ET's Nischelle Turner spoke with Foxx at the Los Angeles community screening of his new, powerful legal drama at the Cinemark theater in Baldwin Hills on Monday, and the Oscar winner reflected on why playing a man who spends time behind bars hit so close to home.
"You know my father went to jail for $25 worth of illegal substances for seven years," Foxx shared. "He educated people for 25 years in the school system. The very kids he taught he was sitting next to [in jail]."
"I don't like going to visit people in prison. But I wrote him a letter, I said, 'When you do get out, things have gotten good for me,'" Foxx recalled. "I got a chance to take him to the US Open and we watched Venus play."
Just Mercy tells the real-life story of Walter McMillian, a black man wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit. Foxx stars as Walter McMillian -- who served six years on death row in Alabama before his conviction was overturned, largely thanks to the efforts of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson -- played in the film by Michael B. Jordan.
Foxx recalled watching the film with his father, who was moved by the story's powerful message.
"When we watched this movie, he says, 'Wow, man,' and, 'It's an ocean of us out there. It's millions of us going through the same thing every single day,'" Foxx said. "So I took that experience of my father when I was playing Walter McMillian and put in my mind that Michael B. Jordan playing Bryan Stevenson [was] me walking in saying to my father, 'Everything is gonna be okay.'"
"Luckily we get a chance to have a happy ending," Foxx added. "But there's so many people that don't get that opportunity."
ET also spoke with Jordan, who recently celebrated the film's upcoming release with a special video which he posted to Instagram that gave fans a look at the film's final day of production.
Jordan -- who also produced the film through his production company Outlier Society -- marveled at Foxx's performance and the power he brought to the project while explaining why he shared the celebratory behind-the-scenes video.
"That was the end of the movie, that was Jamie's last scene," Jordan shared. "I wanted people to be reminded of how amazing he is."
"I thought this project and this role would be the perfect vehicle for him. [And] I thought it was really, really important so to see that journey kind of come to an end," Jordan added. "To watch him sitting next to me and us to wrap up that scene, it was a moment that I'll never forget. So it was really special, I wanted to share it with everybody."
Just Mercy hits theaters across the country Jan. 10.