Don Cheadle

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Don Cheadle
Don Cheadle UNEP 2011 (cropped).jpg
Cheadle shooting for UNEP as an ambassador, Feb 2011
Born Donald Frank Cheadle, Jr.
(1964-11-29) November 29, 1964 (age 53)
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Education Bachelor of Fine Arts
Alma mater California Institute of the Arts
Occupation Actor, producer, author
Years active 1984–present
Partner(s) Bridgid Coulter (1992–present)
Children 2

Donald Frank "Don" Cheadle, Jr. (/ˈdəl/; born November 29, 1964)[1] is an American actor, writer, producer, and director. He had an early role in Hamburger Hill (1987), before building his career in the 1990s with performances in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Rosewood (1997) and Boogie Nights (1997). He started a collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh that resulted in the films, Out of Sight (1998), Traffic (2000) and Ocean's Eleven (2001). Other films include The Rat Pack (1998), Things Behind the Sun (2001), Swordfish (2001), Crash (2004), Ocean's Twelve (2004), Ocean's Thirteen (2007), Reign Over Me (2007), Talk to Me (2007), Traitor (2008) and The Guard. He plays the superhero War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has appeared in Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). He will reprise his role in Captain America: Civil War in 2016.

In 2004, his lead role as Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the Rwandan Genocide earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He stars as Marty Kaan on the Showtime sitcom House of Lies, for which he most recently won a Golden Globe Award in 2013.[2]

He also campaigns for the end of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and co-authored, with John Prendergast, a book concerning the issue entitled Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. Along with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub, Cheadle co-founded the Not On Our Watch Project, an organization focusing global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities. In 2010, Cheadle was named U.N. Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador.

Early life

Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri the son of Bettye (née North), a teacher, and Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist.[1] He has a sister, Cindy, and a brother, Colin. His family moved from city to city throughout his childhood. Cheadle graduated in 1982 from East High School in Denver, Colorado. After he graduated from East, Don went on to California Institute of the Arts, graduating with a B.A in Acting.[1][3]


Cheadle first became eligible for his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card when he appeared as a burger joint employee in the 1985 comedy Moving Violations.[4] He then appeared in Hamburger Hill in 1987, and played the role of Jack in the April 1, 1988 "Jung and the Restless" episode of Night Court. Although his character was supposed to be 16 years old, Cheadle was 23 at the time.

Cheadle then played the role of Rocket in the 1988 movie Colors. In 1989, he appeared in a video for Angela Winbush's No. 2 hit single "It's the Real Thing", performing dance moves in an orange jump suit, working at a car wash.[5] In 1990, he appeared in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air titled "Homeboy, Sweet Homeboy", playing Will Smith's friend and Hilary's first love interest, Ice Tray.[6] In 1992, he played a supporting role in The Golden Girls spin-off The Golden Palace. Cheadle subsequently played district attorney John Littleton on two seasons of Picket Fences.

Cheadle first received widespread notice for his portrayal of Mouse Alexander in the film Devil in a Blue Dress, for which he won Best Supporting Actor awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics and was nominated for similar awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the NAACP Image Awards. Following soon thereafter was his performance in the title role of the 1996 HBO TV movie Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault. He also starred in the 1997 film Volcano, directed by Mick Jackson.[citation needed]

Cheadle's television credits include Emmy-nominated performances in the movies The Rat Pack, A Lesson Before Dying, Things Behind the Sun and in a guest appearance on ER. The last of these spanned four episodes during the show's ninth season, in which he portrayed Paul Nathan, a medical student struggling to cope with Parkinson's disease. He has made appearances in films including Rosewood, The Family Man, Boogie Nights, a cameo appearance in the film Abby Singer, Out of Sight, Traffic, and Ocean's Eleven. These last three were directed by Steven Soderbergh. In 2005, Cheadle was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina in the film Hotel Rwanda. He also starred in and co-produced Crash, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Picture. For his performance in Crash, Cheadle was nominated for the BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Supporting Actor. He played the main character in the movie Traitor. In March of 2007, Cheadle starred with comedian Adam Sandler in Mike Binder's Reign Over Me, a comedy-drama about a man who has slipped away from reality after his wife and three daughters died. After playing for 38 days, the film became a box office flop earning a domestic gross of only 22.2 million. Cheadle later starred in the 2009 DreamWorks Pictures film Hotel for Dogs.[7][8]

In 2007, Cheadle published a book, Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, co-authored with John Prendergast. Cheadle was to make his directorial debut with the adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues. In a July 2007 interview he stated, "'Tishomingo' is dead..."[9]

