish. Does anyone know what the script said? Maybe I should look for it online.

    • August 31, 2015 2:56 am

      I don’t know, man, my Spanish starts and ends at ‘how do you feel about Simon Bolivar?’ It could be the same as Tom Cruise in Last Samurai or Keanu Reeves speaking Cantonese in the day the earth stood still…they’re just taught to say it the best they can over a few days. With Cruise it wasn’t such a huge problem cos he’s playing a foreigner learning Japanese without any proper teachers. In fact, there’s no way he should’ve been at that level, unless he was annoying the fuck out of Ken Watanabe and his son every day, asking them what does this mean, how do you say this, what’s the word for this etc, but it’s a movie and he was there all winter so…maybe.

      • October 13, 2015 10:46 pm

        Ha ha, I wondered about that in “The Last Samurai” but the whole thing is completely unrealistic, so it goes along with that.

        I googled the script, btw, and it seems the actual shooting script is nowhere online because whatever he’s supposed to have said is completely different (it has a totally different scene and actions and couldn’t be what he is supposed to have said), so I still have no idea. I speak Spanish fluently and can understand native Spanish speakers fine (though I have a bit of trouble at times with second-language speakers who have heavy accents, but usually, if I think about it, I can figure out what words they’re trying to pronounce). Maybe I shouldn’t pick on Jamie for being completely unable to pronounce Spanish, though (sounds like he didn’t have a coach, so).

        Anyway, I shouldn’t pick on him because Collateral was a really good movie (and Tom Cruise was much better in it than in The Last Samurai) and he was really good in it too. It was just that one scene which is jarring. It’s always weird when a character is supposed to be fluent in a language they clearly can’t speak (or, in this case, pronounce even the slightest bit intelligibly).

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