Don Cheadle‘s been wanting to play tortured jazz genius Miles Davis for a while now. In the meantime, a rival Miles Davis project, titled Miles with Notorious and Faster helmer George Tillman Jr. signed on to direct, has been announced and is in pre-production stages. Even still, Cheadle’s confident in his adaptation, one he hopes to star in, direct and produce.
“…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. Without throwing history away, we’re trying to shuffle it and make it more cubist. The bulk of it takes place in ’79, in a period where he actually wasn’t playing. But we traverse a lot of it his life, but it’s not a cradle to grave story…”
The actor went on to say that they have a studio offer, the rights to all of Davis’ music and the blessing of his estate, the future of the film falling now on finding the right budget without “gutting the piece.” Jazz great Herbie Hancock is still onboard to score the film.
Miles Davis is a fascinating subject. Arguably the most inventive jazz musician of all time, the man struggled with both drugs and depression throughout his life. Dropping out of Julliard, taking up with Charlie Parker’s quintet for a number of years, touring all over the country, until he and Parker had a falling out over money (Parker had his own bouts with drugs as well), Davis became a staple of the New York jazz scene in the late ’40s/earl ’50s.
What followed his break-up with Parker that was the birth of the Cool, also known as “cool jazz.” He then went to Paris, fell in love and came back to New York, falling into a deep depression that would lead to addiction and so on and so forth. Through the pain he would continue to recreate his sound, eventually collaborating with the Acid Rock and Electric Funk artists of the 60s and 70s.
Thankfully, Cheadle’s quote sounds as scatterbrained and experimental as Davis himself. Consider Cheadle’s use of the word Cubist, a early 1900s avant-garde movement most closely associated with Pablo Picasso. If the film is to be one both Miles would have loved to star in and one Picasso party inspired, get ready for a strange experience.
Are you a fan of Miles Davis? Do you think Cheadle’s off-kilter approach can work?
Latest posts from The Film Stage