Don Cheadle took on the heavy task of creating a biopic unlike any others and of a music industry icon that influenced nearly every genre of music, Miles Davis.
Don Cheadle as Mile Davis
Hotel Rwanda star Don Cheadle took on the heavy task of both actor and director in the 2015 film Miles Ahead. And he wanted to do something different. In an interview with Rolling Stone, co-star Ewan McGregor explained, "It's less a Miles biopic than an attempt to cast Miles in a caper flick that he might like to have been a part of."
Don focused the film on the 5 year period where Miles did not perform as he had lost his muse, his wife Frances Taylor.
He also chose to go the unconventional route and in an interview with NPR he explained, "I wanted to make something that felt impressionistic, and really mercurial and could go anyplace. And was kind of gangster, and felt like the experiences that I have when I hear people tell stories about Miles Davis, and listen to his music — you know, how incredibly innovative and unexpected he could be."
"And I thought, if we're going to do a movie about his life, rather than do something that attempts to sort of check all the boxes — and gives short shrift to everyone — focus on a time that would give us the opportunity to explore all facets of his music, and really tell a story that felt creative."
The Oceans 11 star nailed his raspy voice and even learned the trumpet for the role. He had previously known how to play the saxophone so he already had a history of musical talent. Cheadle wanted everything to be as real as possible so he hired musicians instead of actors for most of the musical portions.
He and production created something beautiful in honor of the man behind Kind of Blue. Even Miles Davis himself was aware of his impact on the music industry famously saying in an interview when asked about what he's accomplished, "Well, I guess I changed music five or six times." That in itself was a humble estimation.
Don told Billboard how he wanted to "demonstrate the breadth and scope of his music," and "intended to say Miles is present, Miles lives and Miles is now, and the story of Miles Davis continues."
Check out the trailer for Miles Ahead to get a taste of the incredible performance of Don Cheadle as Miles Davis here: