Miles Davis Inspired Don Cheadle To Learn Trumpet For New Biopic

The Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead, is standing out among other movies in the genre for more reasons than just the fact it focuses on Davis, who is a bit of an enigmatic presence. The Miles Davis movie is getting a ton of attention because of who the star, as well as who the director and the writer are, as well as just how long its taken to bring the story to the big screen.

Don Cheadle has been trying to get his version of the Miles Davis story into theaters for more than three years. Over the course of that time, the actor, who is wearing many hats for this project, has even seen the title of the flick change. Oddly enough, the story of Miles Davis isn’t all that original anymore, at least when it comes to the genre this month. We just saw Ethan Hawk’s Born to be Blue debut and now Miles Ahead is going to be going public. Don Cheadle will be taking on the role of Davis and will be directing himself, while also writing part of the story.

The story will look mostly at Miles Davis’ five year gap where he wasn’t actually recording any songs. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this was a period of time when the trumpet player was suffering from a degenerative hip disorder and drug addiction. Miles Davis largely stayed cooped up in his brownstone. Because he was a bit of a recluse for most of this part of his life, Don Cheadle finds that era of his career the most interesting.

Actors Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor attend the premiere of Sony Pictures Classics' 'Miles Ahead' at Writers Guild Theater on March 29, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
Cheadle has taken some liberties with the story, inserting a rock journalist in the form of Ewan McGregor into the mix. McGregor plays Dave Braden, and he and Cheadle’s Miles Davis even come to blows at one point. In order to become as real to the character as he could possibly get, Cheadle even says he decided he needed to learn how to play the trumpet. In a recent interview with ABC News, the actor talked about how this film was a labor of love on a number of different levels.

“It was important to me to learn how to play because at some point in my development, Miles was as bad as I am now. Maybe he was 8 or 9 years old.”

Cheadle added that for Miles Ahead he wanted to feel as though he was as close to the performer as he could get. He added he didn’t want his film to be a kind of “Vegas mimicry.” The House of Lies star told ABC News he wanted to understand the trumpet player as much as possible.

So just how long has the trek been for the actor? He says Miles Davis’ family picked him to play the musician way back in 2006 when the artist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Back then the family knew it wanted to do a movie on the musician’s life and they wanted the Hotel Rwanda star to take the lead. At the time, there was no indication he would be directing and helping to write the picture.

Directing himself, the entertainer said wasn’t nearly as hard as he thought it was going to be. Helming the picture behind the camera and taking on the role of Miles Davis in front of the camera was quite a bit easier than giving other actors directions. The Miles Davis biopic starring Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead, opened in limited release on Friday.

[Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images]