In between discussing Iron Man 3, The Avengers and his new Showtime project House of Lies, Collider’s Sheila Roberts was able to get Cheadle to discuss the Miles Davis Biopic.
Q: A while back you talked to us about the Miles Davis project with a lot of enthusiasm, but we haven’t heard anything about it. Could you bring us up to date where it stands?
Don Cheadle: It’s still grinding. We’re talking about coming onto these films and trying to get the financing for stuff that’s not your standard, down the middle of the road studio movie fare. It’s tough. People think it’s niche, although our treatment of the script, it’s not a biopic. It’s not deep. It’s not serious fare. It’s not a cradle to grave sort of overview of his entire life.
The movie takes place over a day and a half of his life — a very intense day and a half of his life but a lot of people haven’t even engaged because of what they perceive it’s going to be. They go “Oh, we don’t want to do a movie like that.” I say “Have you read it?” “No, I haven’t read it.” “Well read it and then say you don’t want to do a movie like that.” So it’s having to push through a lot of these things and confront people. Once they read it, they’re like “Oh, this is great.” So everyone’s really dying to be the second person to say yes and to invest in this film.
It’s clear to me that the money quote is: “The movie takes place over a day and a half of his life.”
Cheadle has already told us the biopic was never going to be cradle to grave, but this really underscores just how not-like-a-normal-biopic the film is designed to be.
I have always preferred an overview style of film for the biopic, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think this type of ‘deconstructed biopic‘ can’t be wildly entertaining and successful. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was really hoping for a more ‘life and times’ biopic. And that could very well be because it’s what I am most accustomed to as a moviegoer.
I love Ray. I love The Buddy Holly Story. I
love like Bird. So it’s in my cinema DNA to gravitate towards more cradle to grave films about famous artists.
What I really would love to know is what ‘day and a half’ of Miles Davis’ life Cheadle plans to focus on. Is it a real day in the jazz icon’s life, or simply invented for film?
When Cheadle says, “It’s not deep. It’s not serious fare,” I have no clue how to figure what he means. It’s not a comedy, so we have to assume it’s a drama — but not a serious drama.
The curiosity factor jumps 10 notches based on Cheadle’s new comments. Yes, we now can put to bed any hopes of a detailed film about the life and career of the legendary trumpeter. But we’re also totally in the dark about how Cheadle’s ‘day and a half in the life of Miles Davis movie’ is going to play out.
Maybe an elaborate biopic of Miles Davis that follows the trumpeter through his life and career is just too damn expensive and too damn complicated for a 2 1/2 hour movie. Maybe zeroing in on a very specific, very important day in his life was the best way for Cheadle to get this project off the ground.
It looks like it’s going to be a struggle regardless of what kind of movie they want to make.