Cheadle appeared in NFL commercials promoting the Super Bowl from 2002 to 2005. He so regularly appeared for the NFL in its Super Bowl advertising that in 2006, in a drive to get fans to submit their own advertising ideas, the NFL sought his permission to reference his previous commercials to portray themselves as having no new ideas: "he quickly signed off on the idea and found it funny." Abe Sutton (along with Etan Bednarsh), one of the finalists in this NFL contest, played on this commercial by proposing an ad where an entire team of football players are Don Cheadle.[10]

Cheadle and Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder are working together to launch a comedy show on NBC.[11] The "project revolves around mismatched brothers who reunite to open a private security company."[11] Cheadle will serve as an executive producer, along with McGruder, who will write the script.[12]

In 2009, Cheadle performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.[13]

In 2010, Cheadle assumed the role of James Rhodes in the film Iron Man 2, replacing Terrence Howard. In 2010, Cheadle was appointed "U.N. Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador." He and Prendergast published their second book, The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes, in 2010. He also appeared in one of Derek Waters' Drunk History videos as Frederick Douglass. Since January 8, 2012, he has starred in the Showtime TV series House of Lies. In 2013, he won the Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the show.[2]

Cheadle had a role in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, reprising his character Col. James Rhodes.[14]

In the summer of 2014, Cheadle directed and starred in the film Miles Ahead, based on the life of jazz musician Miles Davis. The movie filmed in Cincinnati.[15]

In September 2015, Cheadle appeared (also as a red bird version of himself) in the promo ad for the Champions for Earth tournament in Angry Birds Friends.

Personal life

Cheadle in February 2007

At the 2007 World Series of Poker, Cheadle and poker player Annie Duke organized an annual charity poker tournament, Ante Up for Africa.[16][17]

In 2007, Cheadle was awarded the BET Humanitarian award of the year for his numerous humanitarian services he rendered for the cause of the people of Darfur and Rwanda.[18]

On December 13, 2007, Cheadle and fellow actor George Clooney were presented with the Summit Peace Award by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome for their work to stop the genocide and relieve the suffering of the people of Darfur. In 2008, Cheadle's family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2.[19]

Cheadle has two children with his longterm partner, actress and Rosewood co-star, Bridgid Coulter.

Cheadle works with the United Nations on climate change concerns. He and Harrison Ford worked together on a documentary event series Years of Living Dangerously, which provides first-hand reports on those affected by, and seeking solutions to climate change.[20] He is also on the Advisory Board of Citizens Climate Lobby.[21]


Year Title Role Notes
1984 3 Days Angel
1985 Moving Violations Juicy Burgers Worker
1986 Punk
1987 Hamburger Hill Pvt. Washburn
1988 Colors Rocket
1992 Roadside Prophets Happy Days Manager
1993 Meteor Man, TheThe Meteor Man Goldilocks
1993 Lush Life Jack TV movie
1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead Rooster
1995 Devil in a Blue Dress Mouse Alexander
1996 Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault Earl "The Goat" Manigault TV movie
1997 Volcano Emmit Reese
1997 Rosewood Sylvester Carrier
1997 Boogie Nights Buck Swope
1998 Out of Sight Maurice Miller
1998 Rat Pack, TheThe Rat Pack Sammy Davis Jr.
1998 Bulworth L.D.
1999 Lesson Before Dying, AA Lesson Before Dying Grant Wiggins TV movie
2000 Traffic Montel Gordon
2000 Mission to Mars Luke Graham
2000 Fail Safe Lt. Jimmy Pierce TV movie
2000 Family Man, TheThe Family Man Cash
2001 Rush Hour 2 Kenny Uncredited
2001 Things Behind the Sun Chuck
2001 Manic Dr. David Monroe
2001 Swordfish Agent J.T. Roberts
2001 Ticker Passenger
2001 Ocean's Eleven Basher Tarr
2003 Abby Singer Himself
2003 The United States of Leland Pearl Madison
2004 Ocean's Twelve Basher Tarr
2004 After the Sunset Henri Mooré
2004 Assassination of Richard Nixon, TheThe Assassination of Richard Nixon Bonny Simmons
2004 Unchained Memories: Readings From The Slave Narratives[citation needed]
2004 Hotel Rwanda Paul Rusesabagina
2005 Crash Det. Graham Waters
2006 Dog Problem, TheThe Dog Problem Dr. Nourmand
2006 King Leopold's Ghost Narrator
2007 Reign Over Me Alan Johnson
2007 Talk to Me Petey Greene
2007 Ocean's Thirteen Basher Tarr
2007 Darfur Now Himself
2008 Traitor Samir Horn
2009 Hotel for Dogs Bernie
2009 People Speak, TheThe People Speak Himself Documentary
2010 Brooklyn's Finest Clarence 'Tango' Butler
2010 Iron Man 2 Lt Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine Replacing Terrence Howard
2011 Guard, TheThe Guard FBI Agent Wendell Everett
2012 Flight Hugh Lang
2013 Iron Man 3 Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / Iron Patriot
2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine
2015 Miles Ahead Miles Davis Post-production, also director
2016 Captain America: Civil War Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine Post-production


