The scene in question was when Brown would meet Muhammad Ali for the first time. Because Ali was already a celebrity when Brown met him, Mann felt that Brown needed to be quiet and nervous in the champion’s presence. Jamie Foxx immediately pointed out to Mann that this would not be an accurate answer between two black men. He said:
“I had never worked with Michael Mann, so I wasn’t aware of the presence, and I had to learn a few things. But he also learned a few things. Like, when I found myself walking around like Bundini talking to Ali the first time, he said that you should be afraid of him. I asked him why. He said, ‘Because he’s the champion.’ And I said, ‘So?’ He said, ‘Why do you say ‘so?’ I said it was because blacks don’t do it like that.”
Foxx patiently explained to Mann that Ali would not have intimidated Brown. In fact, she would have approached with kindness and confidence, showing her sociability and willingness to mingle with a celebrity. Foxx initially followed Mann’s initial direction, but felt that his instincts as an actor remained the correct way to play the scene. foxx said:
“[I said to Mann] “If I see someone who’s a star and I greet them, I feel like I’m a part of them.” So we shot it nervously, and I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, but I had to respect the director.”
Foxx was able to prove his point to Mann a few days later when a random fan approached the actor while filming an outdoor scene in Miami. The fan had the same confidence that Foxx said that he should have Brown.