First Look At Don Cheadle In Costume For Miles Davis Biopic
Actor Don Cheadle’s obsession with Miles Davis began as a child with the jazz trumpeter’s album Porgy and Bess, a beloved staple of his family’s music collection. Now, Cheadle will make his feature film directorial debut with a crowdfunded biopic on Davis that will focus on the musician’s transition into music after a five-year hiatus—otherwise known as his “silent period”—and tumultuous relationship with first wife Frances Taylor Davis.
In an EW exclusive of the actor in character, Cheadle gave fans a first look at his interpretation of the icon during in the period leading up to his 1969 jazz-rock fusion recording In a Silent Way. “It’s surreal,” says the 49-year-old House of Lies actor, who in the photograph totes a trumpet and sports Davis’ trademark jheri-curled mullet.
The biopic—which will co-star Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and Emayatzy Corinealdi—begins shooting this week in Cincinnati after being in development for nearly a decade. Cheadle spoke to EW about the independent film—which he co-wrote—and shared details about how he was approached by the Davis family to profile the prodigious talent, why he turned to jazz heads to crowdsource funding, and explained why he’s set on making a movie that Davis himself “would want to star in.”
Check out a few interview snippets of Don explaining his relationship with this role
EW: So you’re a longtime fan; you admired him as an artist and man. How did you decide that you were going to make a movie? It’s no small thing to embark on a project like this … especially not in this case, where you’re approaching this independently.
DC: This was something that had been a periphery for me. I never thought about portraying him, really. I had done several other quote-unquote biopics and was always struck by the limitations they presented, because they were trying to be historically accurate. Let’s be honest, any biopic is a series of omissions and conflations of events and amalgamations of characters. And you’re trying to have a movie experience under three hours, so in the process you condense people’s lives from cradle to grave, so things tend to feel episodic and event-oriented as opposed to a story about people and relationships and a character.
So I didn’t want to do another biopic. So when I heard the idea, from various people who had played with him, producers, writers, that this could potentially be something, I thought, ‘if the script is great, I would be open to it since he’s always been a fascinating figure to me.’
And then, in 2008, when Miles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his nephew was interviewed and was asked, ‘Would you ever do a movie on his life?” He said yes, and that Don Cheadle is going to play him. And I was like ‘I am?’
Sounds like this flick literally fell into his lap
EW: So don’t call this a biopic.
DC: You can if you want, and there are elements of it that would make it that. But to me, that was something I was rejecting. I wasn’t interested in that, and I’m not interested by all the things that a traditional biopic does. I want to tell a hot story that’s full of his music that feels impressionistic in that it finds a way to incorporate all his musical styles and influences and ideas. It needs to feel like his approach: “I don’t care about what happened before. I’m about what’s happening now and about what’s happening next.” That’s Miles’ marching orders to me.
Based on the photo and Don Cheadle’s track record for being a GREAT actor, we think this one is a must-see. You feelin’ it?
Image via Entertainment Weekly