Year Series Role Notes
1982 Fame Henry Lee 2 episodes
1986 L.A. Law Julian Tatoon Episode "Gibbon Take"
1986 Sidekicks Gang Leader Episode "The Last Electric Knight"
1987 Hill Street Blues Darius Milton Episode "Days of Swine and Roses"
1987 Bronx Zoo, TheThe Bronx Zoo Carver Episode "Small Victories"
1988 Night Court Jack Episode "Jung and the Restless"
1988 Hooperman Himself Episode "High Noon"
1989 Booker Himself Episode "The Pump"
1990 China Beach Angel Episode "Warriors"
1990 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, TheThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Ice Tray Episode 5, "Homeboy, Sweet Homeboy"
1992–1993 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Bennie 2 episodes
1992–1993 Golden Palace, TheThe Golden Palace Roland Wilson 24 episodes
1993–1995 Picket Fences D.A. John Littleton 38 episodes
2000 Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Brother Faith Episode: "Faith Off"
2002 Bernie Mac Show, TheThe Bernie Mac Show Cousin D 2 episodes
2002 ER Paul Nathan 4 episodes
2003 MADtv Perry
2011–present House of Lies Marty Kaan Lead Role
2012 30 Rock Himself Episode "Unwindulax"
2014 Years of Living Dangerously Himself Episode "Dry Season"
2014–present Thursday Night Football Narrator Intro only

As producer

Year Film Role Notes
2004 Crash Producer
2007 Talk to Me Executive producer
2007 Darfur Now Producer
2008 Traitor Producer
2007 Crash Producer 2 episodes
2014 St. Vincent Executive Producer
2015 Miles Ahead Producer
Video games
  • Iron Man 2[22] video game (2010), Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes/War Machine

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Result
1995 Devil in a Blue Dress Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Picket Fences Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
1996 Nominated
1997 Boogie Nights Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
1998 The Rat Pack Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Won
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
1999 A Lesson Before Dying Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2000 Traffic Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
2001 Things Behind the Sun Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
2002 ER Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2004 Hotel Rwanda Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Won
Academy Award for Best Actor Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
Crash Academy Award for Best Picture as producer Won
BAFTA Award for Best Film as producer Nominated
2005 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
2007 Talk to Me Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Nominated
2012 House of Lies Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Won
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2013 Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Williams, Kam (January 12, 2009). "Don Cheadle: The Hotel for Dogs Interview". The Sly Fox. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Don Cheadle Wins Golden Globe For Best Comedy Actor". Huffington Post. January 13, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  3. Gates, Jr., Henry Louis. In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Biography). Crown. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-307-38240-5. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  4. "How Did You Get Your SAG-AFTRA Card?" TV Guide, January 13, 2014. p. 10.
  5. Johnson, Kevin C. "Angela Winbush tells of career struggles, cancer battle in 'Unsung'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  6. "It's Evening in America". Vanity Fair. May 2012. Page 155.
  7. "Don Cheadle joins 'Iron Man 2'". October 14, 2008. Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  8. "Don Cheadle Joins Hotel for Dogs". Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  9. "Don Cheadle Talks to Us". July 6, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  10. Thomaselli, Rich (November 2, 2006). "Advertising Age". Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Cheadle, McGruder Team For New Series". October 28, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  12. Getty Images (October 26, 2009). "Don Cheadle, 'Boondocks' creator Aaron McGruder team on NBC comedy; Brad Pitt takes a tumble; and more: The Morning After". Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  13. "Credits". The People Speak. Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  14. Thompson, Arienne (December 12, 2013). "Don Cheadle mellow, 'barely awake' after Globes news". USA Today. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 
  15. "Don Cheadle starts filming 'Miles Ahead' Monday". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  16. "2nd ANNUAL ANTE UP FOR AFRICA POKER TOURNAMENT AT THE WSOP RAISES PUBLIC AWARENESS AND FUNDS TO HELP END THE CRISIS IN DARFUR". Ante Up for Africa. Archived from the original on February 17, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2009. 
  17. "2010 WSOP Schedule". Retrieved June 6, 2010. 
  18. "BET AWARDS '07: HUMANITARIAN AWARD". Retrieved 2012-11-04. 
  19. "African American Lives 2 Profiles: Don Cheadle". PBS. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  20. Don Cheadle and Harrison Ford explore climate change in Years of Living Life Dangerously,; accessed June 22, 2015.
  21. "About CCL - Citizens' Climate Lobby". Citizens' Climate Lobby. Retrieved 2015-12-05. 
  22. "Iron Man 2: The Video Game Gets Talented". Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  23. "Don Cheadle Is CAPTAIN PLANET in New Funny or Die Spoof | Collider | Page 112368". Collider. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 

External links