Don Cheadle’s long-awaited Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead, made its world premiere to an enthusiastic audience over the weekend at the New York Film Festival.
The film, which Cheadle co-wrote, directed, and stars in, was an eight-year in the making labor of love that drew a standing ovation from its inaugural audience, a reaction that proved to be a welcomed relief for Cheadle, who sat on pins and needles for the duration of the screening.
“That felt a lot better than throwing up on my shoes, which is how I felt earlier tonight,” he joked.
“You really felt the energy,” said co-star Emayatzy Corinealdi, who plays Davis’ first wife, Frances. “You felt the love.”
A number of Davis’ family members were on-hand for the film’s premiere including Frances Davis herself and Vince Wilburn, Jr., Davis’ nephew, who is credited with being an instrumental figure in getting the project off the ground.
Wilburn, Jr. says he was asked at Davis’ 2006 posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as to who he thought could pull off portraying his legendary uncle.
“I got asked, ‘Who do you want to play your uncle?’ and I said, ‘Don Cheadle.’ Never met him,” he recalls.
Cheadle says he wasn’t given much of a choice in the matter, and though the project initially was more than he signed on for, he’s glad he stuck with it.
“I was basically told I was going to do it,” he joked again before getting serious. “To tell the truth, if this project had gone away years ago, I would have been relieved. It was just so daunting. But then something shifted. It started to feel like a mandate. I had to make this film.”
Miles Ahead is scheduled to be released nationwide next spring.