Donald Frank Cheadle Jr. (/ˈtʃiːdəl/; born November 29, 1964)[2] is an American actor, writer, producer, and director. He had an early role in Hamburger Hill (1987), before building his career in the 1990s with performances in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Rosewood (1997) and Boogie Nights (1997). He started a collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh that resulted in the films Out of Sight (1998), Traffic (2000) and Ocean's Eleven (2001). Other films include Volcano (1997), The Rat Pack (1998), Things Behind the Sun (2001), Swordfish (2001), Crash (2004), Ocean's Twelve (2004), Ocean's Thirteen (2007), Reign Over Me (2007), Talk to Me (2007), Traitor (2008) and The Guard (2011). Cheadle co-wrote, directed and starred in Miles Ahead (2015), based on the life of jazz musician Miles Davis. He plays the superhero Colonel James 'Rhodey' Rhodes / War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has appeared in Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016) and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

In 2004, Cheadle earned good critical notices for his lead role as Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama film Hotel Rwanda, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He starred as Marty Kaan on the Showtime sitcom House of Lies, for which he won a Golden Globe Award in 2013.[3]

Cheadle has campaigned to end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and co-authored, with John Prendergast, on a book about this issue; Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. With George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, David Pressman and Jerry Weintraub, Cheadle co-founded the Not On Our Watch Project, an organization focusing global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities. In 2010, Cheadle was named U.N. Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador.



Early life

Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Bettye (née North), a teacher, and Donald Frank Cheadle Sr., a clinical psychologist.[2] He has a sister, Cindy, and a brother, Colin. His family moved from city to city throughout his childhood. He attended Hartley Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1970 to 1974.[30] Cheadle graduated in 1982 from East High School in Denver, Colorado, where he played saxophone in the jazz band, sang in the choirs and was active in the theatre department, performing in musicals, plays, and several mime shows all under the direction of Catherine Davis. After he graduated from East, Cheadle went on to California Institute of the Arts, graduating with a BFA in Acting.[2][4]


Cheadle first became eligible for his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card when he appeared as a burger joint employee in the 1985 comedy Moving Violations. He then appeared in Hamburger Hill in 1987, and played the role of Jack in the April 1, 1988 "Jung and the Restless" episode of Night Court. Although his character was supposed to be 16 years old, Cheadle was 23 at the time.

Cheadle then played the role of Rocket in the 1988 movie Colors. In 1989, he appeared in a video for Angela Winbush's No. 2 hit single "It's the Real Thing", performing dance moves in an orange jump suit, working at a car wash.[5] In 1990, he appeared in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air titled "Homeboy, Sweet Homeboy", playing Will Smith's friend and Hilary's first love interest, Ice Tray. In 1992, he played a supporting role in The Golden Girls spin-off The Golden Palace. Cheadle subsequently played district attorney John Littleton on three seasons of Picket Fences.

Cheadle first received widespread notice for his portrayal of Mouse Alexander in the film Devil in a Blue Dress, for which he won Best Supporting Actor awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics and was nominated for similar awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the NAACP Image Awards. Following soon thereafter was his performance in the title role of the 1996 HBO TV movie Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault. He also starred in the 1997 film Volcano, directed by Mick Jackson.

Cheadle's television credits include Emmy-nominated performances in the movies The Rat Pack, A Lesson Before Dying, Things Behind the Sun and in a guest appearance on ER. The last of these spanned four episodes during the show's ninth season, in which he portrayed Paul Nathan, a medical student struggling to cope with Parkinson's disease. He has made appearances in films including Rosewood, The Family Man, Boogie Nights, a cameo appearance in the film Abby Singer, Out of Sight, Traffic, and Ocean's Eleven. These last three were directed by Steven Soderbergh. In 2005, Cheadle was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina in the film Hotel Rwanda. He also starred in and co-produced Crash, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Picture. For his performance in Crash, Cheadle was nominated for the BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Supporting Actor. He played the main character in the movie Traitor. In March 2007, Cheadle starred with comedian Adam Sandler in Mike Binder's Reign Over Me, a comedy-drama about a man who has slipped away from reality after his wife and three daughters died. After playing for 38 days, the film became a box office flop earning a domestic gross of only 22.2 million. Cheadle later starred in the 2009 DreamWorks Pictures film Hotel for Dogs.[6][7]

