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Don Cheadle as War Machine in Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Signing any kind of Hollywood contract can be nerve-racking, especially when it’s coming from Marvel Studios. Marvel is known for having its star sign long-term deals, which was the case for War Machine actor Don Cheadle. However, according to a recent story, it sounds like he had to make a fairly quick decision when it came to joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Don Cheadle recently recounted the events that led him to sign on for the role of James Rhodes in the MCU, and it turns out he got the call from his agent during his child’s laser tag party. As expected, the Marvel deal included multiple films, but Cheadle had a tight window to give an answer:

I was actually at my kid’s birthday party—a laser tag party—and I got a call from my agent, and they said, ‘Hey, so I want to connect you to these Marvel guys. They want to talk to you, but they want to offer you the part.’ I don’t think it was [Kevin] Feige. I don’t know who was on the phone. But they said, ‘Hey, this is the role. We want you to do this. It’s a six-picture deal.’ I was like, ‘What?! Oh, uh, okay…’ And I’m trying to do the math. I’m like, ‘That’s 11 or 12 years. I’m not sure.’ And they’re like, ‘Well, we need to know, because if you’re not saying yes, then we’re gonna move on to the next person. So you’ve got an hour.’

Having to make such a big decision on short notice was tricky for Don Cheadle and, although Marvel (slightly) increased his time window, the decision didn’t become any easier. Fortunately for him, he was able to consult with someone who helped counsel him to his choice:

An hour to decide 12 years, and a role and parts that I don’t even know, in movies that are coming down that I have no idea what they’ll be. I said, ‘I’m at my kid’s laser tag party right now.’ They said, ‘Oh! Oh, take two hours.’ So generous! So I go back inside, and I’m ducking behind things, playing laser tag, and talking to my wife. I’m like, ‘Should I take a flier on this? Is this something I should do?’ And she said, ‘Well, yeah, I guess so. All things being equal, this is that kind of thing. You’ve never done anything like this before. Big special effects, tent pole, four-quadrant movie. Do you want to do something like this?’ I said, ‘I kind of do.’ She said, ‘Well, then take a flier. Let’s do it. Try it.’

This story, which Don Cheadle told to AV Club, is certainly one for the ages. Although most of us have never been high-paid actors getting offers like that, we can all relate to having to make decisions under pressure. The same goes for the comfort of knowing you have someone to talk to before making choices.

Marvel contracts have become a hot topic among the fan community, as many are always curious to find out how many projects their favorite stars have left on their deals. The same goes for studio negotiations that affect the characters, like Marvel and Sony’s Spider-Man arrangement.

In terms of actually landing the role, Cheadle’s story is pretty hard to top, though Samuel L. Jackson’s journey to landing the role of Nick Fury is also pretty interesting. Simu Liu, who will play the title character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, was also cast under unique circumstances.

Ultimately, it would seem Don Cheadle’s decision to join Marvel has paid off for both parties. Cheadle’s next MCU appearance is currently unknown, but there’s a good chance we haven’t seen the last of the armor-clad Air Force colonel.

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