According to the internet rumor mill, which I can only assume has been smoking massive amounts of crack today, Jamie Foxx is currently the favorite to win the role of Frank Sinatra in the new biopic from Martin Scorsese. If he wins the role, this will be his second time taking to the screen as a famous musican, third if you count “The Soloist.” His last big musical role was as Ray Charles for which he won a Best Actor Oscar.
When asked about the role, one source allegedly said: “Cool is colour-blind. Jamie would seem to be born to the role.”
He’s not the only one up for the role, but he would definitely be the most daring choice for it. Other actors hoping to take the part include: George Clooney, Justin Timberlake, Harry Connick Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio.
There have been other examples of people playing other races in movies, but this would probably be the biggest role to date. Would Foxx play in “white face” or would this be more of a metaphorical representation of the role? From Al Jolson to Robert Downey Jr, famous white actors have taken to the screen in black face. For Jolson, it was actually the very first film with synchronized sound, and for Downey Jr., it was last summer’s big hit, “Tropic of Thunder.”
In the past, black face was considered to be degrading to the black community. Often used in Minstrel shows, actors in black face would generally portray the worst stereotypes about black people to get laughs from the crowd. It is now generally only used as a device for social satire, like in Tropic of Thunder where Robert Downey Jr., played an Australian White man who was playing the role of an American Black Soldier.
With the roles reversed, how will the public react?
For a little bit of historical context, here’s a clip of Al Jolson in Black face singing Mammy and an interview with Robert Downey Jr., on his role in “Tropic Thunder.”