In 2007, Cheadle and activist John Prendergast wrote the book Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. Cheadle was to make his directorial debut with the adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Tishomingo Blues, but in July 2007 he stated, "'Tishomingo' is dead..."[8]

Cheadle appeared in NFL commercials promoting the Super Bowl from 2002 to 2005. He so regularly appeared for the NFL in its Super Bowl advertising that in 2006, in a drive to get fans to submit their own advertising ideas, the NFL sought his permission to reference his previous commercials to portray themselves as having no new ideas: "he quickly signed off on the idea and found it funny." Abe Sutton (along with Etan Bednarsh), one of the finalists in this NFL contest, played on this commercial by proposing an ad where an entire team of football players are Don Cheadle.[9]

Cheadle and Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder are working together to launch a comedy show on NBC.[10] The "project revolves around mismatched brothers who reunite to open a private security company."[10] Cheadle will serve as an executive producer, along with McGruder, who will write the script.[11]

In 2009, Cheadle performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.[11]

In 2010, Cheadle assumed the role of James Rhodes in the film Iron Man 2 and as well for its sequel Iron Man 3, replacing Terrence Howard. In 2010, Cheadle was appointed "U.N. Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador." He and Prendergast published their second book, The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes, in 2010. He also appeared in one of Derek Waters' Drunk History videos as Frederick Douglass. Since January 8, 2012, he has starred in the Showtime TV series House of Lies. In 2013, he won the Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the show.[3]

Cheadle had a role in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War, reprising his character Col. James Rhodes.

Cheadle spent ten years writing and producing the film Miles Ahead, based on the life of jazz musician Miles Davis, which Cheadle also directed and starred in. Locations for the movie were found in Cincinnati.[16] The film was released in 2016.

In September 2015, Cheadle appeared (also as a red bird version of himself) in the promo ad for the Champions for Earth tournament in Angry Birds Friends.

Personal life


At the 2007 World Series of Poker, Cheadle and poker player Annie Duke organized an annual charity poker tournament, Ante Up for Africa.[18][19]

In 2007, Cheadle was awarded the BET Humanitarian award of the year for his numerous humanitarian services he rendered for the cause of the people of Darfur and Rwanda.[20]

On December 13, 2007, Cheadle and fellow actor George Clooney were presented with the Summit Peace Award by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome for their work to stop the genocide and relieve the suffering of the people of Darfur. In 2008, Cheadle's family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test revealed that Cheadle is of Cameroonian descent.

Cheadle has two children with his longterm partner, actress and Rosewood co-star, Bridgid Coulter.

Cheadle works with the United Nations on climate change concerns. He and Harrison Ford worked together on a documentary event series Years of Living Dangerously, which provides first-hand reports on those affected by, and seeking solutions to climate change.[22] He is also on the Advisory Board of Citizens Climate Lobby.[23]



