Jamie Foxx (who was already a classically trained pianist) learned to play the cello for the film.
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Most of the homeless people shown in the film are actually homeless.
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In the scene in which Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) and Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) attend a rehearsal concert, all the seats are covered with canvas. This was not cinematic imagery. This is actually done in some concert halls during rehearsals to reflect a more accurate sound, as if the seats were being occupied.
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The real Nathaniel Ayers was invited to view the filming of the scenes at Disney Hall in Los Angeles, but opted on the day to set up his cello and music across the street and continue playing, saying "I really got something going here. I think I'm going to stay and play this just a little bit longer." Steve Lopez spoke about this incident in an interview conducted by Dave Davies for National Public Radio's program Fresh Air in April 2008. He added: "I look(ed) across (the street from Disney Hall) and there he is sawing away, as he calls it, and inside this building there are maybe three hundred people, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the cast, the crew, are shooting a movie about his life, and I said to Producer Gary Foster, 'You know what Gary? We picked the right name for this thing, The Soloist. There he is.'"
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The scene (during the orchestra's performance of Beethoven) where Nathaniel imagines each color associated with a sound, refers to a neurological phenomenon called "Synesthesia", in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory, or cognitive pathway. It is known to have affected many popular musicians, painters and authors like Stevie Wonder, Van Gogh, and Vladimir Nabokov.
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The writing of the book and the selling of the film rights have helped pay Ayers' expenses and helped his sister, a mental health professional, set up a foundation for him.
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Jamie Foxx had his teeth ground down for the role of Ayers. He says, "My teeth are just so big and white, a homeless person would never have them."
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As of April 2009, Nathaniel Ayers "has a girlfriend, and is doing reasonably well", according to Steve Lopez. He has also taught himself to play the flute.
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The filmmakers shot on "skid row" in Los Angeles, which is known for being home to one of the largest stable populations of transient persons (homeless) in the United States.
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Several members of the L.A.M.P. Community, a housing and care center for the mentally ill, appeared in the film, and attended the Los Angeles premiere, and after-party. Nathaniel Ayers is a resident, and beneficiary, of L.A.M.P.
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Despite his distrust of two-dimensional images, Nathaniel Ayers did attend the premiere of this film in Los Angeles with his family, who flew in for the occasion. He rarely watches movies or television.
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Lorraine Toussaint (who played Mr. Ayers' mother), LisaGay Hamilton (who played Mr. Ayers' sister Jennifer), and Nelsan Ellis (who played L.A.M.P. Director David Carter) are all real-life graduates of The Juilliard School's Drama Division. Mr. Ayers was a student in their prestigious Music Division.
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In real-life, Ayers had little resistance to the cello teacher, and has remained close friends and protégé of Los Angeles Philharmonic cellists Peter Snyder (the teacher played by Tom Hollander) and Ben Hong. In real-life, Ayers had a lot of resistance to attending the first concert at Disney concert hall.
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In the film, Steve Lopez is portrayed as divorced. However, his real-life counterpart remains happily married. Lopez said that while having himself portrayed as recently single in the film was a bit weird, it was much more important to him that the filmmakers captured the themes of his articles, rather than absolute facts.
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Originally planned for a November 2008 release date, the film was held back, due to Paramount's tightening of the number of films it releases per year, and released late April 2009. The trailer continued to run in theaters with November as the release date.
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Graffiti of the repeated phrase "I like myself" can also be seen behind Edward Norton in a promotional photo for Fight Club (1999).
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This is the second time Robert Downey, Jr. has portrayed a real-life reporter. He previously portrayed San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery in Zodiac (2007).
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The first movie to feature Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx. The second being Due Date (2010).
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In the scene where Nathaniel Ayers is carrying his stuff to his new apartment, he can be seen wearing, over his costume, a large yellow necklace which says "America", and shows a logo. America is the name of one of the most popular soccer teams in Mexico.
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In the tunnel scene, Nathaniel Ayers (Jaimie Foxx) is wearing a mask of a Mexican wrestler on the back of his head.
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