…so much more, I’m sure.
I can’t speak about Don Cheadle as a son, but I know he had to come from the seed of his father and the womb of his mother, like the rest of us.
I can’t speak about Don Cheadle as a sibling, but according to biographical information on the web he has a brother, Colin Cheadle, and a sister, Cindy Cheadle. The Internet Movie Database even says that he has a half brother named Andrew Kilbourne.
I can’t speak about Don Cheadle as a spouse and father, but I know he is both because on the web and even in his interviews and Twitter updates he speaks of his wife and children.
I can’t expound on Don Cheadle as a philanthropist, but according to information online he has been and/or is associated with several charities and you can see him on the site, Ante Up For Africa.
I can speak about Don Cheadle, from my own opinion/perspective/point of view, as an actor.
If I had to sum up Don Cheadle’s acting career in one phrase, it would be egregiously underrated.
I won’t lead you to believe I’ve seen every movie and/or television show that Don Cheadle has done, but I will tell you that he has delivered one unequivocally solid and stellar performance after the other in all the performances I have witnessed.
I mean, even as a backup dancer in Angela Wimbush’s “It’s the Right Thing” music video, Don Cheadle gives an all-out performance.
I also have to confess that Don Cheadle’s audiobook narration of Walter Mosley’s “Paris Minton” in the book, Fear Itself, was far superior to the narration work done by either person of the audiobooks, Fearless Jones and Fear of the Dark.
But I digress…
Don Cheadle’s professional acting career spans almost 30 years. He’s been in television series, like Fame, L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues, Picket Fences, The Bernie Mac Show and he even had a voice in one of The Simpsons episodes.
He’s played diverse characters in movies like Rush Hour 2, where he spoke Chinese (I’m not sure whether it was Mandarin or Cantonese), Oceans 11, 12 and 13, where his character not only spoke with a British accent, but Don Cheadle also incorporated British venacular (Barney = Barney Rubble = Trouble) into his conversation to give “Basher Tarr” a level of authencity that couldn’t be achieved through accent alone.
And, it’s simple things, too…
Things like the scene in Rosewood, where he’s portraying Sylvester Carrier and his son is having a birthday party and the young man opens up a gift from his grandmother, and Don Cheadle, leaning in the doorway–a part of the scene but not intruding on the scene–delivers the line, “That’s real nice, mama.” There’s so much character in that modest line, the look on his face and the nod of his head that you almost get the impression that you’re peeking into a real-life home movie. It’s the warmth in the scene that comes across. The warmth.
You see that same warmth and passion when Don Cheadle plays the role of “Grant Wiggins” in A Lesson Before Dying and he has to convince Mekhi Phifer’s character that it’s not too late to stand up like a man when the world wants you to wallow like a hog.
There’s even a passion that comes across when Don Cheadle plays Sammy Davis, Jr. in The Rat Pack, and he’s imploring Ray Liotta, who is portraying Frank Sinatra, not to leave him out of an upcoming gig. Through Don Cheadle’s portrayal, I could sense how humbling that must have been for Davis to actually have to go to Sinatra and get an assurance that his skin color wasn’t going to abridge his hard work and talent.
Don Cheadle’s expert craftsmenship comes across in other movies like Traitor, where his character, “Samir Horn,” is deep, deep, deep undercover trying to break up terrorist cells in his allegience to the U.S. while “Horn” is also wrestling with his allegiance to his faith. Don Cheadle also gives noteworthy performances in his portrayal of Earl Manigault in Rebound and “Mouse Alexander” in Devil in a Blue Dress.
Who can forget the look on Don Cheadle’s face in Crash when his character, “Detective Graham Waters” discovers that the tossed-away body at the scene of a crime is his baby brother who has been shot and discarded on the side of the road?
What about his expressions as “Petey” Green in Talk to Me, when Don Cheadle takes us on an emotional roll-coaster ride that has us laughing as he portrays Green’s antics and then has us tearing up when he portrays Green as he has to calm down a city that has exploded in self-destructive rage at the announcment of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Of course, I would be remiss in my review of Don Cheadle’s awesome acting prowess if I didn’t mention his performance as Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda. When he frantically carried the blood-covered body of the child who portrayed Mr. Rusesabagina’s son into the house and cried out for Odette, when he saw the road paved with mutilated and rotting corpses, when he broke down in tears in the hotel locker room, when he was screaming for Tatiana over the edge of the roof, my head and my heart were caught up in the drama.
In the Personal Quotes section of the biographical information about Don Cheadle on the Internet Movie Database, he is reported to have said:
“I’m never going into a movie thinking that I want to grab the attention…because…I want to look back at my resume and think, ‘That was a great movie,’ not, ‘Oh, those four movies were [bleep], but I was good in them.’ I want to be a part of great things.”
While I can appreciate Don Cheadle’s willingness to be just a good part of a great whole, I have to be honest and say that my attention gravitates to him because his performances are simply attention-grabbing.
I’d like to see Don Cheadle get much more recognition for his acting abilities. I could end this article by comparing him to other African-American actors who do get the attention and accolades they have earned and deserve, but I won’t.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no need to compare Don Cheadle to any other actor.
While I can’t speak about Don Cheadle, the son, sibling, spouse, father, philanthropist and so much more, I can confidentally assert that Don Cheadle, the actor, has created a body of work that stands by/speak for itself.