D’Works calls a cabbie

Foxx fits dramatic, comedic role as Cruise co-star

Director Michael Mann has set Jamie Foxx to star with Tom Cruise in “Collateral,” the Stuart Beattie-scripted DreamWorks drama that will shoot in October.

Foxx will play Max, a failed comedy writer whose mundane existence as an L.A. cab driver takes a dramatic turn when he picks up a contract killer and is forcibly pressed into service as his chauffeur on a series of hits.

Since Cruise agreed to play the villain role before doing “Mission: Impossible 3,” Mann has searched carefully for the right companion because the film’s core is the relationship between the two men. More than a dozen actors vied for the high profile role. Mann liked the way Foxx matched up with Cruise when the actors read together.

Foxx certainly fits the mold of comedy writer, given that he began his acting career on a laugh track in “In Living Color” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.”

Dramatic chops were more important, as the cab driver needs to make a stand against his passenger as the body count grows. Foxx has grown as a dramatic actor, as evidenced by his performance in Mann’s last film “Ali,” in which Foxx played the boxer’s charismatic but tortured corner man Drew “Bundini” Brown. He also played quarterback Willie Beamon in the Oliver Stone-directed “Any Given Sunday.”

Foxx just wrapped the title role in Crusader Entertainment’s “Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story,” which Taylor Hackford directed. He hosts “The ESPY Awards” in Los Angeles on Wednesday, then will topline the FX Network drama “Redemption: The Story of Stan ‘Tookie’ Williams,” a film about the Crips gang leader.

He’ll then move on to “Collateral,” which will shoot around the Los Angeles area, turf Mann previously mined in “Heat” and the TV series “Robbery Homicide Division.”

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