Black men are complex human beings. The good, the bad and the ugly. The losses and the triumphs. The joy and the pain. When a Black man, such as two-time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic gold medalist George Foreman captures the eyes of the world for decades, playing him in an anticipated biopic comes with its own set of challenges. Rising star Khris Davis accepted the challenge as he prepared to showcase his acting chops, but also prepare for all of who Foreman encompasses.
“The preparation never stops,” the actor says about his portrayal of Foreman. From the script work to the dialect work, to the “emotional integrity,” Davis continues to look for the words it took to play the iconic boxer. For many, Foreman has always been one of the more under-the-radar icons that we honored when his name was mentioned but often bypassed his accomplishments. Whereas the late Muhammad Ali was more of a public in-your-face figure, his one-time rival and friend foreman was regarded as a shy yet powerful man. In the new movie Big George Foreman, Davis had the chance to bring to light the untold and inspirational stories of one of the greatest boxers ever to enter the ring.
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Directed by George Tillman Jr., the film recounts the true story of boxing champion-turned-preacher and entrepreneur, George Foreman. After growing up in poverty, Foreman channeled his anger into becoming an Olympic gold medalist and World Heavyweight Champion. His story is by far a contrast from Davis, who came from the world of Broadway.
“I have never met someone of that magnitude before,” Davis explains meeting Foreman for the first time. “This is Mr. George Foreman. His legacy is minted in history.” The importance of this story being told is not lost on the Judas and the Black Messiah actor.
Davis is a student of life and a heavily trained actor. He studied The Meisner Technique at Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia, PA and the Stanislavski Acting Method at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, where he also pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. Another one of Davis’ techniques is Shakespeare training. It is no wonder why critics are raving about his portrayal of the man behind the George Foreman Grill. Davis is always ready to learn in everything he does, even being on set with Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker.
“From the moment he began speaking, I was in class,” he says of the collaboration between the two.
It is the journey that audiences will learn about when watching Big George Foreman. It took 10 years for Foreman to win his second Heavy-Weight Championship, and in doing so became the oldest champion on record at 45 years old. It has taken Davis almost 10 years to play this character since making his New York stage debut in 2016.
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As the star of Marco Ramirez's The Royale at Lincoln Center Theatre, Davis’ career has come full circle. The off-broadway play was loosely based on the life of heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. Davis' performance earned him the 2017 Clive Barnes Award for Theater, the 2016 Obie "Performance Award," the 2016 Theatre World Award and the 2016 Drama Desk Award.
It has been his commitment that has led him to this point of his career, which has seen him share the screen with Donald Glover in the Emmy Award-winning comedy, Atlanta, as well as star in the revival of the Broadway Play Death of a Salesman.
“Commitment is the key,” Davis says about his career. “Having focus will definitely have its ups and downs.”
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Big George Foreman speaks to those who have a dream and will keep the faith and do the work to accomplish that dream. Davis’ portrayal of Foreman is not only a dream come true for the actor, but his journey in Hollywood is also a testament to working towards your dreams.
“You are going to sacrifice a lot,” Davis says. “A lot of friendships, relationships, time and experiences.”
Through that sacrifice, Davis has seen his star rise on stage, TV and on our movie screens. His focus helped him be named one of Vogue Magazine’s Star to Watch in 2016. Now, offers continue to pour in for the leading man.
“If you have a dream and you really want to attain that dream, you have to not be afraid to go out on that ledge and take it… You are always going to be afraid to start your dream… you are always going to be afraid even when you are in it, so do it anyway.”
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For dreaming out loud and taking risks while being afraid to do so, Khris Davis is our latest Turned Gentleman star.
Check out the full interview below.
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Creative Director: BYoung Agency
Stylist: Charlie Chuck
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