KHRIS DAVIS DOMINATES + DELIVERS AS 'BIG GEORGE FOREMAN'!
EDITOR IN CHIEF + PHOTOGRAPHY: COREY GUEVARRA
WARDROBE: MICKEY FREEMAN @ THE ONLY AGENCY
GROOMING: CHERYL BERGAMY @ EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS
Roaring into theaters everywhere tomorrow, viewers around the world will get a double introduction to the legendary story of the great George Foreman while also exclusively experiencing the film’s lead, incredible actor Khris Davis! Seasoned on both stage & screen, Khris is already a familiar face, appearing in shows like the critically acclaimed ‘Atlanta’ series & alongside all star lineups in films like ‘Judas & The Black Messiah’! His first major role of THIS magnitude however, we find the Camden, NJ native subtly taking it all in, recalling the very long road it took for this film to finally arrive in all of it’s presently premiering glory! But even title changes, hurricanes & of course COVID, couldn’t stop this powerful protagonists tale from being told. Watching Khris transform into Foreman throughout the various eras of his life in itself is a magical marvel. Later discovering that he in fact did not have previous professional fighting experience, made the dedication to his craft & this role ever more meaningful, causing both pride & passion, cheering both the art & the artist on in their delivery of this most monumental moment. “Big George Foreman” is by far the most apropos title for this film, chronicling the expansive life of an Olympic gold medalist, world heavyweight champion, preacher, boss businessman & perhaps most ideal face of ‘it gets greater later’ global record breaker as the only 45+ year old heavyweight champion in boxing history to date!
There’s a palpable excitement about this film, as it seamlessly creates a bridge between generations to know & understand the uber important story & legacy of the dynamic Mr. George Foreman! Back in a time when celebrity was backed by credibility & skill, what Mr. Foreman was able to create out of inherited obscurity is nothing short of amazing. As you watch the film, you realize that NO ONE else could’ve played this role quite like this! This character, nuanced & skilled was destined to be played only by Khris Davis. But who is this newer thespian titan, where has he been, where is he going & how did he get so damn good that he was able to prove to studios that he was their sure bet, their sure star to tell THIS story? Luckily, we were able to converse our way into a couple of answers & additional understandings of the actor & the accession of his art form! This is Khris Davis for the brilliant ‘Big George Foreman’ film, in his own words:
KHRIS LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING, WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST & ULTIMATE JOURNEY INTO ACTING?
I was a kid. I was very very young. I can't remember the exact age, but I think I was about 6 or 7 watching a film with my family. I remember that I was repeating all the words, I was mouthing all of the scenes to this movie & the next day, I remembered telling my mom “mom, I want to be an actor”. From that point on, the desire never really left my spirit. As time went on, I did other activities. I played sports my entire life! Everybody just knew I was going to go on to play college football. There was even a point in time where I actually wanted to become a Marine as a result of my ROTC days when I was in high school. Through all of those activities however, the one thing that never left my heart was acting! In fact I remember before some games, I'd be sitting there full pads, cowboy collars on, at my locker, holding an AMDA packet. I didn't truly know anything about AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) I just knew that it was a school that had acting & that because of that alone, I wanted to go there. Throughout my life I was always searching for some way to get to acting. On a soul level I felt it. This is my dharma, my purpose in life, this is what I came here to do.
WITHOUT CREATING ANY SPOILERS, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE MOVIE?
Well, I think I can say this because it’s in the previews & it’s literally the known primary premises of the movie [lol]. But my favorite part was undoubtedly the things that happened in the fights themselves because we made real contact! The impact was real. Obviously, there's some choreography that was at play, but all of the fighters, myself-included, we really wanted to truly authenticate some of the battles. So a lot of the impact you’ll see, for the record, isn’t fake! It’s very real & it was very hard! A lot of those punches weren’t pulled or staged in. We got hit for real [lol]. That's definitely one of the things I'm most proud of from this film, the authenticity!!
DID PLAYING THIS ROLE, PREPARING FOR THIS ROLE & DISCOVERING MR. FOREMAN’S LIFE INSPIRE YOU & YOUR OWN LIFE IN ANY WAY?
