The making of compelling new drama Just Mercy was a highly personal experience for Jamie Foxx. The Oscar winner phoned into On Air with Ryan Seacrest on Wednesday, January 8, and shared his own father’s jailing helped inspire his role portraying Walter McMillian, a man who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the 1980s.
“I commend Michael B. Jordan for taking this movie … and introducing us to Bryan Stevenson who was actually the lawyer at the time in 1986 who took this incredible impossible case,” Foxx shared with Seacrest on-air, explaining the film which shows the true story of McMillian and his lawyer Stevenson. McMillian was a pulpwood worker from Monroeville, Alabama, who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Stevenson helped exonerate McMillian and still works to help others wrongfully convicted to this day.
Foxx shared with Seacrest that he channeled his own childhood and father to tap into the film.
“… A lot of people don’t know this,” Foxx said. “But it was close to home because my father was placed in jail for $25 of illegal substance for 7 years and it was heartbreaking.”
The actor continued that his father was a good dad and truly inspirational, teaching him how to play football and also sports like tennis so that he wasn’t “limited” and that he’s since been living with him for the past 20 years.
“I took that DNA of how I felt about my father and placed it into Walter McMillian,” he added, concluding the film has also had a similar affect on viewers, inspiring them to help free wrongfully convicted prisoners.
Listen back to the full interview above to find out more and to hear what gig Sisanie almost scored alongside Jamie!
Catch Just Mercy out in select theaters now everywhere.