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The Miles Davis Movie: ‘Essence’ interview reveals biopic narrative

marchcover-cheadle-180x240 File this under: late to the party (but no less intriguing). Back in March 2008 Don Cheadle appeared on the cover of Essence. I know this because in doing research I stumbled upon a transcript of the interview.

What’s notable is how much Cheadle expounds on the Miles Davis biopic in literally a few short sentences.

This is interesting because in more recent magazine articles I’ve read with Cheadle he rarely brings up the issue – however, in his defense, the person conducting the interview usually does not engage Cheadle about the Miles Davis project because (most likely) the interview is arranged to promote a current movie. I applaud Jesse Washington for not only bringing up the Miles Davis film, but also leading off with it.

It’s fascinating to read what Cheadle said in March, which for my money is the most detailed commentary I have read yet about the Miles Davis biopic. And we’re talking half a paragraph.

I have written numerous posts about what narrative style the biopic might follow. This brief Q&A just might hold the best, and most important, clue yet as to how the story of Miles Davis is going to be told.

Essence.com: So we hear you’re working on a movie about Miles Davis. What will it be like?

Don Cheadle: The Miles movie I’m trying to do is not some traditional biopic. It’s an interpretation of himself, more than it is attempting to be some sort of cradle-to-grave, historically accurate depiction of who he was. The first line in our movie, with him in the dark, is of him saying ‘Some of this s–t might have happened.’

Inside his answer of about 70 words total, the four words most significant for me are –

“…not some traditional biopic.”

When you compare this idea of producing a non-traditional biopic to what Darryl Porter (Miles Davis Properties LLC) said in a recent Variety article about the Miles Davis movie being developed as a “deconstructed biopic,” well, it’s easy to see the correlation.

Based on what Cheadle is saying it’s obvious the Miles Davis film is not going to be like “Ray,” or as he puts it, “…some sort of cradle-to-grave, historically accurate depiction of who he [Davis] was.”

Between what Cheadle said in March and what Porter said more recently, it looks pretty certain that the Miles Davis project will forgo the cookie-cutter biopic for a more progressive strategy in telling the story of the jazz icon.

Now we start to wonder how non-traditional Cheadle wants to take it. So many questions…

So many questions….

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6 thoughts on “The Miles Davis Movie: ‘Essence’ interview reveals biopic narrative

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  6. Hi Mr. Cheadle! I love your charisma, it’s part of what makes your acting have such an impact on your many fans including myself! My name is Benita Price, and I am a Jazz Singer, I do a Billie Holiday portrayal, and am a huge Jazz lover! Miles continues to inspire the masses including myself, and I know that he and Lady new one another. I would like to humbly invite you to check out a very raw video I’ve made on Youtube of me as Billie, you can find it under MrsJama. In your movie if you’d like to take a chance on introducing an unknown talent, myself as Billie Holiday, I won’t let you down! With or with out me I’m sure it will be a success, and I’ll be checking out with the millions of other Don Cheadle fan! Peace & Love! Benita Price

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