Oscar Actors: Cheadle, Don

Iron Man 2 Iron Man 2

Don Cheadle is a new addition to the “Iron Man” franchise, starring as Lt. Col. James Rhodes in”Iron Man 2.”

The Marvel film, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and is directed by Jon Favreau, is being released May 7 by Paramount.

In 2004, Cheadle was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his work in the searing true-life drama “Hotel Rwanda.”  His portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who saved hundreds from slaughter during Rwanda’s genocidal massacres, also brought him Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations, as well as dual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nods, one for Best Actor and another as part of the nominated cast.  In 2005, he joined the ensemble cast in Paul Haggis’ Oscar-winning Best Picture “Crash,” on which Cheadle also served as a producer.  He earned a BAFTA Award nomination for his performance in that movie, in addition to sharing in a SAG Award for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast.

He most recently starred in Antoine Fuqua’s “Brooklyn’s Finest,” “Hotel for Dogs,” “Traitor,” in which Cheadle also served as a producer, the critically acclaimed drama “Reign Over Me” with Adam Sandler, and “Talk to Me,” a biopic about Ralph “Petey” Greene, an ex-con who became a popular 1960s talk show host and community activist.  Cheadle also executive-produced the film, which was directed by Kasi Lemmons. 

Cheadle previously worked with director Steven Soderbergh in “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen”; the Oscar-winning drama “Traffic,” for which he shared in a SAG Award for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; and “Out of Sight.”  His film credits also include Brett Ratner’s “After the Sunset”; “The Assassination of Richard Nixon” with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn; “The United States of Leland”; Dominic Sena’s “Swordfish” with John Travolta and Halle Berry; Brett Ratner’s “The Family Man” with Nicolas Cage; Brian De Palma’s “Mission to Mars”; “Bulworth,” directed by and starring Warren Beatty; Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically acclaimed “Boogie Nights”; “Volcano” with Tommy Lee Jones; and John Singleton’s “Rosewood,” for which Cheadle earned an NAACP Image Award nomination.  Cheadle’s breakout performance had been in the 1995 crime drama “Devil in a Blue Dress,” for which he had been named the year’s Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Cheadle has also been recognized for his work on the small screen.  In 1999, he won a Golden Globe Award and received an Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. in the HBO movie “The Rat Pack.”  That same year, he garnered a second Emmy nomination for his starring role in HBO’s “A Lesson Before Dying,” based on Ernest J. Gaines’ best-selling novel.  He earned a third Emmy nomination for his work in Showtime’s “Things Behind the Sun,” directed by Allison Anders.  Cheadle more recently received his fourth Emmy nod for his recurring guest role on NBC’s hit series “ER.”  His additional television credits include CBS’s live broadcast of the Cold War drama “Fail Safe,” directed by Stephen Frears; HBO’s “Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault”; and a regular role on the David E. Kelley series “Picket Fences.” 

Cheadle originated the role of Booth in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Top Dog/Underdog” under the direction of George C. Wolfe at New York’s Public Theatre.  His theatre work also includes productions of “Leon, Lena and Lenz,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Liquid Skin,” “Cymbeline,” “`Tis Pity She’s a Whore” and Athol Fugard’s “Blood Knot.”  He also directed productions of “Cincinnati Man,” “The Trip” and “Three, True, One.” 

Apart from his acting, Cheadle is also a musician who plays saxophone, writes music, and sings.  He was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his narration/dramatization of the Walter Mosley novel Fear Itself.  In addition, he recently co-authored (with John Prendergast) the book Not on Our Watch – A Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond (Hyperion), to help focus the world’s attention on this humanitarian crisis.  The book offers strategies that readers can implement to make a difference in the fates of people in Darfur and other crisis zones.