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Ray - Preview

Preview by: Jack Foley

FRESH from his critical success alongside Tom Cruise in Michael Mann's Collateral, Jamie Foxx steps into the shows of Ray Charles for his next must-see project.

Ray is a $30 million, never-before-told, musical biographical drama of American legend, Ray Charles, who is often credited with the musician most responsible for developing soul music.

Born in a poor town, in Georgia, Ray Charles went blind at the age of seven, shortly after witnessing his younger brother's accidental death.

Yet, inspired by a fiercely independent mother, who insisted he make his own way in the world, Charles found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard.

Touring across the Southern musical circuit, the soulful singer gained a reputation and then exploded with worldwide fame when he pioneered incorporating gospel, country, jazz and orchestral influences into his inimitable style.

As he revolutionized the way people appreciated music, he simultaneously fought segregation in the very clubs that launched him and championed artists' rights within the corporate music business.

Ray is designed to provide an unflinching portrait of Charles' musical genius as he overcomes drug addiction while transforming into one of this country's most beloved performers - and could even earn Foxx an Oscar shot.

The film is directed by Taylor Hackford (Proof of Life), and co-stars Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell and Regina King, among others, and is being released in the US on October 29, to head up the Oscar season.

Its trailer looks terrific, while the finished product even got the seal of approval from Charles, before his death, from liver disease, in June 2004.

As Hackford, who has wanted to make the film for 15 years, recalls, 'Jamie was tested by fire by Ray, I'll tell you that'.

Having befriended the legendary singer, Hackford persuaded him to meet Foxx, who had worked tirelessly to recapture the spirit and talent of the soul legend.

Foxx listed to countless performances and interviews and even wore eye prosthetics that rendered him blind during shooting, but even he missed a few notes during his first meeting with Charles.

Come the finish of their time together, however, Hackford delightedly declared: "[Charles said] that's it, the kid's got it!"

Audiences will be able to judge for themselves shortly.

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