What Does Miles Davis' Family Think Of 'Miles Ahead'? The Don Cheadle Film Has Sparked A Big Reaction
Hollywood biopics have a history of sparking familial drama., as it can be tough to honor the wishes of the subject's loved ones when making a film about a real person. Just last week, Tom Hiddleston's I Saw the Light , a biopic of country crooner Hank Williams, was released amid some disapproval from Williams' son and grandson. It's truly impossible to please everyone, which is why it's so surprising that the latest Hollywood biopic, Miles Ahead, seems to be doing just that. Directed by and starring Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead explores the life of the famous jazz trumpet player, who died in 1991. Naturally, aside from the quality of the film itself, fans of the musician are wondering what Miles Davis' family thinks of Miles Ahead , and as it turns out, the reactions have been wholly positive.
The movie, which isn't so much a biopic as it is an exaggerated imagining of what Davis' life could have been like in the 1970s, follows the musician over the course of two days, as he goes around town with Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor), a fictional reporter for Rolling Stone. Miles Ahead is far from the stereotypical biopic, as it doesn't chronicle the musician's first gig or early career milestones. Instead, it focuses on the late 1970s, at a time when Davis was already a star, but wasn't performing. It's a new, bombastic approach to the genre, and one that Davis' family fully supported, according to Cheadle.
According to the actor, it was Davis' family members, specifically his nephew Vince Wilburn Jr. and son Erin Davis, who began spreading the idea for a Miles Davis biopic in 2006 when the star was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the ceremony, Wilburn reportedly told reporters that he wanted Don Cheadle to play his uncle in a movie. "The gauntlet was thrown down at my feet — 'You're playing Miles Davis,'" Cheadle recounted at the movie's New York Film Festival premiere in 2015, according to The NY Daily News.
Not long after, Cheadle met with Davis' family, who were passionate about getting a movie about the musician made. Without a script or director, the movie was little more than wishful pitches for a standard biopic. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Cheadle recounted how he pitched the Davis family on a a more experimental format — a pseudo gangster movie with a jazz-like construction (read: non linear). As Cheadle told Rolling Stone, "I just thought, let's do a movie that Miles Davis would say, 'I want to be the star of that movie. Not the one about me. The one where I'm the f*cker running it, and I tell everybody what happens.'"
From that first meeting, Cheadle worked with Wilburn's full support — Davis' nephew is credited as a producer on the film, as are his children, Erin and Cheryl Davis (the three of them are in charge of Davis' estate). The script, which was written by Cheadle and Steven Baigelman, with story credits to Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, was sent to the Davis estate for review constantly. "The script went back and forth with the family," Wilburn told USA Today at the film's Los Angeles premiere recently.
Though Wilburn and Davis' children were instrumental in the making of Miles Ahead, Davis' family members are quick to credit Cheadle with the success of the film. "I hope Don wins an Academy Award. He put his heart and soul into it. And financially, he put his money where his mouth is," Wilburn said in an interview with All About Jazz in October.
With praise like that from Davis' family, I think it's safe to say that Cheadle's first feature has their blessing.
Images: Sony Pictures Classics; Giphy