Don Cheadle on Realities of Hollywood: Miles Davis Biopic Needed a White Co-Star to Get Off the Ground
Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle told reporters at the Berlin International Film Festival that he needed a white co-star for his passion project on Miles Davis to appeal to foreign markets.
It is “one of the realities of the business that we are in,” he said, that films with all-Black casts are thought to have little chance of distribution outside the United States and don’t attract investment.
Cheadle dreamed of telling Davis’ story, so he went to Indiegogo to fund the film. The successful campaign raised about $360,000, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Cheadle plays the lead role in Miles Ahead, and also writes and directs the film. His honesty about the business behind filmmaking adds an interesting angle to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
He implies that Hollywood refuses to produce “Black” films because the world is a racist place and movies with Black people don’t make money. However, that way of thinking has been trumped because of films like Creed and Straight Outta Compton. But those films have a common element: a white co-star. They also had high-profile white actors like Paul Giamatti and Sylvester Stallone.
“There is a lot of apocryphal, not proven evidence that Black films don’t sell overseas … I think it works great, and particularly the fact that Ewan McGregor is the actor who is in it, I think he is fantastic in the movie. But that was a component of … allowing us to even have a budget to get the film made, ” Cheadle explains.
Miles Ahead focuses on the later years of Davis’ career. By the 1970s, Davis is addicted to cocaine and his music is not selling as well as in years past.
McGregor will play a shady Rolling Stone reporter who gets stonewalled when he tries to convince Davis to give him a lengthy interview. But he eventually gains the star’s trust when he helps him recover a tape of new material stolen by a hoodlum, according to AFP News Agency.
The film is currently screening at the Berlin International Film Festival until Sunday.