Don Cheadle (born November 29, 1964) is an American actor, film
producer, philanthropist, and author. Don rose to prominence after playing
supporting roles in films such as Out of Sight, Traffic, and the Ocean's
Eleven series of films. In 2004, Cheadle's portrayal of Rwandan hotel
manager Paul Rusesabagina in the film Hotel Rwanda gained him a nomination
for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a leading role. Don also campaigns
for the end of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and co-authored a book concerning
the issue titled Not On Our Watch: The Mission To End Genocide In Darfur And
Don was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Betty, a Guyanese bank manager and psychology teacher, and Donald Cheadle, a clinical psychologist. He has a sister, Cindy, and a brother, Colin. Don graduated in 1982 from East High School in Denver, Colorado. Don went on to graduate from the California Institute of the Arts.
Don acted in Hamburger Hill in 1987. He also played the role of "Jack" in the April 1, 1988 "Jung and the Restless" episode of Night Court. Although his character "Jack" was supposed to be 16 years old, Don was 24 at the time.
Don then played the role of 'Rocket' in the 1988 movie Colors. In 1989, he appeared in a video for Angela Winbush's #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 Ice Tray. In 1992, he received a supporting role in The Golden Girls spin-off The Golden Palace. Although the show was highly publicized, it was cancelled after one season. Don subsequently played district attorney John Littleton on two seasons of Picket Fences.
Don 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. A legend among American street basketball players, Manigault is considered by many to be the best streetball player that never reached the NBA as a professional.
Cheadle's fame spread with a recurring role as the district attorney on the television series Picket Fences. Cheadle's other 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. 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 (2001). These last three were directed by Steven Soderbergh. In 2005, Don was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda. He also starred in, and was one of the producers of Crash, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Picture. Don himself was nominated for Best Supporting Actor BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance in Crash.
Don 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…"
Don has also 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 have fans 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.
In 2010, Don Cheadle will assume the role of James Rhodes in the film Iron Man II, replacing Terrence Howard.
Don and his girlfriend, actress Bridgid Coulter, have two daughters: Ayana Tai (born 1995) and Imani (born 1997), they currently reside in Santa Monica, California.
According to Brett Ratner, director of the film After the Sunset, Don is an expert player of the game of Go, and advised Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek for a scene in the film in which they play it.
According to the episode of the "National Heads-Up Poker Championship" aired on NBC on April 15, 2007, Don defeated noted poker champion Phil Ivey in the first round of the tournament. The two met in the "Hearts & Diamonds" bracket. Cheadle, as an amateur player, was considered a significant underdog against the professional Ivey, notorious for his stone-cold "poker face". On the episode aired April 29, 2007, in the second round of the tournament, Don was defeated and knocked out of the tournament by Vegas poker pro Scott Fischman.
At the 2007 World Series of Poker, Don and poker player Annie Duke organized a charity poker tournament, "Ante Up for Africa". Many Hollywood actors were expected to play in the tournament, which had a $5,000 buy-in. Money finishers were encouraged to donate part of their winnings to The International Rescue Committee or The ENOUGH Project.
In 2007 Don 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.
In 2008 Cheadle's family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test shows that he may have ancestry in present day Cameroon.
In early 2009, Don embarked on a new endeavor in automotive retail; He announced that he plans to open Don Cheadle Chevrolet. He will co-manage the dealership, which will specialize in hybrid and alternative energy vehicles, with a childhood friend.
This Don Cheadle Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub