Despite the fact that I grew up in a household where my grandfather had his own band and my mother loved jazz, I never really took to it much. Sure, I know my way around the more contemporary stuff (Michael Franks and his empty cookie jars always has a place on my random music playlist), but not so much the classic big band stuff or the works of the true pioneers. Pioneers like the legendary Miles Davis… who was apparently a freaking wackjob.
I know this now only because of this first trailer for Miles Ahead, a new biopic directed and starred in Don Cheadle. The movie appears to take place in the late 1970’s when Davis’ life – personally and professionally – was most definitely not in the best shape, setting the scene for a whole lot of drama. Some of it really weird. Check it out for yourself.
If you, like me, don’t really know much about Miles Davis other that his jazz credentials, then that trailer probably surprised you too. And Cheadle revealed to EW that that’s kind of the plan for the entire movie, and not hit the familiar tropes that so many biopics do.
I had seen other films that have done it — because I’ve been a part of several of them, by the way. Biopics, where I guess you could say tropes; I would say they’re also just signposts you have to hit along the way. When you set out to make a biopic, the purpose, whether stated or not, is usually to hit the highlights or lowlights of someone’s life in order to crescendo at the end. It is trope, I guess that’s the word. But I thought, especially with someone like Miles Davis, whose life seemed to very antithetical to that, and whose art was so mercurial and spontaneous and not dedicated to any sort of form that he had done before. He went on to the next thing and he kind of never looked back. I thought it would really be totally anathema to him to do something that felt standard, so to speak.
This will also be the first time that Cheadle steps behind the camera – already a tall order, excluding the fact that he has to star in the movie as well – but that wasn’t what he originally intended to do.
“No, and when 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 also stars Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Stuhlbarg and Keith Stanfield. It is set for limited release on April 1, 2016.
Last Updated: February 5, 2016