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Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 29, 1964 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kansas City, Missouri, USA Profession: actor, musician, playwright, screenwriter, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Absolutely engaging and immensely talented, actor Don Cheadle rightfully earned his reputation as one of his generationâ¿¿s most versatile and committed performers. After years of thankless guest appearances on TV dramas and sitcoms, Cheadle gained attention with the role of the fastidious hotel manager of "The Golden Palace" (CBS, 1992-93), a spin-off from the beloved sitcom, "The Golden Girls" (CBS, 1985-1992). The chameleon-like Cheadle broke out with an acclaimed performance in Carl Franklin's crime thriller "Devil in a Blue Dress" (1995) and continued the streak with remarkable work in highly-lauded films like "Boogie Nights" (1997) and "Out of Sight" (1998). He officially made Hollywoodâ¿¿s A-list as one of Danny Oceanâ¿¿s crack team of con men in Steven Soderberghâ¿¿s "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), but it was his performance as real-life hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in "Hotel Rwanda" (2004) that earned Cheadle the most effusive critical praise of his career. He played an integral role in the Oscar-winning ensemble drama "Crash" (2005) prior to turning in a tour de force performance in the radio DJ biopic "Talk to Me" (2007). In addition to the hugely successful sequels to "Oceanâ¿¿s Eleven," the...

Absolutely engaging and immensely talented, actor Don Cheadle rightfully earned his reputation as one of his generationâ¿¿s most versatile and committed performers. After years of thankless guest appearances on TV dramas and sitcoms, Cheadle gained attention with the role of the fastidious hotel manager of "The Golden Palace" (CBS, 1992-93), a spin-off from the beloved sitcom, "The Golden Girls" (CBS, 1985-1992). The chameleon-like Cheadle broke out with an acclaimed performance in Carl Franklin's crime thriller "Devil in a Blue Dress" (1995) and continued the streak with remarkable work in highly-lauded films like "Boogie Nights" (1997) and "Out of Sight" (1998). He officially made Hollywoodâ¿¿s A-list as one of Danny Oceanâ¿¿s crack team of con men in Steven Soderberghâ¿¿s "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), but it was his performance as real-life hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in "Hotel Rwanda" (2004) that earned Cheadle the most effusive critical praise of his career. He played an integral role in the Oscar-winning ensemble drama "Crash" (2005) prior to turning in a tour de force performance in the radio DJ biopic "Talk to Me" (2007). In addition to the hugely successful sequels to "Oceanâ¿¿s Eleven," the actor was frequently seen in such big-budget productions as the superhero blockbuster sequel "Iron Man 2" (2010). He later returned to television as the star of the highly-regarded cable comedy "House of Lies" (Showtime, 2012- ). Cheadleâ¿¿s ability to virtually disappear into any role kept him at the very top of Hollywoodâ¿¿s list of "go to" actors.

Cheadle was born on Nov. 29, 1964 in Kansas City, MO, but was raised in Lincoln, NE and Denver, CO. His father, Donald, was a child psychologist and his mother, Betty, was a bank manager, providing the Cheadle brood with a comfortable upbringing. Catching the acting bug at 10 years old, the fledgling actor took drama classes at East High School in Denver, before further developing his craft at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. While he was earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, Cheadle began a recurring role on the hit show "Fame" (NBC, 1982-87). Following his graduation, he made his feature film debut in a bit part in the urban comedy, "Moving Violations" (1985). After a turn as an Army private in John Irvin's grim anti-war drama "Hamburger Hill" (1987), a true story about the bloody Vietnam battle for Hill 937 that resulted in a hollow American victory, he landed a pivotal turn as a volatile gang leader in the inner city drama "Colors" (1988).

After small roles in "Roadside Prophets" (1992) and "The Meteor Man" (1993), Cheadle was tapped by Carl Franklin for a star-making turn in the director's deft neo-noir "Devil in a Blue Dress" (1995). As Mouse, a trigger-happy old acquaintance of detective Easy Rawlings (Denzel Washington), Cheadle stole every scene, winning awards from critics' groups â¿¿ though an expected Oscar nod failed to materialize. Cheadle went on to deliver strong performances in several higher-profile features, playing a Harlem basketball star who career is sidelined by drugs in "Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault" (HBO, 1996); the town resident willing to stand his ground against racists in the underrated "Rosewood" (1997); and a porn star with dreams of owning a stereo equipment store in Paul Thomas Anderson's excellent "Boogie Nights." He ripped the acting rug out from under his co-star and director, Warren Beatty, in "Bulworth" (1998), playing a Rolaids-popping entrepreneurial gang leader out to get a delirious senator (Betty) trying to win reelection while suffering a nervous breakdown. Cheadle was both deftly comic and chillingly ruthless opposite George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez as cunning ex-con Maurice 'Snoopy' Miller in director Steven Soderbergh's stylish and sexy crime caper, "Out of Sight," widely considered to be the first successful adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel.