It absolutely did! I thought that I was somebody who could overcome adversity before doing this film. Being an actor or an independent artist or independent contractor, you have your own set of challenges & battles you may have to fight you know? Doing this film, there were so many threshold guardians that presented themselves that would get in the way of us completing this job, but this job in & of itself, felt like it was CHOSEN! So every time I would have some struggles, I would look back at Mr. Foreman's life & I would say to myself, if he could do that, I can do THIS! -& because I'm doing this, I can honor that which he went through! After going through the process of completing this film, whenever obstacles would arise, I was able to see them as mere threshold guardians that were no longer impossible to beat. Prior to this I would’ve gotten a little worn, a little nervous. I’d sit back & think I can't do this, maybe I should take a different route. But because of this film, I feel like it's prepared me more than I have ever been before to walk head on, into the rest of my life!
THIS MOVIE, A BIOPIC OF SUCH AN ICONIC FIGURE IS WELL…HUGE! TELL US HOW YOU FELT THE DAY YOU FOUND OUT YOU’D LANDED THE ROLE?
The day I found out that I landed this role…. You know, it's hard for me to get excited about things because I immediately understand the responsibility of what’s to come. So I was excited but also very aware of like “okay, now I really gotta get to work”! It's no longer a question mark in my head of “will I get it, will I be able to do it?” Now it's TIME! So the day I found out I got the role I was with my family. Naturally, they were all so proud & of course I don't think they truly grasped how big this job would be. So a joyous occasion yes, but for me, I instantly dove into getting ready to lean into the work. I understood that doing a biopic about an incredibly well-known global figure that everyone knows, either from the commercials, or the fight history, or church history. -I knew that I absolutely could NOT mess this up! I immediately started reading everything available on Mr. Foreman, watching every video I could possibly find, getting into dialect work, getting into script analysis & scene work. In the beginning especially, the script was also a living document, so it was constantly changing, but even that, the continuous building upon topical skeletons, I was mentally preparing for! It's a different kind of storytelling when it's not someone who's well known. When It's not a biopic. When the character is fictional, you can co-create almost anything for them, time is less of an issue & there’s often more creative liberty. But when you land a job like this, you are just praying that you have enough time to get all of those specific, important nuances that make that individual who they are, right! That you’re able to emulate those unique principles with precision (& most importantly) with honor.
So this all happened in July 2020. Of course we got pushed back because of COVID. Then we were going to start at the beginning of ‘21 & you guessed it, more COVID pushbacks. We ultimately ended up starting in the fall of 2021. Finally getting down there, I’ve now had all of this time with the script, it was great & I felt so ready with the work. We start the boxing training, I was scheduled to have about 6 weeks to learn how to fight like a professional heavyweight champion & how to specifically fight like Mr. Foreman, not to mention also learn 17 fights with 17 other guys!
2 weeks in, I’ll never forget it. I'm in the gym & this thing is whopping my behind! My spirit hurt, my brain hurt, my body hurt, my eyeballs hurt. I remember looking around the gym & I thinking “man they might have the wrong guy for this, I don’t know if I can do this”. I'm like, “do people do this? Do they actually do this for a living?” A couple weeks later you know what happens? A Hurricane hits New Orleans, so we had to leave! The roof on the production building, right where we were set up came completely off, windows were broken, it rained on everything!!! So there we were yet again, having to restart, from scratch! It set us back 3 more months, but it simultaneously gave me 3 MORE months of boxing training!! Whatever that intervention was, it literally felt so divine, like everything in the universe conspired to make sure that I was completely trained , secure, felt comfortable & confident to play THIS role!
DID YOU HAVE PREVIOUS BOXING EXPERIENCE KHRIS OR WAS THIS ALL A BRAND NEW WORLD TO YOU? WHAT WAS TRAINING & PHYSICAL PREPARATION LIKE?
