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January 2009
HOTEL FOR DOGS | An Interview with Don Cheadle

An Interview with Don Cheadle
by Wilson Morales

January 13, 2009

For actors who do a lot of films, there’s that one genre that seems to allude them. It could be a romantic film, a horror film, or a family film. It may be have been by choice or maybe it was that the boat miss them. For Don Cheadle and all the films that he’s done, he hadn’t done a family film and now that he has two daughters, he wants something they can see him in. That where’s ‘Hotel for Dogs’ comes in.

‘Hotel for Dogs’ stars Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon and Don Cheadle in a smart, funny comedy adventure that shows how far love and imagination can take you. When their new guardians forbid 16-year old Andi (Roberts) and her younger brother, Bruce (Austin) to have a pet, Andi has to use her quick wit to help find a new home for their dog, Friday.

The resourceful kids stumble upon an abandoned hotel and using Bruce's talents as a mechanical genius, transform it into a magical dog-paradise for Friday – and eventually for all Friday's friends. When barking dogs make the neighbors suspicious, Andi and Bruce use every invention they have to avoid anyone discovering "who let the dogs in."

In speaking exclusively with Cheadle, he spoke about doing this film, working with the kids, and his upcoming projects which includes ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ with Wesley Snipes and ‘Iron Man 2’.

What was the attraction to doing this film?

Don Cheadle: It was an opportunity to do a film that my kids can see. I haven’t done a lot of those. I like the relationship that my character had with the kids in the movie. He was sort of a straight shooter with them and didn’t try to snow them about the truth. I like films where the adults and the kids have this kind of relationship. Too often we see where the adults are stupid and the kids know everything. It doesn’t strike me as being realistic, but this film was different.

How was working with Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin?

DC: It was great. There were really professional. They showed up to do the work and were serious and took itseriously and had acting coaches and everything. We also had a lot of fun on the set.

Do you own a dog?

DC: Yes. I own one and I hope my kids will enjoy this. I had not done this before. This sort of film was never presented in my direction.

What do you think families will get out of this when they take their kids to the film?

DC: Well, it’s an entertaining movie. It’s not heavy. There’s no message that we’re trying to put across that deep. It’s about family and finding family wherever it is. I think nowadays where there are blended families; this is a film about kids finding a family amongst themselves.

What role do you play?

DC: I play a character named Bernie who is a social worker who is trying to get these kids placed and it’s tough because they are older kids and that’s how it works in the system and they are brother and sister and I’m trying to keep them together. That’s also difficult to do in the system. I’m trying to impress on the kids that if they don’t play ball they will be broken up, so he’s trying to get them through this last part of being in a foster home.

You have several film projects coming up. Will you be attending the Sundance Film Festival for one of your films, ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’?

DC: I’m planning on it.

Whatis your role in that film?

DC: Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere, and myself play cops. We’re three cops on different paths and what they are trying to do and what they are doing with their lives and the police department.

How was it working with director Antoine Fuqua and Wesley Snipes on that film?

DC: We had a good time together. Wesley is a good dude and so is Antoine and we had fun working on this film.

Right around the same time we have the Presidential Inauguration for Barack Obama. Will you be attending that?

DC: No, I won’t be able to go to that. I will be here (at Sundance), but I will be watching it on TV.

Would you have wanted to go if you had the chance?

DC: Sure, but I think it will a bit of a zoo. If President-Elect Obama called and said, ‘Don, I gotta have you there’, then sure I would be there; but other than that, I will let the people hash it out and I’m going to stay here.

What’s happening with the Miles Davis project?

DC: I’m still working on the script and developing the project. Hopefully, we’ll be able to work on it some more after ‘Iron Man 2’ is over.

How excited are you to be on that project?

DC: I’ll get excited once I’m on the set.

Had you read the comic book and knew about Jim Rhodes/ War Machine prior to the first film?

DC: No. I had read comic books but that wasn’t one of them. I was into X-Men.

Do you see yourself as War Machine, if a spin-off film is made from the Iron Man franchise?

DC: No. I never saw myself as part of the project. It’s something that came along and fell on my lap after Terrence Howard fell out of the project. I got a call saying, ‘We want you to do this film’, and that’s how it all went down.

It’s interesting that a few years on the cover of Vanity Fair, you were standing to next to Samuel L. Jackson and now you may be working with him in this film if he reprises his role as Nick Fury.

DC: I don’t Sam is in ‘Iron Man 2’.

With ‘The Avengers’ coming a few years later, you have a lot on your plate.

DC: I don’t know how it is all going to go down. With ‘The Avengers’, it’s five movies that this franchise is looking forward to doing, but if they don’t perform well, there won’t be five movies. So we’ll see. I’m very careful about these things. Things can fall apart as soon as they are put together. Once I finish the film and it’s a wrap and they put it together, then I can say, ‘I was in ‘Iron Man 2’.

Now that it’s on DVD, how was working on ‘Traitor’?

DC: That was a difficult movie given the very brief amount of time we had to do it. It didn’t have a huge budget but it was a lot of work. It was rewarding to take something and develop it and get to a place where you can make a movie that people like.

What keeps you grounded when you are not working on films?

DC: My life is more about my family and my friends than the business. I have to work because it’s what I have chosen to do and it’s what I enjoy doing to a large degree, but it pales in comparison to what I get when I’m with my family and my friends.

Why should anyone go see ‘Hotel for Dogs’?

DC: I think it will be entertaining and if you like dogs, this is a film you should go see.



HOTEL FOR DOGS OPENS ON January 16, 2008

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