On a role, Cheadle next earned an Emmy nod for his depiction of Sammy Davis, Jr. in the 1998 HBO biopic, "The Rat Pack" and for playing a teacher attempting to reach a death row prisoner in the beautifully realized "A Lesson Before Dying" (HBO, 1999). In 2000, after supporting roles in "Mission to Mars" and "The Family Man," Cheadle reunited with Soderbergh to play vice cop Montel Gordon in the multi-plot, Academy Award-winning drug opus, "Traffic," a stunning film that told three parallel stories depicting various aspects of America's failed war on drugs.

After being cast by Clooney for the live broadcast of "Fail Safe," Cheadle appeared in the all-star ensemble of Soderbergh's blockbuster remake "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), playing the over-the-top, Cockney thief Basher Tarr. He made thankless supporting stints in "Swordfish" and "Rush Hour 2" in 2001, before appearing the following year in a four-episode guest shot on the hit NBC medical drama "ER" (NBC, 2004-09), starring as Paul Nathan, an idealistic medical student who insists on completing a surgical internship even though he suffers from occasionally debilitating Parkinson's disease. In the indie film "The United States of Leland" (2003), Cheadle portrayed aspiring writer and prison teacher Pearl Madison, enthralled by the murderous history of a soft-spoken young man. In the diverting caper, "After the Sunset" (2004), he was an American expatriate turned Caribbean vice king trying to employ retired thief Pierce Brosnan to help bring vice to the underprivileged masses.

After a second, disappointing go-round with Clooney and company in "Ocean's Twelve" (2004), Cheadle moved center stage and received the best reviews of his career when he starred in "Hotel Rwanda" (2004) as real-life hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, a man who saved the lives of 1,200 Rwandans during a tribal massacre in 1994. The actor created a character that was noble, resourceful and crafty, yet he balanced his performance with the right amount of fear and concern. His powerful turn stood on the top of what most critics listed as one of the best performances of 2004. Driving home that point, Cheadle earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Actor. On the heels of that triumph, he also delivered a well-etched supporting performance as the hardworking but struggling mechanic Bonny, one of Sean Penn's few remaining friends, in the alienation drama "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" (2004).

In yet another Oscar-worthy performance, he was at the center of the top-flight acting ensemble of the thought-provoking, multi-plot drama "Crash" (2005), starring as a Los Angeles police detective contending with various issues of racial prejudice. Cheadle also served as a producer on the film and recruited many members of the cast, all of which helped lead the film to win the Best Motion Picture Oscar that year. At the same time the film was cleaning up at awards shows, Cheadle was locked in to serve as a co-executive producer of a television version of "Crash," also written and directed by the film's director, Paul Haggis. Prior to filming the pilot, Cheadle was considering joining the cast and directing a few episodes.

Turning instead to his activist side, Cheadle narrated the documentary "King Leopold's Ghost" (2006), a look at the exploitation of the Congo by Belgium's King Leopold II from 1885-1908. As the sole owner of the corporate Congo Free State, Leopold enslaved millions of Africans and perpetrated a genocide that claimed upwards of 10 million people in his extraction of rubber and ivory. Cheadle then costarred opposite Adam Sandler in "Reign Over Me" (2007), playing Alan, a successful dentist â¿¿ complete with a beautiful wife (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and children â¿¿ who runs into his former college roommate, Charlie (Sandler), and is shocked to see his once-gregarious friend depressed. He learns that Charlie lost his family on 9/11 and hasn't been the same since, while Alan has been overwhelmed by his life's responsibilities. Meanwhile, Cheadle reprised Basher Tarr for "Ocean's 13" (2007), a vast improvement over the first sequel that depicted the happy-go-lucky thieves looking for revenge against a ruthless Las Vegas casino owner (Al Pacino).

