Unperturbed at the news that a rival biopic is being developed by George Tilman Jr, Don Cheadle has revealed to the Wall Street Journal that his own long-developing Miles Davis movie is still very much a going concern. "If the world is ready to have two Miles Davis movies, fantastic," he says. "He should have eight or ten of them."
Cheadle says that rather than the conventional Walk The Line / Ray approach that his rivals have adopted (based on Dark Magus, the biography by Davis' son Gregory), his is a more "cubist" take on the legendary jazz trumpeter. By which we assume he means Davis will be viewed and examined from a multitude of viewpoints to give a better understanding of his character, rather than that Davis will be presented with his face on the back of his head for the entire film.
"We're trying to shuffle it, without throwing history away," Cheadle explains. "It's not a biopic, per se. It's a gangster pic. It's a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in."
The involvement of Davis' own family in the Dark Magus project is also not necessarily a problem, Cheadle believes, since, "We're working with the family [too] and we have all the music we need. [The other film covers] another period of music, about three or four years, and these estates are sometimes bifurcated. I don't think anyone's going to be making the kind of movie we're making. The bulk of it takes place in 1979, in a period where he actually wasn't playing. We traverse a lot of his life, but it's not a cradle to grave story."
Already long in development, Cheadle says he and his producing partners do now have a studio offer, and are trying to crunch the numbers for the profferred budget. "This is the kind of movie the business ten years ago may have leapt at," he laments. "Now, you don't really see movies like this, and we're trying to back into a budget number, like we always have to do, without gutting the piece."
He's confident enough to have already picked up the trumpet though. "It's the new love of my life right now," he enthuses. "I had this kind of kinesthetic feel for the trumpet. I could play it pretty quickly, though not proficiently, which is weird because it's an unforgiving, mean instrument."