Actor Don Cheadle’s obsession with Miles Davis began as a child with the jazz trumpeter’s album Porgy and Bess, a beloved staple of his family’s music collection.Now, Cheadle will make his feature film directorial debut with a crowdfunded biopic on Davis that will focus on the musician’s transition into music after a five-year hiatus—otherwise known as his “silent period”—and tumultuous relationship with first wife Frances Taylor Davis.
In an EW exclusive of the actor in character, Cheadle gave fans a first look at his interpretation of the icon during in the period leading up to his 1969 jazz-rock fusion recording In a Silent Way. “It’s surreal,” says the 49-year-old House of Lies actor, who in the photograph totes a trumpet and sports Davis’ trademark jheri-curled mullet.
The biopic—which will co-star Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and Emayatzy Corinealdi—begins shooting this week in Cincinnati after being in development for nearly a decade. Cheadle spoke to EW about the independent film—which he co-wrote—and shared details about how he was approached by the Davis family to profile the prodigious talent, why he turned to jazz heads to crowdsource funding, and explained why he’s set on making a movie that Davis himself “would want to star in.”