Also in 2007, Cheadle earned critical adulation, as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor, for his portrayal of real life ex-con-turned-radio and television host, Ralph "Petey" Greene, in the dramedy "Talk to Me." He next starred in the conspiracy thriller "Traitor" (2008), playing a shadowy former government agent who becomes the target for a dogged FBI agent (Guy Pearce) investigating several major international crimes, including a prison break and terrorist bombing. After a supporting role as a sympathetic social worker in the family-friendly "Hotel for Dogs" (2009), Cheadle joined Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Wesley Snipes for Antoine Fuqua's crime drama, "Brooklyn's Finest" (2009), playing an undercover narcotics agent looking to get out of the job. Meanwhile, he took over the role of Colonel James Rhodes from a disgruntled Terrence Howard on the mega-successful sequel "Iron Man 2" (2010), which told the continuing adventure of billionaire weapons inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), who battles arch-nemesis, Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), and rival manufacturer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell).

Although far more modestly budgeted than "Iron Man 2," Cheadleâ¿¿s next film, the U.K.-produced crime comedy "The Guard" (2011), allowed the actor sink his teeth into a more nuanced role as an uptight FBI agent investigating a drug ring alongside Brendon Gleeson as a highly-combustible Irish policeman. The following year, Cheadle took on a starring role on the comedy series "House of Lies" (Showtime, 2012- ), a biting satire focusing on a high-powered Los Angeles-based management consultancy firm. Cheadle immediately garnered rave reviews for his intensely charismatic portrayal of Marty Kaan, the firmâ¿¿s cutthroat junior partner, willing to go to any extreme to secure whatever inside information his clients require. The role earned Cheadle much-deserved award recognition, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy series. Between seasons of the series, Cheadle appeared in the Robert Zemeckis drama "Flight" (2012) before reprising his role as Col. Rhodes in the hit sequel "Iron Man 3" (2013).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Miles Ahead (2015)

CAST: (feature film)

1.
4.
 Miles Ahead (2015)
5.
 Iron Man 3 (2013)
6.
 Source, La (2012)
7.
 Source, La (2012)
8.
 Flight (2012)
9.
 Kingdom Come (2012)
10.
 Guard, The (2011)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Kansas City, MO
:
Raised in Lincoln, NE and Denver, CO
:
Had first acting role in a fifth grade production of "Charlotte's Web"; cast as the rat Templeton
1985:
Feature film debut, "Moving Violations"
:
Acted with the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, MN and with the New York Shakespeare Festival in NYC's Central Park
1987:
TV debut, guest shot on "Hill Street Blues" (NBC)
1988:
Played pivotal role of Rocket, a murderous gang member, in the drama "Colors"
1991:
Starred and co-wrote the theme for the unsold NBC comedy pilot "In the House"
1992:
TV series debut as the overly competent hotel manager in "The Golden Palace," the CBS spin-off of "The Golden Girls"
1993:
Played recurring role of Bennie on "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" (ABC)
1993:
Played district attorney Jonathan Littleton on the CBS drama series "Picket Fences"
1995:
Breakthrough role as Mouse, the psychopathic sidekick to Denzel Washington's Easy Rawlings in "Devil in a Blue Dress"
1997:
Co-starred in John Singleton's underrated "Rosewood" as a piano teacher who stands up to racists
1997:
Appeared as porn star Buck Swope in "Boogie Nights"
1998:
Had featured role of L.D., a moralist gang leader, in "Bulworth"
1998:
Cast as Sammy Davis Jr in the HBO movie "The Rat Pack"; received Emmy nomination
1998:
Played Snoopy, a psychopathic killer in Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight," co- starring George Clooney
1999:
Starred in the HBO adaptation of "A Lesson Before Dying"; received Emmy nomination
2000:
Reteamed with Soderbergh to play a DEA agent in "Traffic"
2000:
Wrote and directed the digital film "The Jesse Borr Story"
2001:
Portrayed the manager-lover of a troubled rock singer in "Things Behind the Sun"; screened at Sundance
2001:
Acted opposite Jeffery Wright in Suzan-Lori Parks' off-Broadway drama, "Topdog/Underdog"; was unable to recreate role on Broadway in 2002 due to scheduling conflicts
2001:
Again collaborated with Clooney and Soderbergh for the "Ocean's Eleven" remake
2002:
Had a recurring role on the NBC drama "ER" as Paul Nathan, a med student who suffers from Parkinson's disease; received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (2003)
2003:
Received Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for <i>Fear Itself</i>
2004:
Reunited with original cast for "Ocean's Twelve" again directed by Steven Soderbergh
2004:
Portrayed Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsis refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Terry George's "Hotel Rwanda"; received a Golden Globe, SAG and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor
2004:
Cast opposite Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Jack Thompson in "The Assassination of Richard Nixon"
2005:
Produced and starred in Paul Haggis' directorial debut "Crash," a multicharacter study of L.A. race relations; earned a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actor
2007:
Re-teamed with the original cast for "Ocean's 13"
2007:
Portrayed Ralph 'Petey' Greene, a real-life ex-con-turned-radio and TV host in "Talk to Me"; earned an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Actor
2009:
Co-starred in "Hotel for Dogs," a film adaptation of the Lois Duncan novel of the same name
2010:
Cast in Antoine Fuqua's "Brooklyn's Finest"
2010:
Replaced Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes, best friend to Downey's Tony Stark for "Iron Man 2"
2012:
Cast as a highly successful and cutthroat management consultant on Showtime series "House of Lies"
2012:
Co-starred with Denzel Washington in "Flight"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

