Don Cheadle Is Completely Unrecognizable In Miles Davis Biopic First Look

Behold: Don Cheadle IS Miles Davis.

The dapper actor who earned an Oscar nod for his portrayal of a noble hero in Hotel Rwanda; titillates and terrorizes in House of Lies; and kicked some serious bad guy ass in Iron Man 3 is now preparing to play one of the coolest American musicians ever in Miles Ahead. And the pic above is our first look.

EW shared this pic, which has Cheadle posing with head bowed and a trumpet engraved with the name of Miles Ahead's hero, the one and only Miles Davis. Cheadle is making his directorial debut on the biopic that is now in production, sharing his schedule with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which demanded he reprise his role as Colonel James "War Machine/Iron Patriot" Rhodes. Cheadle also contributed to the screenplay, which he co-wrote with Steven Baigelman (Feeling Minnesota), Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson (Ali).

Rather than encapsulating the entirety of Miles Davis's life, Miles Ahead (previously known as Kill The Trumpet Player) will focus on the five-year span where he stopped making music--known as his "silent period"--and his troubled marriage to Frances Taylor Davis. All of this eventually led up to the creation of Davis's 1969 jazz-rock album In a Silent Way.

Miles Ahead has been a passion project of Cheadle's for nearly a decade. We first reported on Don Cheadle's dream project back in 2006 when he hired Rivele and Wilkinson to craft a screenplay from the legendary trumpeter's life story. But years ticked by with no news. In the fall of 2011, George Tillman Jr., helmer of Men of Honor and the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious, was being pursued to direct a competing Miles Davis biopic (tentatively called Miles). Shortly thereafter, Cheadle was kicking up interest in his Miles Davis movie once more.

At this point, Cheadle was in talks to have a studio back his efforts. But those plans never shook out, and the film was ultimately crowd-funded, perhaps in part because Cheadle had a very unorthodox way of pitching his project. He said in 2012:

"It's not a biopic, per se. It's a gangster pic. It's a movie that Miles Davis would have wanted to star in. Without throwing history away, we're trying to shuffle it and make it more cubist. The bulk of it takes place in '79, in a period where he actually wasn't playing. But we traverse a lot of it his life, but it's not a cradle to grave story."

Cheadle had said he'd helm the film, but a few months later reports came out that Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) was taking over with Cheadle still staring. But then nearly two more years clicked by without much word on Miles Ahead. Then it re-emerged like a phoenix with Cheadle back in the director's chair and gearing up to lens in July.

Miles Ahead is now shooting in Cincinnati. Co-starring with Don Cheadle are Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg and Emayatzy Corinealdi. No release date has yet been set.

To see how close Don Cheadle looks to the real Miles Davis, click through to the next page.

Kristy Puchko

Staff writer at CinemaBlend.