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Don Cheadle Shares The Most Iconic Characters He's Ever Played

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By Dewey Olson - - 5 Mins Read
Don Cheadle
Don Cheadle (Shutterstock) |

Don Cheadle is an actor known for his success in both film and television. He began his acting career in the mid-1980s with movies like "Hamburger Hill" and "Colors." He later transitioned to television with roles in "The Golden Palace" and "Picket Fences." During this time, his performance in "Devil with a Blue Dress" gained critical acclaim and almost earned him an Oscar nomination.


In 1999, Cheadle won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. in "The Rat Pack." He also appeared in the remake of one of Davis' movies, "Ocean's Eleven." In 2013, he won his second Golden Globe for his role in the TV series "House of Lies," which aired on Showtime for multiple years. Although the series received several nominations, Cheadle did not win any Golden Globe or Emmy awards for his performance.


Despite earning recognition from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) for his roles in "Crash" and "Devil in a Blue Dress," Cheadle was not nominated for an Oscar. However, he did receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in "Hotel Rwanda," although he ultimately lost to Jamie Foxx for "Ray."


Don Cheadle's Most Iconic Characters 

Hotel Rwanda

A 2004 film directed by Terry George and written by Keir Pearson and Terry George. It stars Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, and Nick Nolte. Don Cheadle's acclaimed portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina in "Hotel Rwanda" earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

The film depicts Rusesabagina's heroic actions during the Rwandan genocide, and Cheadle's performance garnered nominations from the Golden Globe and SAG awards and recognition from the New York Film Critics Society.


"It's not just a movie, you're walking back into a traumatic moment in history with these people who are still dealing with it daily and would never be over, so it wasn't just something that you just put down and walk away," Don Cheadle said.


Iron Man

In the film "Iron Man 2" (2010), directed by Jon Favreau and written by Justin Theroux, Don Cheadle takes on the role of War Machine. This sequel to the famous "Iron Man" features Cheadle stepping into the role previously played by Terrence Howard. The decision to cast Cheadle came after negotiations and changes behind the scenes.

The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Sam Rockwell. Don Cheadle said he was at his kid's birthday party and was given two hours to decide if he would sign up for a six-movie deal with Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"I was at my kid's laser tag birthday party," Don Cheadle said. "They called me and said, 'This is what's happening, and we're giving you the offer. If you don't say yes, we'll go to the next person. This is going to happen very fast. Why don't you take an hour and decide if you want to do it.' It was a six-movie deal! In an hour I have to decide." Marvel extended the timeline to two hours after Cheadle clarified that he was at his child's birthday party.



"Avengers: Infinity War" (2018), directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Don Cheadle portrays the character of James Rhodes, also known as War Machine. As the War Machine armor operator, Rhodes has faced previous injuries and reluctantly rejoins the Avengers team in this installment. With a star-studded cast including Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Cheadle is part of the ensemble of actors involved in the Avengers series. 


Other iconic movies Don Cheadle has acted in include Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen, Devil in a Blue Dress, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boogie Nights, Captain America, Crash, Traffic, White Noise, The Guard, Colors, etc.


Watch Don Cheadle share his favorite characters.