19843 DaysAngel 
1985Moving ViolationsJuicy Burgers Worker 
1987Hamburger HillPvt. Washburn 
1992Roadside ProphetsHappy Days Manager 
1993Meteor Man, TheThe Meteor ManGoldilocks 
1995Things to Do in Denver When You're DeadRooster 
1995Devil in a Blue DressMouse Alexander
1996Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault
1997VolcanoEmmit Reese 
1997RosewoodSylvester Carrier 
1997Boogie NightsBuck Swope 
1998Out of SightMaurice Miller 
1998Rat Pack, TheThe Rat PackSammy Davis Jr. 
2000TrafficMontel Gordon 
2000Mission to MarsLuke Graham 
2000Family Man, TheThe Family ManCash 
2001Rush Hour 2KennyUncredited
2001Things Behind the SunChuck 
2001ManicDr. David Monroe 
2001SwordfishAgent J.T. Roberts 
2001Ocean's ElevenBasher TarrUncredited
2003Abby SingerHimself 
2003The United States of LelandPearl Madison 
2004Ocean's TwelveBasher Tarr 
2004After the SunsetHenri Mooré 
2004Assassination of Richard Nixon, TheThe Assassination of Richard NixonBonny Simmons 
2004Unchained Memories: Readings From The Slave Narratives  
2004Hotel RwandaPaul Rusesabagina 
2005CrashDet. Graham Waters 
2006Dog Problem, TheThe Dog ProblemDr. Nourmand 
2006King Leopold's GhostNarrator 
2007Reign Over MeAlan Johnson 
2007Talk to MePetey Greene 
2007Ocean's ThirteenBasher Tarr 
2007Darfur NowHimself 
2008TraitorSamir Horn 
2009Hotel for DogsBernie 
2009People Speak, TheThe People SpeakHimselfDocumentary
2010Brooklyn's FinestClarence 'Tango' Butler 
2010Iron Man 2Lt Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War MachineReplacing Terrence Howard
2011Guard, TheThe GuardFBI Agent Wendell Everett 
2012FlightHugh Lang 
2013Iron Man 3Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / Iron Patriot 
2015Avengers: Age of UltronCol. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine 
2015Miles AheadMiles DavisAlso director, writer and producer
2016Captain America: Civil WarCol. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine 
2016Kevin Hart: What Now?Himself 
TBAPrince of DarknessJeremiah HamiltonAlso producer[33]
2018Avengers: Infinity WarCol. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War MachinePost-Production
2019Untitled Avengers filmCol. James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War MachineFilming


1986FameHenry Lee2 episodes
1986L.A. LawJulian TatoonEpisode: "Gibbon Take"
1986SidekicksGang LeaderEpisode: "The Last Electric Knight"
1987Hill Street BluesDarius MiltonEpisode: "Days of Swine and Roses"
1987Bronx Zoo, TheThe Bronx ZooCarverEpisode: "Small Victories"
1988Night CourtJackEpisode: "Jung and the Restless"
1988HoopermanHimselfEpisode: "High Noon"
1989BookerHimselfEpisode: "The Pump"
1990China BeachAngelEpisode: "Warriors"
1990Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, TheThe Fresh Prince of Bel-AirIce TrayEpisode: "Homeboy, Sweet Homeboy"
1992–1993Hangin' with Mr. CooperBennie2 episodes
1992–1993Golden Palace, TheThe Golden PalaceRoland Wilson24 episodes
1993Lush LifeJackTV movie
1993–1995Picket FencesD.A. John Littleton38 episodes
1996Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" ManigaultEarl "The Goat" ManigaultTV movie
1999Lesson Before Dying, AA Lesson Before DyingGrant WigginsTV movie
2000Simpsons, TheThe SimpsonsBrother FaithEpisode: "Faith Off"
2000Fail SafeLt. Jimmy PierceTV movie
2002Bernie Mac Show, TheThe Bernie Mac ShowCousin D2 episodes
2002ERPaul Nathan4 episodes
2011–2016House of LiesMarty KaanLead role
201230 RockHimselfEpisode: "Unwindulax"
2014, 2016Years of Living DangerouslyHimselfEpisode: "Dry Season"
2014–presentThursday Night FootballNarratorIntro only

As producer

2007Talk to MeExecutive producer 
2007Darfur NowProducer 
2007CrashProducer2 episodes
2014St. VincentExecutive Producer 
2015Miles AheadProducer 
TBAPrince of DarknessProducer[33] 

Video games



Music videos

Awards and nominations

YearNominated workAwardResult
1995Devil in a Blue DressScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting RoleNominated
Picket FencesScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesNominated
1997Boogie NightsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureNominated
1998The Rat PackGolden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television FilmWon
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated
1999A Lesson Before DyingPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmWon
2000TrafficScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureWon
2001Things Behind the SunPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieNominated
2002ERPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesNominated
2004Hotel RwandaSatellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture DramaWon
Academy Award for Best ActorNominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture DramaNominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureNominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading RoleNominated
CrashAcademy Award for Best Picture as producerWon
BAFTA Award for Best Film as producerNominated
2005Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureWon
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting RoleNominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting RoleNominated
2007Talk to MeSatellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or ComedyNominated
2012House of LiesGolden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or ComedyWon
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or ComedyNominated
2014Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or ComedyNominated
2015Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesNominated
2017Miles Ahead (soundtrack)Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual MediaWon