Well, boxing training? None. I've had the experience in my life of getting into fights in my youth quite a bit, which is fine I guess [lol]. But I never actually put on gloves, wrapped up & got into a ring to learn this particular science! So getting into the gym for the first time with Dale Foster, who trained Will Smith for ‘Ali’ & Miles Teller for ‘Bleed for This’. Dale has a long list of people who he’s trained immaculately, he was like, “look, we're not going to treat this like we're training for a movie, we’re treating this like you're about to fight for a Heavyweight Championship belt”. -So for all intents & purposes, I was in a REAL fight camp. There were intense sparring workouts where sometimes, I’d have to go round for round with 5-6 guys, 1 after the other just like a heavyweight championship.
Initially, it was very difficult because you think you know how to punch until you have to hit that heavy bag & the heavy bag breaks your arm! Suddenly you're like, “oh my God, I didn't know I had to learn to even punch a certain way.” The speed bag was also a huge challenge for me, even setting into a really good one shot was very difficult for me. Not because I couldn't do it. But because it was important that I authenticated the power that Mr. Foreman had! I wanted to authenticate the skill & the intellectual boxing IQ that Mr. Foreman had in the ring, that was of the utmost importance for me! It was difficult to learn all of his mannerisms while also learning how to truly fight for the first time. A great big tipping point for me however was getting in the ring with a fighter named Cedric Boswell, a former WBA champion heavyweight. Cedric is about my height. He was enormous. The way that he was fighting, I've NEVER felt anything like that before in my life, the way he threw his shoulders around was insane! I would throw a punch & it would look like he barely moved his arm. But he would somehow sweep my arm up with his wrist, lock me into this weird hold & effortlessly just pull me down. Cedric was truly wild to be in the ring with but the great part about my time with him was that he gave me a real life reference point to know & to FEEL what Mr. Foreman was up against! He was fighting guys like Cedric, real boxers, & everybody who stepped into those rings wanted to WIN & fought like their lives depended on it. Cedric seemed to also have what felt like a “fight button” to the point that it sometimes appeared confusing for him to switch it off once the director yelled cut. With him, it was, we’re doing this [authentically] or we’re not doing it at all, there really wasn’t much of an in between. Even his few staged punches, his version of that was WAY harder than what anybody else ever threw at me with all their might! Interacting with Cedric was definitely like the ultimate training & preparation for me, it really drove the experience of what I was doing, right on home.
"THEY'RE GOING TO GET A WHOLE NEW, FULLY FLESHED OUT GEORGE FOREMAN, THEY'RE GOING TO GET PARTS OF HIM THAT WE'VE NEVER HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO SEE"
MANY MILLENNIALS & ABOVE ARE COMPLETELY FAMILIAR WITH GEORGE FOREMAN & HIS LEGACY, BUT THE NEW PEOPLE LOL, GEN-Z+ MAY NOT KNOW HIM BEYOND THE GRILL BRAND IF AT ALL. HOW DO YOU FEEL INTRODUCING THIS LEGENDARY STORY TO NEW GENERATIONS & WHAT DO YOU HOPE THEIR TAKE AWAY WILL BE?
I'm excited. I'm excited because even if they don't know Mr. Foreman the fighter & even if they don't know Mr. Foreman the spokesperson or ‘grill guy’, they do know that on some level, he was the guy that Muhammad Ali had to get through. That particular fight between him & Ali, that particular story, it’s factual & has never left mainstream conversation. You can be a Gen-Zer & be very familiar with Muhammad Ali. -And if you know about Muhammad Ali, you know that Ali VS Foreman was one of his greatest fights! -You have to know because that's where he developed the ‘rope-a-dope’, right? So you can't have that history without knowing about George Foreman, or at least you shouldn’t, because George Foreman makes that history full. & that knowledge then begets or lends way to all of his own personal & professional history & contributions to numerous sub-cultures as well. I think what's exciting for me is that with this film we get to introduce a whole new multi-layered Foreman. They're going to get a whole new fully fleshed out George Foreman, they're going to get parts of him that we've never had the privilege to see; those more human-nuanced parts to him. We didn't get a chance to see him smile during interviews, social media is new, no one knew his day to day like they could now. I think I think that they're going to take away a new & or additional respect for Mr. Foreman, one that even previous generations a