Don Cheadle To Direct & Star In Miles Davis Biopic ‘Kill the Trumpet Player’

Published 1 year ago by

Don Cheadle 570x294 Don Cheadle To Direct & Star In Miles Davis Biopic Kill the Trumpet Player

The last time any word got out about Don Cheadle and his non-conventional Miles Davis biopic – which he once described as a “gangster pic” – the film lacked studio backing, didn’t have a title, and had Cheadle positioned to star with Antoine Fuqua sitting in the director’s chair. What a difference a year can make; as of today, the film has been newly minted as Kill the Trumpet Player and also has a home with recently-formed production company BiFrost Pictures, as well as two additional cast members and a different filmmaker at the helm.

Between each of these developments, it’s the last that’s most eye-catching: Fuqua has been replaced with none other than Cheadle himself, marking his directorial debut and granting him even stronger influence over his long-gestating passion project. In front of the camera, Cheadle will be joined by Zoe Saldana and Ewan McGregor, who will respectively play Miles’ former wife, Frances Davis, and an unnamed reporter for Rolling Stone who helps the jazz legend “steal back his music.”

The film will take place over the span of a few days in the wake of Davis’ “silent period,” a six-year rut of inactivity between 1975 and 1981 that saw him sink to his lowest professional and personal depths. He played and practiced rarely, if at all, and instead spent most of his time abusing drugs. Cheadle won’t be focusing on this era, though, but rather the reawakening Davis experienced in the early ’80s. Further details remain somewhat fuzzy, but for the moment, knowing the specifics seems irrelevant.

Anything involving Cheadle is generally worth paying attention to, whether he’s starring in Showtime’s House of Lies or playing a supporting part in superhero fare like Iron Man 3. The fact that Kill the Trumpet Player happens to be a movie he cares greatly about and has invested a ton of his time and energy in should make the sudden burst of movement on the production that much more exciting. If nothing else, BiFrost head Dan Wagner has a lot of faith in Cheadle’s efforts and his personal vision, as seen in the following direct quote:

Don is one of our generation’s greatest actors, and this is the role he was born to play. His take on the conventional biopic of one of music’s most celebrated icons is cinematic ‘jazz’ and too unique to resist. It fits naturally with BiFrost’s commitment to support talent and their passion projects, so we are thrilled to work with Don on his feature directorial debut.

miles davis biopic Don Cheadle To Direct & Star In Miles Davis Biopic Kill the Trumpet Player

That’s a pretty strong vote of confidence, though Wagner obviously has a lot of good reasons for being effusive. Cheadles fans do, too, of course: any biopic that deliberately bucks formula and goes its own way deserves a look, but when that biopic is being handled by someone like Cheadle – namely, someone with talent to spare and a clear, infectious reverence for their subject matter – it instantly verges on “must see” territory.

For now, that’s all we know. We’ll see how Kill the Trumpet Player (which sounds a lot like a play on the name of a certain François Truffaut film) comes together in the coming months, but suffice it to say that this is a pretty cool turn of events for the film and for Cheadle.


We’ll keep you posted on further updates on Kill the Trumpet Player as they become available.

Source: BiFrost Pictures

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  1. One of my favorite musicians. I have a huge Mile Davis music collection on CD and vinyl. I especially like his second quartet!

  2. Im happy that more. Biopic films coming out on musicians and civil rights activists

  3. Please make it be good!!! Pleeeeez!!!

    I love Miles Davis. I really dig his work with Gil Evans. Miles Ahead is prbly one of my fave jazz albums of all time.

  4. he looks like Miles in his younger years, i guess he needs to add the wig for his 70′s 80′s look

  5. Do something unusual, like play with your back to the audience, and you are “genius”…

    Lady Gaga certainly knows how to act unusual, too.

    Meat dress, anyone?

    • Miles isn’t a genius because he played with his back to the audience. He’s a genius because he changed the course of jazz music through sheer innovation.

  6. I am so happy for Don Cheadle, it will be interesting to see how he portrays and directs the movie of Davis

  7. I don’t know that much about Miles Davis other than he was bad ass on the trumpet and had some drug issues. It will be interesting to see a biopic to make up for my embarrassingly large lack of knowledge when it comes to all things jazz. Very lazy of me to watch a Hollywood movie rather than do the correct research.

    Don Cheadle is great but I hope he hasn’t been taking any trumpet lessons of his Rhodey counterpart Terrance Howard, that dude cannot play the trumpet well at all! unless it was really good acting in Prisoners.

    • Of course Howard couldn’t play the trumpet in Prisoners. His character was supposed to be drunk during that scene.

      • Ever heard of sarcasm Bob?, why dont you step back, take a breath and lighten up.

        • Lighten up? Did my original comment sound angry or ill-willed? Nope.

          Plus, how can I detect sarcasm based off an online comment? Also, that comment didn’t even seem sarcastic at all, dude. Sounds like you made a mistake, now you’re trying to make up for it.

  8. More of a John Coltrane fan myself (now that dude was a genius), but Don Cheadle as Miles Davis is definitely a must see.

  9. Love Miles Davis! Hope this is good!

  10. Not a big fan of Miles’ music after his “comeback”…… Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson covers? No thanks. Even Tutu is annoying these days. Give me Bitches Brew or Miles Smiles anytime. But I am interested in seeing the biopic. Cheadle will be wearing the big-ass sunglasses, hair extensions and sporting a red trumpet for this one!