Sleepless, in theaters January 13, 2017, tells the story of Vincent Downes (Jamie Foxx), an undercover Las Vegas police officer who gets wrapped up in some bad business when a mobster kidnaps his son after a heist gone wrong. Downes must try and save his son while dodging an Internal Affairs officer (Michelle Monaghan) who thinks he’s corrupt.
Screen Rant spoke with Monaghan and Foxx at the press day for Sleepless, where they talked about Monaghan chipping Foxx’s tooth in their big fight scene. Foxx also talks about his involvement in the planned biopic of boxer Mike Tyson, to be directed by Martin Scorsese, as well as the incredible story of how he first met Tyson as an up-and-coming comedian.
I love action films, especially modern day action films like Taken, Collateral is one of my favorites. What drew you guys to [the roles] of Downes and Bryant?
Michelle Monaghan: I mean, I love action films too, but I was really drawn to the character, because this is a characters that not oftentimes I get the opportunity to play. Someone who’s very tough and determined and capable, and physical. And so, when I read that great action scene, cause it read so quickly—the script—and then it culminated in that, I was like, “Yes!” And she was still so tough as nails all the way through that. I thought, “Okay, yes, this is what I want to do, and I want to do it with this guy [points at Jamie Foxx].” So without a doubt, it was right up my alley.
What about you Jamie, same?
Jamie Foxx: Same thing. Like, when you’re working in this business and you get the chance to work with people that are real cool, you respect…like Michelle, is great. We get a chance to do this tango, and then that fight scene was so much fun, you know, pulling that off was great. And so, that’s what you do, man, and then you get it out there and tell people, “Go check it out.”
And how much—you just talked about the fight scene—how much choreography actually went into that? Because you have a great scene [Jamie], my favorite scene, in the kitchen, too.
Jamie Foxx: It was a lot! And you know, we didn’t have a lot of time, at certain points.
Michelle Monaghan: No.
Jamie Foxx: Yeah. Because things were sort of running together. So when we got a chance to do our thing together. And so when we got a chance to do our thing, and Michelle can really, she can really swing.
Michelle Monaghan: [laughs] I just—
Jamie Foxx: She hit me in the mouth, bro.
Michelle Monaghan: I did.
Jamie Foxx: And the cameras, they were running, but it wasn’t time for me—I didn’t get a chance to move my head.
Michelle Monaghan: I wish I could get ahold of that footage, because I really—I hit him in the mouth, and I chipped his tooth. And he was like, “Keep going.”
You chipped his tooth?
Jamie Foxx: Yeah, but you know it wasn’t my tooth, it was the porcelain that’s over my tooth. So it’s like, you know, you taste that little chalky thing, I’m like “Oh yeah, something is not attached!”
Michelle Monaghan: And he just told me to keep going. That’s a good dude.
What a trooper.
Michelle Monaghan: Total trooper.
Jamie Foxx: But she can really swing ‘em.
Speaking of getting punched, one of the most polarizing lives of the past thirty years has been Mike Tyson. I know you were attached [to a biopic of Tyson], what’s the update on that?
Jamie Foxx: That is a go.
It’s a go? Martin Scorsese’s still attached?
Jamie Foxx: Yeah, he’s attached, and it’s—Mike Tyson’s life is one of the most amazing American stories.
I completely agree.
Jamie Foxx: And to be—you gotta understand the personal attachment. I’m twenty-one years old, I’m in California, I’m on stage at this place called the Comedy Act Theater. I’m doing my jokes, just got to LA, doing my thing. I’m killin’, I’m killin’; I get to my Mike Tyson joke, where I do an impersonation of Mike Tyson. It is complete silence. Why? Because Mike Tyson is in the audience.
Michelle Monaghan: Oh, no!
Jamie Foxx: And the guy next to him, his name is Rodney Mason, says, “Yo, Mike is in here!” And everybody went, “Oh!” And this is when Mike was knockin’ people out for just breathing wrong, right? And there’s a black girl in front going, “What you gonna do, Jamie? You gonna do your little jokes about Mike? He right there, what you gonna—” I’m like, “Yo, chill!”
Michelle Monaghan: Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.
Jamie Foxx: And the guy Rodney says, “Mike says do the joke! And that s— better be funny.” So I do the joke, [Mike Tyson voice] “I’m Mike Tyson,” [end voice] do the joke, I think it was me as Mike Tyson going through Kentucky Fried Chicken drive-thru, ordering, [Mike Tyson voice] “Can I get slaw? Chicken and biscuits and slaw?” [end voice] Whatever it was. It gets a standing ovation, Mike Tyson comes up to me, says, [Mike Tyson voice] “There he is! You funny, come here.” [end voice] And I started hanging out with Mike Tyson at twenty-one years old.
So I watched his life from that vantage point. I watched his life go [up and down]. Then, I’m sitting with Mike Tyson when we go to pitch the idea, and the difference of Mike Tyson at that time was, when I called him to ask how’s he doing—voice changed, different demeanor, and this is what we wanna capture in the movie. “Mike, how you feelin’?” “All praise to Allah, my brother, I’m happy, how are you?” I said, “I’m great man, how are you?” “I’m just happy.” I said, “Why are you happy?” “Cause I don’t have any money no more.” I said, “What?” “I don’t have any money anymore.” I said, “Why are you happy about that?” “It’s cause nobody takes anything from me now. I’m clean, I’m free, no more vultures, no more people in my life trying to take anything. All praise to Allah, my brother, I’m happy.”
That person is what we want to capture on the screen; the nuance of him. The person who not only lost money, lost his child, but gained this sort of respect now, that when we see him he’s almost like a[n] elder statesmen in a sense. So it’s still in the works, but that’s gonna something that we really take our time and walk it down.
Michelle Monaghan: Wow.
That’s amazing. I can’t wait for it. Thank you guys so much.