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"I have to say that I'm the supporting actor and that Ray Charles is really the lead actor," Jamie says, "because his life was so compelling. It's such a pleasant surprise, because [when you think of Ray,] you think 'America the Beautiful', or 'You Got the Right One, Baby.' Then you see all of these beautiful stories, some wicked stories dealing with his life, and then you see how he bursts into this beautiful music. I think that Ray Charles was the first Internet connection, meaning that his music connects everybody, no matter what color, no matter what creed."

Jamie was highly committed to portraying the blind Charles as accurately as possible. He wore a prosthesis over his eyes that rendered him blind for 12 to 14 hours a day. "Even at lunch I couldn't see, which was tough. One day, they go, 'And that's lunch.' And everybody takes off," and Jamie would be left on the set.

This experience of blindness, however, gave Jamie a window into how Ray Charles experienced the world. "My hearing got better," Jamie says. "I played the piano, but without sight, you fully feel the music stroke you. We interpret things in front of us. If we know there's sunlight up here we prepare our bodies. But if you're blind, the sunlight strokes you. So the music was stroking me."
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FROM: Oprah Reveals the Next Big Thing
Published on October 19, 2004

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