Jamie Foxx may play a funnyman on the run in this weekend’s action comedy ”Bait,” but he plans a weightier role for his next big screen performance. Foxx, who wowed critics with his turn as flashy quarterback Willie Beamen in last year’s ”Any Given Sunday,” will reteam with director Oliver Stone for another showcase of his acting chops: a third remake of ”A Star Is Born.”
Warner Bros. — which produced the last two ”Star” editions — originally developed the project for director Carl Franklin (”One True Thing”) and Will Smith, who passed in favor of the upcoming Muhammad Ali biopic. But Foxx tells EW.com he and Stone took over after ”Sunday” proved the two had rapport. ”Oliver mirrored the coach in ‘Any Given Sunday.’ Me being a young African American actor who really hadn’t had a chance to get down before, I was willing to do whatever to learn from him,” Foxx says. ”I came out whipped into shape — and with a great relationship. He taught me a lot about never settling, and that’s why I’m ready to get down again.”
Before Foxx and Stone become the next De Niro and Scorsese, however, they must help secure a leading lady for the oft remade showbiz romance, which follows a famous leading man as he discovers and marries a rising songstress — only to find that her fame eclipses his own. Right now, the new ”Star” has a finished script, which ”Get on the Bus” scribe Reggie Rock Bythewood polished with Foxx’s input. But until a female star signs on, the project won’t even start preproduction.
Though this would be the first ”Star” to cast African American leads, the plot remains essentially the same as before. ”It would move a little faster, have more things that appeal to a younger audience,” Foxx says. ”But you can’t lose, because it’s a great story.” One ingredient that will change with the times is the heroine’s musical style. (Judy Garland sang torchy ballads to James Mason in the 1954 version, while Barbara Streisand belted out disco tinged pop to Kris Kristofferson in 1976.) ”We need someone who can rock on screen and make the soundtrack hot,” Foxx explains. ”Sixteen songs, and they have to be hits.” So it’s no surprise that for the ingenue role, Warner has pursued none other than Lauryn Hill.
But there’s a problem, Foxx says: ”Nobody can get in touch with Lauryn.” The actor even resorted to tracking her moves earlier this year. ”She thinks I’m a stalker,” he deadpans. ”I was trying to get her interested in the thing, so I was going to her concerts. I saw her in Vegas. I saw her in Irvine, and after a while she was like, ‘You know, you’re making me nervous.”’ But the multiplatinum artist, whose reps didn’t return EW.com’s calls, didn’t commit. Not that Foxx should feel rebuffed. Hill has a history of passing on high profile pictures, including ”Charlie’s Angels,” an upcoming Bob Marley biopic, and the shelved Joel Schumacher produced ”Dreamgirls” project. ”Maybe if she comes out of incubation, it could work. I guess she’s busy with her children.”
Foxx is now hoping to land a different photogenic chart topper. Since ”Romeo Must Die” became a $55 million hit for Warner this past June, both the studio and the comic have turned to sultry R&B hit maker Aaliyah. ”She’s very, very talented. After ‘Romeo,’ everyone’s very impressed,” Foxx says. ”She’s sexy. She can sing. She can act. Right now I’d say she’s my number one choice.”
And what does Aaliyah, who’s currently in Australia shooting the ”Interview With a Vampire” sequel ”Queen of the Damned,” have to say? In a statement issued to EW.com, she says she’s busy until ”Damned” wraps this December, but would love to talk to Foxx: ”I am aware of the project. I know Jamie and think he’s a very funny and talented guy. I’d love to do a film with him, but I haven’t seen the script yet. If and when he approaches me with a movie role, I’ll certainly look at it very carefully.” See Jamie, if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.