The life of legendary musician Miles Davis will be told on the big screen later this year in the biopic entitled Miles Ahead, which debuted at the 2015 New York Film Festival and is set for theatrical release on April 1. Today we have the first trailer for this upcoming drama, starring Don Cheadle as the musical icon, with the actor also making his directorial debut. The actor/director also spoke with Entertainment Weekly, shedding new light on this unique story.
10 years ago, when Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the musician's nephew Vince Wilburn told reporters that he thought Don Cheadle was the perfect actor to play his uncle. The actor admitted that he wasn't pursuing the role at that time, but at first, he was only interested in starring, not directing. The actor/filmmaker revealed how he came around to making his directorial debut on Miles Ahead.
"[W]hen it first came to me, it was just something for me to act in. When I met with [Miles'] family, I told them I wanted to do something that wasn't like I had seen before, and I had a take on the movie, that if I was going to play him, that it had to be as creative and different, that if it wasn't as aspirational as he was, then I wasn't really that interested. And before I got to my house after that meeting, it kind of came to me that that would be hard for anyone else possibly to see it the same way that I was seeing it, so if I was going to do it, I'd probably have to direct it. And as I was calling them, they were kind of calling me to say the same thing."
Miles Ahead isn't a conventional biopic by any means, focusing on a period of his life in 1979, towards the end of the artist's five-year stretch where he wasn't performing or recording new music. The story centers on the musician teaming up with a journalist from Rolling Stone, played by Ewan McGregor, to retrieve a tape of valuable session music. This story also intersects with the musician's romance with dancer Frances Taylor (Emayatzy E. Corinealdi), and shows the impact her relationship had on his music. When asked why he picked this time in his life, Don Cheadle had this to say.
"Just the fact that he wasn't playing. The fact that he hadn't played for five years, up to that point, and in a way, was either chomping at the bit to figure out what to say again, if to say again, or he was going down towards death very quickly. He was standing on that knife's edge at that point, and I don't think he even know which way it was gonna go. So for us, when we got to the period in all the research about how Miles didn't play for five years, we were like, 'What?' [Laughs] That was the part that was the most interesting from a human being standpoint to me. Musically and what he did with his art form was amazing to me all the time, for the most part. But for me, as a human and an artist and someone who's a creative person, what happens when you just stop for five years? That's why we picked that moment to sort of be the departure point: him on the verge of talking again, basically."
The supporting cast is rounded out by Keith Stanfield, Michael Stuhlbarg, Austin Lyon, Chris Hahn, Morgan Wolk, Jeffrey Grover and Christina Browder. Don Cheadle directs from a script he co-wrote with Steven Baigelman. Are you looking forward to seeing Miles Davis' life unfold on the big screen? Chime in with your thoughts after checking out the first trailer.