Don Cheadle has said that he was initially reluctant to play jazz great Miles Davis in the forthcoming biopic, Miles Ahead.
The movie, which is in cinemas on April 22, focuses on Davis' five-year break from the music business and took 10 years to make.
In an interview with The Guardian, Cheadle, who also directed the film, says that he ended up playing the lead role after Davis' nephew suggested him in an interview.
“Miles was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” says Cheadle. “They were interviewing his nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr. They asked if they were ever going to make a movie of his life, and he said, ‘Yeah. And Don Cheadle’s gonna play him.’
"That started people calling: ‘Oh, what’s this about the Miles Davis movie you’re doing?’ ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ I’d say. ‘I guess if they call me or let me know, there will be something to talk about.’”
Cheadle says he was reluctant to play another real-life character. His best-known roles - in Hotel Rwanda, The Rat Pack and Talk To Me - were based on real people.
“I’ve played these guys, and I wanted to play someone close to me, who’s modern. So I wasn’t looking for it. In fact, I didn’t want to do it.”
The production encountered many obstacles, financial and otherwise, along the way. On touting the project, the Miles story idea was essentially deemed too niche, without the caper elements which were eventually introduced.
Ewan McGregor’s arrival into the process made a huge difference in terms of doors opening and financing. McGregor plays the fictional Rolling Stone journalist Dave Braden, who interviews Davis and then gets involved in a search for stolen session tapes worth millions of dollars.
The finished film was ultimately funded by a patchwork of sources.“We crowdfunded via Indiegogo, deferred payment, I put money in myself, “ says Cheadle. "My other producer’s friend put money in. It was just like that kind of a situation.”
The film was written by Nixon screenwriters Stephen J Rivele and Chris Wilkinson. Cheadle produced the film through his company, Crescendo Productions.