Don Cheadle: Down with Don

Don Cheadle: Down with Don


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 After making 40-something films, if there’s anything I haven’t

revealed yet, it’s probably best kept under wraps



Don Cheadle Down with Don

The ”Brooklyn’s Finest” Interview with  Kam Williams


Donald Cheadle might be the best actor around yet to win an Oscar. His only Academy Award nomination came in 2005 for his powerful performance as Paul Rusesbagina in Hotel Rwanda. But he’s been delivering an abundance of critically-acclaimed work both before and since in such films as Devil in a Blue Dress Boogie Nights, Rosewood, Ocean’s Eleven, Crash, Traffic, Swordfish, Talk to Me, Mission to Mars, Traitor, Rush Hour 2, Bulworth, and Reign over Me.

In this spirited tete-a-tete, Don talks about his latest outing as NYPD Detective Tango Butler in Brooklyn’s Finest, a gritty cop saga directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-starring Wesley Snipes, Richard Gere, Ellen Barkin and Ethan Hawke. 

Kam Williams: Hi, Don, thanks for the time.

Don Cheadle: Thank you.

Kam Williams: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, how did you prepare for this role as an undercover detective?

Don Cheadle: I spent some time with several police officers who are actually doing the same type of work in Brooklyn.  

Kam Williams: Citing the maxim ”Great actors do not act, they show their true selves to the camera,” Irene asks whether there are any parts of your psyche you have not yet explored on camera?

Don Cheadle: After making 40-something films, if there’s anything I haven’t revealed yet, it’s probably best kept under wraps.   

Kam Williams: Laz Lyles was wondering whether the energy on the set of Brooklyn’s Finest was similar to working with the large ensemble of talented actors in Ocean’s Eleven?

Don Cheadle: No, this was a very different experience.

Kam Williams: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says she appreciates all your humanitarian efforts as much as she does your acting. And she suspects that your choice of charities has been influenced by the locations where you’ve shot movies, given all you’ve done for Darfur and Rwanda. So, she was hoping you might be interested in supporting her charity in East New York, Brooklyn which is dedicated to early educational opportunities for young African-American males under the age of 5.

Don Cheadle: There are only 24 hours in the day, but I’d love to get involved, my schedule permitting.

Kam Williams: Nick Antoine wants to know if there’s any truth to the rumor that you’re planning to do a Miles Davis bio-pic.

Don Cheadle: Yep, I’m working on it now.

Kam Williams: Is it true that you’ve done standup comedy?

Don Cheadle: Yes, but not anymore.

Kam Williams: Is it true that you play the saxophone?

Don Cheadle: Yes, but I’m playing the trumpet now?

Kam Williams: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod? 

Don Cheadle: Miles Davis.

Kam Williams: I know who your favorite trumpeter is. How about saxophonist?

Don Cheadle:: Coltrane.

Kam Williams: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

Don Cheadle: Miles Davis’ autobiography collaborated on with Quincy Troupe.

Kam Williams: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Don Cheadle: The same guy I see every day.

Kam Williams: The Zane question: Do you have any regrets?

Don Cheadle: In life? Of course!

Kam Williams: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan’s question: Where in L.A. do you live?

Don Cheadle: I’d rather not say.

Kam Williams: What is your favorite dish to cook?

Don Cheadle: Whatever my kids want to eat.

Kam Williams: What are you’re favorite foods to eat?

Don Cheadle: Comfort foods… macaroni and cheese, and meat loaf.

Kam Williams: The Mike Pittman question: Who was your best friend as a child?

Don Cheadle: My siblings and my cousins.

Kam Williams: The Uduak Oduak question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

Don Cheadle: Boss.

Kam Williams: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Don Cheadle: Don’t.

Kam Williams: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

Don Cheadle: That the world would take the issue of global warming seriously.

Kam Williams: Thanks again for the interview, Don, and best of luck with the film.

Don Cheadle: Thank you.

To see a trailer for Brooklyn’s Finest, visit:

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Donald Frank “Don” Cheadle, Jr. (born November 29, 1964) is an American actor, film producer, philanthropist, and author. Cheadle rose to prominence in the late 1990s and the early 2000s for his supporting roles in the Steven Soderbergh-directed films Out of Sight, Traffic, and Ocean’s Eleven. In 2004, his lead role as Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He also campaigns for the end of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and co-authored a book concerning the issue titled Not On Our Watch: The Mission To End Genocide In Darfur And Beyond. . . .

At the 2007 World Series of Poker, Cheadle and poker player Annie Duke organized a charity poker tournament, “Ante Up for Africa”. Many Hollywood actors were expected to play in the tournament, which had a $5,000 buy-in. Money finishers were encouraged to donate part of their winnings to The International Rescue Committee or the Enough Project.[13]

In 2007, Cheadle was awarded the BET Humanitarian award of the year for his numerous humanitarian services he rendered for the cause of the people of Darfur and Rwanda.

On December 13, 2007, Cheadle and fellow actor George Clooney were presented with the Summit Peace Award by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome for their work to stop the genocide and relieve the suffering of the people of Darfur. The award was presented by the World Summit of Nobel Laureates, Mikhail Gorbachev, and

In 2008, Cheadle’s family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test shows that he may have ancestry in present day Cameroon.

In early 2009, Cheadle embarked on a new endeavor in automotive retail; He announced that he plans to open Don Cheadle Chevrolet. He will co-manage the dealership, which will specialize in hybrid and alternative energy vehicles, with a childhood friend. Wikipedia

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An action film rich with politics, espionage, and complicated characters, Traitor is an engrossing film in which the lines between right and wrong are anything but clear and the threats of terrorism and conspiracy across the globe seem startlingly real. Sadim Horn (Don Cheadle) is a devout Muslim, once trained and employed in engineering and explosives by American Special Forces, who has chosen to settle in Afghanistan. FBI agents Clayton (Guy Pearce) and Archer (Neal McDonough) begin investigating an uncooperative Sadim in an Afghanistan prison because of his connections with terrorist Omar (Saїd Taghmaoui) and, as events unfold, uncover ties between Sadim and several international bombing incidents. As agents Clayton and Archer follow Sadim around the world, Sadim’s dedication to his faith becomes abundantly clear, as does his involvement in an international bombing conspiracy. What’s less than clear in all the contradictory evidence is the nature of Sadim’s role in the conspiracy—specifically, which side he’s really fighting for. . . . Tami Horiuchi

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posted 17 March 2010



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