Actor Don Cheadle Courtesy Photo
Donald Frank Cheadle, Jr. was born on Nov. 29, 1964 to Don Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, and Betty, a teacher. The chameleon-like character actor has long been recognized by his peers as among the best in the business.
Here, he talks about his production company, his humanitarian work in Darfur and his latest film, â€œHotel for Dogs,â€ a family comedy co-starring Lisa Kudrow, Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin and Kyla Pratt.
Last modified on Wednesday, 04 February 2009 22:42
KW: What interested you in doing a kiddie comedy?
DC: Itâ€™s one of the first movies that Iâ€™ve ever done that my kids could see. I thought this was a good one and I actually liked the script and the relationship that my character has with the kids. Usually, itâ€™s a kidsâ€™ world where no adult has a brain, and the kids are so much smarter and so mentally outclass the grownups. Most of my scenes were with the kids. They were great. They were little professionals and serious about the work. They had acting coaches and everything.
KW: I always think of you and Christian Bale as the best actors who have never won Academy Awards. How does it feel to be snubbed every year at Oscar time?
DC: I donâ€™t care about the Oscars. Quite honestly, when you know what goes into that whole process, itâ€™s very much like a political election. You have to lobby and go to parties. It has nothing to do with your performance. Itâ€™s a very political thing that I, personally, donâ€™t enjoy doing. Thatâ€™s not really on the list of things that I want to achieve in this career.
KW: What is on that list on the list you mentioned of things that you want to achieve in your career?
DC: I want to have longevity. I want my production company to be able to stand on its own two feet. I want to produce movies that I donâ€™t have to be in. I just really want to have a foothold in this business and do the kind of work that I can stand by that has value. Hopefully, Iâ€™ll be getting this Miles Davis project up and running soon.
KW: I know you play sax. So, will you be playing Miles, even though he was a trumpeter?
DC: Yeah, thatâ€™s the plan.
KW: Who are some of your favorite jazz musicians?
DC: I like many guys from that era: [John] Coltrane and [Thelonious] Monk and [Charles] Mingus and a lot of the cats Miles played with like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.
KW: What made you want to do a bio-pic about Miles?
DC: I donâ€™t really want to do a bio-pic. I donâ€™t think that would be that interesting. I want to do something that uses his creativity and the energy of who Miles was more than a cradle to grave story about him. A straight biography could be better done by PBS.
KW: What are you doing as far as your African initiatives to end genocide, given Barack Obama's presidency? Have you asked for help from the new administration in terms of funding that project?
DC: Theyâ€™ve already spoken about their commitment to Darfur and to the region. So hopefully, weâ€™ll have a little more traction than we had with the George Bush administration which just gave a lot of lip service, although Bush actually can toot his own horn about AIDS and Africa.