Exclusive: Don Cheadle Talks Avengers: Infinity WarPosted by Blackfilm.com correspondent Corey Grant
April 25, 2018
If being at THE AVENGERS INFINITY WAR press conference, surrounded by Marvel’s finest superheroes wasn’t enough of a gift in itself, sitting down with Don Cheadle for a one-on-one interview certainly took the cake.
Cast members for Avengers: Infinity War so far include Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scalett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Don Cheadle, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Sean Gunn, Tom Holland, Josh Brolin, and Paul Rudd.
An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
Oscar nominated Don Cheadle, has been a member of the Marvel universe since the release of IRON MAN 2 in 2010 after he replaced Terrence Howard as Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Naturally, Cheadle offers a unique perspective as he’s watched the universe expand quite literally, right around him.
Outside of his contributions to Marvel, Mr. Cheadle’s ever expanding resume as both actor and producer is nothing short of incredible and diverse. With that in mind, my thoughts went to his role in INFINITY WAR as WAR MACHINE. We’ve seen him play comedy, drama, sci- fi, action and more. And, it seems that everything he touches turns to gold, which will no doubt happen as he reprises his character in Avengers: Infinity Wars.
Why does Don Cheadle choose the roles he chooses and how does he always manage to get so lucky?
Once I stepped into the room and was warmly greeted by Don Cheadle himself, I began to immediately get a sense of why he works as well and as often as he does. He was likable but straight to the point. He had an easy laugh and was very receptive to my questions and even open to hear one of the theories I’d come up with regarding his career. I’ll get into that in a moment.
But as I took a seat opposite Mr. WAR MACHINE himself, his energy was peaceful, calming even. And in between my questions, he offered funny yet personal stories that led him on his current career path. The back and forth made the interview fill collaborative, much like I’d imagine him to be on set in the midst of dozens of other superheroes, carving their space in the Marvel Universe.
Every ten years you have had roles that started various, pivotal moments in your career. From Colors in 1984, move ten years later, we have Mouse in Devil in a Blue Dress. Ten years later we have Paul in Hotel Rowanda and my favorite movie Crash were you played Detective Waters. Now ten years after that, we now have you as Rhoadey in the Avengers Franchise. What can we expect from Rhodey in Avenger’s Infinity War?
Don Cheadle: What I think is really great about having something like this to anchor a lot of the other things that are happening in the story, and getting to continue it forward through both of the films, is that we always get to have these sort of down notes — in a good way. I think there’s always a lot of eye candy, and very dramatic things happening, and big spectacular fights, and really amazing things that we see on screen. And then it comes down to these characters, and their interpersonal situations with one another, and their personal journeys that they have.
Where it comes to Rhodey, I’m glad that this is something that’s carried through, and wasn’t just dropped. It’s a line that actually goes through both of the films, and comes into play in a very important way — I won’t give it away, but it’s something that factors in all the way through. It’s nice to have something that’s cohesive and continues, and keeps me grounded and keeps the character grounded.
Growing up in the Midwest, to parents who were academics, when did you discover that you wanted to be an artist and did it pose a conflict with your parents?
Don Cheadle: No man, I knew at an early age that I wanted to be an actor. Fortunately, my parents were supportive. They actually drove me down here all the way from Kansas City to attend Cal Arts And then when I got to campus and had options and signs reading swimming pool (swimwear optional) they looked at each other like, “Oh, so that’s what this is all about. “(laughs)
When did you realize that acting was actually attainable for you as a profession?
Don Cheadle: Tuesday. (laughs) You work as a actor, then you’re unemployed and the cycle repeats. I never looked back and marveled at the work or became comfortable, but when your kids, get a certain age, you pay off the house and things of that nature, you then start to say, yeah. So then you can take your time and pick the work you want to do.
Don is one of a select few actors that have been fortunate, to simply being looked at as actor and not just a “black actor”. He and contemporaries like Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Morgan Freeman, have such broad resumes as actors in various genres and stories, that they have never been pigeon holed. Don’s roles have simply been defined by the character he plays not the race. Whether it be his roles in Mission to Mars, Boogie Nights, or even Flight, his nuanced performances have consistently resonated with audience for over thirty years.
What early obstacles, as a black actor did you come across and how did you deal with it?
Don Cheadle: I can’t recall a time that I did not receive a role because I was black. I take that back. Yes I did. It was this one role I went out for a commercial. It was a spot where I’m on the phone calling them and giving some crazy excuse as to why I was flunking out of school. It was funny. They really liked me. I nailed it. Even told me I had the job. So I get back to my dorm hallway and I hear the community phone ring. Don’t ask me how, but somehow I knew it was for me. I picked it up and sure enough, it was my manager and she said, “Hey Don, I’m so sorry. They really loved you but they didn’t want to give you the spot because they didn’t want to depict a black man flunking out of school in that light.” Now I can understand that, but the broke student that I am, I’m saying NO it’s ok. I’d love to play the flunk out. I needed that job. That’s the one time that I can remember specifically not getting a role because I was black.
As a actor how do you choose what roles to accept?
Don Cheadle: Well, in the beginning you tend to take everything. And then as you get further along in your career, you pick and choose what roles you want to accept. I don’t ever want to walk down the street and be embarrassed by or have to explain a role I’ve taken. And I produce a lot of the projects I’m involved with so it doesn’t just stop after productions over. I see a lot of these projects all the way through.