Actor, producer, screenwriter
Donald Frank Cheadle Jr. (born November 29, 1964) is an American actor, film producer, director and writer. Following an early role in Hamburger Hill (1987), Cheadle built his career in the 1990s with roles in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Rosewood (1997) and Boogie Nights (1997). His collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh resulted in the films Out of Sight (1998), Traffic (2000) and Ocean's Eleven (2001). Cheadle was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his lead role as Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the historical genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda (2004). From 2012 to 2016, he starred as Marty Kaan on the Showtime comedy series House of Lies; he won a Golden Globe Award in 2013 for his portrayal of this character. Cheadle achieved global recognition with his role of James Rhodes / War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (replacing Terrence Howard, who played the role in Iron Man (2008)). Cheadle played this starring role in Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Donald Frank Cheadle Sr. and Bettye North. He has a sister, Cindy, and a brother, Colin. His family moved from city to city throughout his childhood. He attended Hartley Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1970 to 1974. Cheadle graduated in 1982 from East High School in Denver, Colorado. During high school, he played saxophone in the jazz band, sang in the choirs and was active in the theatre department, performing in musicals, plays, and mime shows under the direction of Catherine Davis. Cheadle became eligible for his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card when he appeared as a burger joint employee in the 1985 comedy Moving Violations. 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 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. 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. In 1992, he played a supporting role in The Golden Girls spin-off The Golden Palace. Cheadle subsequently played district attorney John Littleton on three 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. In March 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. Cheadle was to make his directorial debut with the adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues, but in July 2007 he stated, "'Tishomingo' is dead..." 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 every player on a football team is Don Cheadle. In 2009, Cheadle and Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder worked on a potential comedy show on NBC. The "project revolve around mismatched brothers who reunite to open a private security company." Cheadle and McGrudr were slated to serve as executive producers, while McGruder was expected to write the script.
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