“Don Cheadle won the role of Miles Davis before he even knew he was being considered. In 2006, when Davis was posthumously being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Davis’s nephew, Vince Wilburn, told reporters that Cheadle was the guy to play the jazz genius. ”I had not been reaching out for this role in any way, shape or form,” says Cheadle. “There was a pronouncement made, I guess — a proclamation — that I was going to play his uncle in a movie.”
Ten years later, Miles Ahead is ready to open in theaters, and Cheadle not only stars as the raspy-voiced trumpet master, he also made his directorial debut. The film premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival and will open in theaters on April 1. Rather than a conventional cradle-to-grave music biopic, Cheadle built the narrative around Davis in 1979, a period of artistic paralysis.
Ewan McGregor plays a persistent journalist who intrudes on Davis’s privacy, but becomes his reluctant partner in crime when they have to retrieve a missing tape of valuable session music. Like Davis’s music, their adventure knows no boundaries, and the film flirts with the surreal. In flashbacks, Davis courts and obsesses over dancer Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi), and their romance has a major impact on his music.
In the exclusive trailer, Davis is a loose cannon: fighting, shooting guns, and behaving like a less than perfect husband. But this isn’t Walk the Line. As Davis says in the clip, “If you’re going to tell the story, come with some attitude, man.” This is a Miles Davis joint.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you discover Miles Davis?
DON CHEADLE: He was someone that my parents listened to. The music was in the house since I can remember, but I think at 10, when I started actually playing music, playing sax, is probably when I started paying more close attention to the kind of music and the construction of the music and the composition and all of those aspects of it…”