The film kicked off shooting last week in Cincinnati, ending a journey through development that has lasted for nearly a decade. With Ewan McGregor (The Impossible), Michael Stuhlbarg (Lincoln), Lakeith Lee Stanfield (Short Term 12) and Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle Of Nowhere) rounding out the cast, the drama will sidestep usual biopic conventions by focusing on one specific period of Davis' life, a tumultuous five-year span that saw him pull back from music and navigate a fraught relationship with first wife Frances Taylor Davis.
"This was something that had been a periphery for me," Cheadle tells Entertainment Weekly. "I never thought about portraying him, really. I had done several other quote-unquote biopics and was always struck by the limitations they presented, because they were trying to be historically accurate. Let's be honest, any biopic is a series of omissions and conflations of events and amalgamations of characters. And you're trying to have a movie experience under three hours, so in the process you condense people's lives from cradle to grave, so things tend to feel episodic and event-oriented as opposed to a story about people and relationships and a character. So I didn't want to do another biopic. When I heard the idea, from various people who had played with him, producers, writers, that this could potentially be something, I thought, if the script is great, I would be open to it since he's always been a fascinating figure to me." For more from Cheadle, head to the Entertainment Weekly website.