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    • CommentAuthoralisa086
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2018
     
    I guess you would say we wanted his blessing. So when I went to meet Ray Charles, he walks down the hallway at his office in his studio, almost as if he could see. We sat down, and I said, “Mr. Charles, I’m just trying to do the best I can to portray you,’ and he says [impersonating Charles], “Look, if you can play the blues, baby, anything is possible. Can you play the blues, man?”
    We sat down and we started playing the blues on the piano and then he moved to some Thelonious Monk, which is very intricate, for all you piano enthusiasts out there. And I hit a wrong note. He immediately stopped playing and said ‘Why the hell would you do that?’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, I was trying to keep up.’ He said, “Don’t hit the wrong notes … life is about finding the wrong notes, and taking your time to find the right notes.” I played it, we got it right, and he got up and said, “The kid’s got it,” and he walked out. After that, we were off to the races, beautiful journey, and we got a chance to show him the movie — he viewed it in his own way, just before he passed. It was a blessed experience.
    The piano thing came in a weird way. [Director] Taylor Hackford says, “I think you’re going to be great as the character; I just need to find someone who can mirror you on the piano.” I said, “You happen to be in luck, because I went to college on a classical piano scholarship.” He was like, ‘What?!’ That meant he can just hold me in the frame and not have to cut away to someone else’s hands. It was a blessing and curse, because the curse was that Mr. Charles had re-recorded some of his songs, but he played freely without singing, and then he sung on top of that. So I had to learn all of the fingering of the piano, in order for it to look authentic. That was hours and hours and hours of not leaving the hotel with the piano, to make sure it was right. But I think that’s what gives it an edge. When you watch autobiographies, or when you watch someone playing the piano, I know what I do — I look, and a lot of times, people are playing in the wrong register, and so that means they’re not really playing. We were lucky enough to be able to play all of the songs.













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