Born November 29, 1964
I think Don Cheadle is a great actor. When he’s attached to a film, I make a point of seeing it. He brings charisma and intensity to his roles that make him absolutely enthralling to watch on screen. I remember when I first saw Cheadle in a film. It was in Boogie Nights. That film showcased the talent of so many great actors in what was a formidable ensemble cast, and with Don Cheadle, it made me sit up and ask, “Who is this guy?”
Before Boogie Nights, Cheadle had several guest starring roles in a variety of television shows including The Golden Palace (the short-lived Golden Girls spin-off) and Picket Fences. Though Boogie Nights was the first film I saw Don Cheadle in, it was not his breakthrough film. His breakout role was opposite Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress. So good was his performance that many thought that an Oscar nomination was inevitable, but it didn’t happen for that role. Instead, Cheadle garnered much interest and began working a lot and nabbed roles in some impressive films.
In Out of Sight, he teamed with Steven Soderbergh in the first of several ensemble films that they would make together. Cheadle played bad so very, very well and delivered some hilarious lines as Maurice “Snoopy” Miller like, “The man don't just have to die, Foley. I mean, he could accidentally hurt himself falling down on something real hard, you know. Like a shiv, or my dick.”
Cheadle became somewhat of a fixture for Soderbergh after Out of Sight and one of his stand-out roles was as a federal drug agent in the director’s unflinching and powerful film Traffic, which traces the drug trafficking ring in North America through several parallel stories. Later on, he was cast alongside George Clooney, Brad Pitt et al in the highly-successful and entertaining Ocean’s Eleven heist film series based on the classic Rat Pat film. Cheadle got a lot of guff for butchering the London accent he used in the film, but he was a welcome addition to the great ensemble cast nonetheless.
The Ocean’s Eleven series wasn’t Cheadle’s first connection to the Rat Pat. Prior to appearing in that film series, Cheadle delivered an outstanding performance as Sammy Davis Jr. in the HBO film The Rat Pat. Cheadle nailed Davis’ affable showmanship and intensive, high-energy tap dancing moves to deliver an uncanny portrayal of the late entertainer. Cheadle was rewarded with a Golden Globe for his performance.
A few years later, Cheadle nabbed a richly-deserved Oscar nomination for his role as Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager whose hotel becomes a refugee camp after warfare erupts between the two classes of native Rwandans – the Tutsis and the Hutu - when the president is assassinated. Cheadle absolutely sunk his teeth into this role to deliver what is by far his most passionate and empathetic performance. The material demanded it and Cheadle proved that he was up to the task and then some.
Up next for Cheadle is the new Showtime comedy series House of Lies, in which he will play a cutthroat management consultant who will use whatever means necessary to give his clients the information they want. I don’t know about you, but the new series had me at Don Cheadle.