George Foreman Biopic
George (Tillman Jr), this isn’t the first time that you’ve made a biopic, but the difference here between this and your previous one (Notorious) is that fortunately, George is still with us. How did the process differ this time around?
George Tillman: I think what made it really different was that George was right here. He’s still here living and was very much a part of what we were trying to accomplish with the film. The one thing he trusted me with, is he allowed me to tell the story that I wanted to tell. The best thing about it was, even though he only showed up to set one time, his availability was amazing. I had two phone numbers for him; “George Foreman one” and “George Foreman two” and I would just text questions to either phone. Whichever was the last phone he texted me at that’s the one I text next. So it was amazing. I would say “I want a picture of how were you dressed” “How were you feeling in this moment with Ali?” or “How did you feel when you lost everything and you wanted to go back to boxing?” Those are the things that usually when someone passed away, you have friends telling you those stories or you got books or documentaries, it’s great to have the real subject right next to you.
Khris, how do you find it different playing a real person to a fictional character? Is it easier because you had George’s real-time feedback to lean on?
Khris Davis: I think what’s similar is the fact that, even when you’re telling a story about someone who is fictional, you’re still telling a story about someone. Someone can identify and relate to that character that you’re playing. Whether it’s characteristics or mannerisms that’s what makes acting and what we see on film or on stage so intriguing. Actors can sometimes find those common threads in our humanity, so those things remain the same.
What is different, obviously, is the fact that not only is this about a person who has lived, but someone who is still with us and has a giant legacy. He’s global! He’s not specific to just America, he’s global! So there was some pressure initially, to consider the responsibility that comes with that. As I have a theatre background, I understand the importance of keeping the work pure, so I approached it that way. When it came down to his nuances, I watched tons of films on him, read his autobiographies and I went down to meet him for a few days in Houston because I wanted to get some of the more subtle nuances that I could incorporate into the information that I already had. He did give me some information, but I didn’t lean on him tremendously because I had to trust myself in that process too.
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