First Look At Don Cheadle As Miles Davis In ‘Miles Ahead’
First Look At Don Cheadle As Miles Davis
Posted by Wilson Morales
July 7, 2014
Written by Steve Baigelman and Cheadle, ‘Miles Ahead’ tracks a few dangerous days in Davis’ life as he emerged from a silent period to conspire with Rolling Stone writer Dave Brill (played by Ewan McGregor) to steal back his music.
Also included in the film are Emayatzy Corinealdi as Frances Taylor, Miles Davis’ first wife; and Short Term 12’s Keith Stanfield as Junior, a trumpet player who was involved in the theft.
Cheadle co-wrote the script with Steven Baigelman, and he’s also producing with his Crescendo partner Lenore Zerman and BiFrost’s Daniel Wagner and Robert Ogden Barnum, as well as Darryl Porter and Vince Wilburn Jr. Baigelman and Cassian Elwes will executive produce with Pamela Hirsch, Cheryl Davis and Erin Davis, while musician Herbie Hancock, who collaborated with Davis, will also be involved as music supervisor.
How does it feel to finally begin production on Miles Ahead—to be in costume and begin this process?
DON CHEADLE: It’s a great shot; it’s kinda cool, huh? I attribute that to my department to more than anything I’m doing: That’s hair, makeup, wardrobe, and props. But it’s cool to be sitting on it and have it all begin. At this point, with everything that’s happening, its real and surreal and hyperreal and every version of it that I can think of.
There’s a sense you’ve been working on this for a while. Tell me about your exposure to Miles Davis—was he someone you were exposed to at a young age?
DC: His music was definitely a part of my life very early on, thanks to my parents. And I was fortunate when I was young to have music teachers in school that also introduced us to jazz in general. I was maybe 10, in fifth grade, when I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the sax at a school which had instruments because we couldn’t afford one. So I started playing sax, and was really a fan of Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderly. And through Cannonball I found Miles.
Are you going to focus on one particular aspect of his life or time period? You mentioned that to do a biopic, you’d have to create something that’s hours and hours long.
Well, the construction of the movie is the parallel story of Miles in 1979 at the end of this quiet period he was in, the five-year stretch of time when he wasn’t playing and performing and recording, juxtaposed against the 10-year period where he was with Francis Taylor Davis, who, at the time, was the love of his life and his muse.
A family’s involvement can really make or break a project like this, especially when it comes to the music rights.
It absolutely does. We wouldn’t have been able to use the music we’re using if the estate hadn’t signed on and hadn’t been on board. We’re working with Sony and Columbia and the family and between the agreements of that triumvirate, we’re able to use the music of his life, during the Columbia years.