The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.


Taylor Hackford


Taylor Hackford (story), James L. White (story) | 1 more credit »
3,445 ( 585)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 51 wins & 54 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jamie Foxx ... Ray Charles
Kerry Washington ... Della Bea Robinson
Regina King ... Margie Hendricks
Clifton Powell ... Jeff Brown
Harry Lennix ... Joe Adams
Bokeem Woodbine ... Fathead Newman
Aunjanue Ellis ... Mary Ann Fisher
Sharon Warren ... Aretha Robinson
C.J. Sanders ... Young Ray Robinson
Curtis Armstrong ... Ahmet Ertegun
Richard Schiff ... Jerry Wexler
Larenz Tate ... Quincy Jones
Terrence Howard ... Gossie McGee (as Terrence Dashon Howard)
David Krumholtz ... Milt Shaw
Wendell Pierce ... Wilbur Brassfield


The story of Ray Charles (played by Jamie Foxx), music legend. Told in his adult life with flashbacks to his youth we see his humble origins in Florida, his turbulent childhood, which included losing his brother and then his sight, his rise as pianist in a touring band, him writing his own songs and running his own band, and then stardom. Also includes his addiction to drugs and its affect on his working life and family life. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The extraordinary life story of Ray Charles. A man who fought harder and went farther than anyone thought possible. See more »


Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for depiction of drug addiction, sexuality and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Writer, producer, and director Taylor Hackford secured the rights to Ray Charles' life story in 1987, but couldn't find a studio to finance the movie. See more »


During a montage of the band traveling in the 1950s, modern TTX railcars can be seen crossing a bridge over the road. See more »


[first lines]
Aretha Robinson: Always remember your promise to me. Never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final shot of the movie contains a freeze frame of the real Ray Charles and underneath it reads the caption: "Ray Charles Robinson = 1930 - 2004" See more »

Alternate Versions

Universal Pictures Oscar Edition contains Extended Cut of the film. See more »


Referenced in The Big Fat Quiz of the Year (2005) See more »


Moonlight Sonata
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven (as Ludwig Von Beethoven)
Arranged by Curt Sobel
Performed by Curt Sobel
Courtesy of Palisades Music Productions
See more »

User Reviews

Sometimes less is more...
28 November 2019 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

... and the crafters of this film got that. Ray Charles was a flawed human being. Actually the words "flawed" and "human" are redundant, so don't think I'm judging him. But his life was very complex. He had a drug problem. He had twelve children by ten women over a period of 35 years. He had repressed guilt over the accidental death of his baby brother. And he was one of the great musical geniuses of the 20th century. He started out crafting and performing great tunes in the early 50s before rock and roll arrived and managed to be relevant into the 1970s. When the likes of Bloodrock and DOA edged him out of the pop charts. No, seriously. But history has proven that his music has lasting appeal.

So this film stars Jamie Fox in the title role and manages to blend all aspects of the artist's life into a cohesive whole - his impoverished childhood, his life as a musician and artist, his private life at home, and his private life on the road. And Ray's delusional belief that he can keep all these different parts of his life from having a head on collision. It runs back and forth between all of these phases of Ray Charles' life and kept me very engaged. And the music will give you a soul attack.

Jamie Foxx disappears into the role of Charles and reflects the complexity of the man while still leaving him enough of an enigma to keep you intrigued. Kerry Washington plays Bea, the long suffering wife of Charles. When it comes to Charles' life on the road she doesn't know and she doesn't want to know. And yet she knows. Margie and Mary Ann are the two women who represent all of the other women in Charles' life. If you had the actual number of women involved with Charles in this bio pic, the traffic direction would become so complex that you wouldn't see the forest for the trees.

Special kudos to Curtis Armstrong as Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic record producer and friend of Ray. If not for this film I would only remember him from the 80s TV show Moonlighting where he was the (at least initially) unwilling object of oddball Agnes Depesto's affection.

This film has great acting, obviously a great soundtrack, is a shining example of expert editing, and has a screenplay that I just don't get bored of even though the story of Ray is pretty well known. Great for repeat viewing. Highly recommended.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

29 October 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story See more »


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,039,730, 31 October 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (extended)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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