Jamie Foxx vs Spanish
“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.’