California Institute of the Arts: Valencia , California - 1986

Notes

"Now that I know how [the Oscar nominees] get picked, and how the selection process works, I could give a fuck if I never get one. I mean it would be nice because your money goes up, and it shows appreciation on a wide level, but what does my performance have to do with the political lobbying and machinations that go on inside the Academy that I am not privy to? If I never get an Oscar, it doesn't mean anything about my work. It's enough to me that everyone's saying, 'Damn . . . they passed you up'"---Don Cheadle on not receiving a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in "Devil in a Blue Dress" quoted in Premiere, April 1997.

Cheadle founded Elemental Prose, a company of artists with the goal of preserving oral histories through words and music.

"I'm glad that people try to write roles that anyone can do, but I also don't ever want to end up in movies where the fact that I'm a black man is a nonissue. In America, it's always an issue."---Cheadle quoted in Interview, August 1997.

"Don is one of those actors who is so intense that if the other actors are not up for a scene, they're going to get smoked. It's not like he's Mr. Thespian, but you have to be ready. He's very generous with other actors, It you mention him to other actors, their eyes light up."---Stephen Soderbergh, who directed Cheadle in "Out of Sight", to The New York Times, May 16, 1999.

"I just want to continue to do diverse characters, because that's what's fun for me. It's not necessarily what's star-making, but as long as I can make a career out of it, that's what I'll be doing."---Cheadle quoted in Time Out New York, May 14-21, 1998.

"He's a character actor, but so is Dustin Hoffman. He will carry a movie. He has those serious chops. There is so much emotion he puts into it, so many colors on his palette."---Rob Cohen, director of "The Rat Pack", to The New York Times, May 16, 1999.

"Actors have to know that this is fleeting. This is about the flavor of the month. They can get sick of Don Cheadle's flavor and move on to the next at any time. Very few actors, we can probably count them on two hands, have had a career that spans 60 years. You can be a banker for the rest of your life, but you can be bankable for as long as people want to pay for tickets. I'm not hot, I'm lukewarm. I'm making money and I'm saving my money and trying to be good in everything I do."---Don Cheadle quoted in Daily News, June 28, 1998.

"Don Cheadle has an angelic quality and dangerous quality to him... he's brilliant."--- Brett Ratner quoted in Ebony Magazine, August 2002.

"He's the perfect man, incredibly intelligent, talented, generous and funny."---Sophie Okonedo, Cheadle's co-star in "Rwanda" quoted to People, November 29, 2004.

"Don has this energy, like he could say or do anything at any moment. Movie stars in general make us feel safe, but that's not where he operates from. He seems not to be governed by the laws of the universe somehow."---Stephen Soderbergh, who directed Cheadle in "Ocean's Twelve", to Entertainment Weekly, December 17, 2004.

"My career has never been like a jet taking off; it's a house built on sand," he says. "It's nervous-making for sure."---Cheadle to GQ, March 2005.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Bridget Coulter. Actor. Played Cheadle's wife in "Rosewood"; mother of his two daughters.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Colin Cheadle.
daughter:
Ayana Tai Cheadle. Born on September 26, 1994; mother, Bridget Coulter.

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