OnlyOnAOL: Why some days, Don Cheadle felt 'a little shaky' as Miles Davis
By: Donna Freydkin
Slacker, he's not. Don Cheadle plays legendary musician Miles Davis in his latest film, "Miles Ahead." He also co-wrote the script. He directed the movie. Oh, and he learned how to play trumpet.
No, he did not operate craft services, he laughs. "I did not do that. And I did not do any of the wardrobe. Wait a minute..." he trails off with a smile.
The movie isn't your standard biopic: opening with a young, gifted someone, tracing his or her rise to fame and fortune, then the inevitable drug/alcohol/gambling-induced downfall, before a triumphant comeback. Instead, "Miles Ahead" focuses on a quiet time in the man's life when he didn't actually produce music. After all, Davis is viewed as one of the most creative, influential and respected musicians in history, and a jazz trailblazer.
"When you're doing the research about him and you look at his life, you know there's a five-year period where this amazing prolific artist went silent. That piqued my curiosity. Poetically, that's such a down-note. We crafted the narrative around that," says Cheadle.
He ceaselessly practiced his own instrument, while shooting his Showtime series "House of Lies" -- he plays a brutally cutthroat management consultant. And Cheadle did his due diligence, but Davis, he's not -- musically speaking.
"I do not have it nailed. I'm playing the solos. I am playing in the movie. It was just a process, every day. It depends on the day. Some days I felt I understood what was happening. Other days, I was a little shaky. I play trumpet but I'm not a trumpet player," he clarifies.
Cheadle downplays the immensity of his involvement and commitment to the project. He's a laid-back, soft-spoken guy, who says he was just trying to do his many jobs to the best of his ability.
"Directing myself – I don't even know what that means. It was more for the other actors that it was tricky. It's not everyday, it's very rare, to have someone be in the scene in with you and when it's over, ask them to try it another way," he says.
In May, he's War Machine in "Captain America: Civil War." About which he'll say precisely not one word, as is the case always with Marvel films. But are his two kids -- ages 21 and 19 -- at least impressed that dad is in one of the most massive superhero franchises of all time?
"My kids would have to answer that. Your dad is never the coolest dude. Your dad is always your dad. I don't care who he is. James Bond's dad is just dad. You're just a conduit, a delivery system for the cool people," he says.