Why Marvel’s Don Cheadle Still Loves Acting As Much As When He Was a Kid

These days, Marvel fans may be Don Cheadle’s biggest audience. He plays Rhodey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has been acting on screen since the mid ‘80s and even earlier on stage. In 2020, Cheadle still loves acting as much as he did in the old days.

Black Monday: Don Cheadle
Don Cheadle in Black Monday | Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Season 2 of Cheadle’s series Black Monday is currently airing on Showtime. Cheadle spoke with reporters of the Television Critics Association back in January about Black Monday and shared his passion for acting. Black Monday airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on Showtime.

Don Cheadle doesn’t have to look for work anymore

Even before Marvel, Cheadle had reached a point in his career where he was in high demand. On top of that, he began producing films and television shows with 2004’s Crash, so he could always generate more vehicles for himself and others.

“That it’s very tricky for actors,” Cheadle said. “Not just actors, everybody in this business feeling like we have to hustle all the time. It’s hard to sort of turn that engine off when you’re used to being on that hamster wheel. At some point you look up and go, ‘Oh wait, I don’t have to do that as much and I can really sit back.’”

Don Cheadle in Black Monday
Don Cheadle in Black Monday | Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

In the ‘90s, Cheadle sought out movies like Devil in a Blue Dress, Rosewood and Boogie Nights. Now he can make those projects happen too.

“I’ve always been very picky and very choosy and I think it shows,” Cheadle said. “Even more so now to have the ability to not just pick what I want to do but to actually generate work and to create work and put people on projects and bring people together and produce is also a great opportunity for me to have right now and I feel very fortunate to still be in the space.”

Don Cheadle is still motivated to work hard

Achieving success hasn’t made Cheadle sit on his laurels. He works hard on everything from Marvel movies to Black Monday.

“I’m working with people that I love, cast and crew, creators, everybody and a character I like to keep digging into,” Cheadle said. “It’s not work like a grind. I mean, it’s a grind. It’s 14 hours a day. The show should be shot in seven days and it’s shot in five days. It’s bananas so you work very, very hard but again, you’re working hard on stuff that I was doing for free when I was 15 years old on stage.”

10-year-old Don Cheadle is happy now

Cheadle reflected on his earliest days of acting. That kid would be thrilled to see where he is now.

Marvel's Don Cheadle in Black Monday
Don Cheadle | Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

“I’ve been an actor since I was 10 years old,” Cheadle said. “It’s what I’ve always loved to do. It gives me energy, but yes, you have to, as we become adults and have kids that have moved on, graduated from college, out of the house, a wife who’s incredibly busy, you have to really figure out ways to balance all of that because all of the work is for something. We do all this stuff and we get paid very well. You also have to enjoy it and recharge your batteries so you have something to bring back to it.”

Acting is still full of surprises

Rhodey is fairly consistent in the Marvel movies, and he hopes to continue playing Black Monday’s Mo Monroe for many seasons. Cheadle first and foremost serves the work, but he’s always looking for those surprises too.

“Of course, there’s something I get selfishly out of being in a scene and taking something that was just words on a page and standing it up and working with other actors and bringing it to life. Absolutely that’s why we do it so that people watching it will be moved and be engrossed and be entertained and all of that. When it’s working on the best level, it’s able to do all of that stuff. The bedrock is entertaining. We’re here to entertain but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn sh*t along the way and be educated or enlightened about stuff.”

Don Cheadle, Television Critics Association panel, 1/13/2020