Don Cheadle On Miles Davis Biopic: First-Time Director Used Music, Fake Reporter, And Drugs?

Actor Don Cheadle made the transition from actor to director with the upcoming Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead.

During a promotional conference for the film last October, the Oscar-nominated actor had a chance to open up about the project – including his overall concept and approach for telling the story of Miles Davis on the big-screen.

Don Cheadle
According to the Guardian, Cheadle focused on using Miles Davis’ music as the key factor of the film. He claimed that his goal was to use as much of the late musician’s impressive catalog as possible.

“I wanted to be able to put all of Miles’s music into the film – all that we had the rights to – and I didn’t want to be stuck within one period of music.”

Cheadle further explained his unique approach to the Miles Davis biopic. Most biopics focus on the chronological life of the celebrity that is being featured.

However, Don Cheadle decided to take a different route by refusing to tell this particular story in chronological order. According to Don, he did not want the movie to be placed in a restricted box – something that would have likely happened if he told a chronological story.

“Had we told it in a way that was chronological, was cradle to the grave, we would have been pigeonholed into these specific moments that coincided with the music. I wanted to approach the music in the way that I experience his music when I listen to it.”

As seen in the first Miles Ahead trailer, which was released online Tuesday, it is apparently clear that Don Cheadle covered a wide range of moments and ages throughout the life and career of Miles Davis.

Don Cheadle
The fact that Don Cheadle is the star and director of Miles Ahead is apparently just one of the many highlights of this film and the behind-the-scenes process that led to its development.

Actor Ewan McGregor plays a major supporting role in the film as a reporter that essentially cheated his way into Miles Davis’ apartment as well as his life in general, according to the Guardian. However, Ewan’s character was reportedly not based on one specific individual. The report states that the reporter character is actually a composite of multiple writers that interviewed Miles Davis back in the 1970s – making Ewan’s addition to the cast one of the factual liberties taken by Don Cheadle and co-screenwriter Steven Baigelman.

Perhaps the mere idea that Don Cheadle explored factual liberties in the first place with his Miles Davis biopic further proves that the longtime actor tried to get as far away from the traditional biopic model as possible.

“I just wasn’t interested in doing a story that way with this particular artist – this singular artist. I wanted to make a movie that I think Miles Davis would have wanted to star in… I didn’t want to attempt to be playing cute with the story, and say: this is a true story.”

To say that Don Cheadle had a lot of work on his hands for this Miles Davis film would likely be a major understatement. As mentioned, it was his directorial debut – a daunting task all by itself. On top of that particular burden, Cheadle plays the leading role of Miles Davis – a casting decision that was essentially pronounced by Miles’ nephew Vince Wilburn nearly a decade ago.

As if that was not enough pressure for the 51-year-old actor, he also served as screenwriter for the film as well as one of its producers.

The Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, starring and directed by Don Cheadle, is currently scheduled to premiere on April 1.

[Image Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]