Recently I had the chance to visit the set of the upcoming film The Soloist. The Soloist will be directed by Joe Wright and stars Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr. and Catherine Keener. The film tells the story of Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx), a musical prodigy who was discovered on skid row by a reporter Steve Lopez (Downey Jr.). Ayers was both schizophrenic and homeless, far from musical fame. Lopez formed a friendship with Ayers, and that friendship translated into several articles and then a chance for Ayers to play at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Wright is no stranger to recreating the look and feel of certain periods though. Wright, directing period pieces such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, was drawn to this project for several reasons. Wright said “Personally, I always like to make films that I think I might learn something from. I felt that this was an opportunity for me to learn about aspects of mental health, an opportunity to learn about music and an opportunity to learn about certain social issues in America.” As for the cast, Wright was also excited about the talent that he has at his disposal. On the subject of Jamie Foxx, Wright said “Jamie is, I think, one of the best actors of his generation and certainly one always wants to work with the best.” Robert Downey Jr., coming off a huge recent success with Iron Man, recently had this to say about his role in a USAToday article, “I’ve loved every part of Iron Man, but the last thing you want is to be seen as that guy, who just does that role.”
The sisters of Nathaniel Ayers were also on hand. They took an opportunity to thank the filmmakers for making the film, and telling Nathaniel’s amazing story. Since Ayers grew up in Cleveland, director Joe Wright chose to film many scenes from Ayers’ childhood in the same city. Production created several structures and facades to match the ambiance of 1960′s Cleveland. Wright says also that the film will include some scenes depicting the Hough riots that took place in Cleveland in 1966. The home pictured below was not the actual home of the Ayers family, but was chosen because it is on Hough avenue. This was the very street that gained national infamy, and had an impact on Nathaniel.
Overall, the set was very nicely done. I didn’t have an opportunity to speak with any of the actors, but Wright and producers Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff were very optimistic towards the project and enjoyed shooting in Cleveland. The Soloist will be released on November 21 and has already garnered some Oscar buzz. Keep your eyes on FSR as we will keep close coverage on the film.
Director Joe Wright, Producers Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff
They came to Cleveland in April expecting snow, they had to make it instead
So I don’t know if this was part of the set, or just a car in East Cleveland
A retro gas station…
Myself and Joe Wright