Who Is Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle is a multi award winning actor and producer, known for his highly acclaimed dramatic roles in movies such as Miles Ahead, in which he plays celebrated Jazz musician Miles Davis, and Hotel Rwanda, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination. However, Cheadle is most well known for his role as War Machine in the billion dollar franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Cheadle featuring most prominently in the Iron Man movies.

Why is he so famous?

It wasn’t until he reached his 30s when Cheadle first started seeing success in acting. In 1995, the actor scored a starring role acting alongside the one and only Denzel Washington in the neo-noir movie Devil In A Blue Dress. Though the film failed to deliver at a the box office and lost money, it was great for Cheadle as he was praised for his performance and and was even nominated for multiple awards. After gaining praise from critics, Cheadle quickly climbed the Hollywood as he was cast in not one, not two, but three movies released in 1997. The first was Volcano, a disaster movie starring alongside Tommy Lee Jones. Then came Rosewood, a drama based around the 1923 massacre and received rave reviews. And finally, the biggest success for him up to this point, Boogie Nights, The P.T. Anderson helmed movie about the porn industry in the 1970s. Cheadle was part of an incredible ensemble cast that included Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, and more.

Though the actor would continue to have a successful late 90s picking up roles in movies and even being the lead in a movie exclusively for HBO, it was the 2000s when Cheadle’s profile really skyrocketed. In the year 2000, Cheadle had a starring role in another movie with an ensemble cast; Traffic, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was a massive success and became Cheadle’s first major box office slam-dunk as it made $200 million worldwide.

2004 was one of Cheadle’s most important years as an actor, having worked on two award-circuit heavy hitters. He had his first major leading role in Hotel Rwanda, which is about the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, and Cheadle was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Later that same year, Cheadle not only starred in Crash (not to be mistaken for the 1996 erotic thriller of the same name) but he also produced the movie, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

It is without a doubt that Cheadle received the most fame when he took on the role of War Machine, Iron Man’s sidekick, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first movie he starred in was Iron Man 2, and Cheadle has had a bigger role in each consecutive movie since, going on to star in five more films in the series; Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, which has gone on to become the highest grossing movie of all time.

How did Don Cheadle make it?

Though most of Cheadle’s salaries for the movies he has starred in are undisclosed, there are clear clues that hint to how much money he makes. In the MCU, Cheadle took over from Terrence Howard, who played War Machine in the first Iron Man and had an immense salary of $4.5 million. Howard, who was promised eight million dollars if a sequel ever came to light, was only offered one million when Iron Man 2 was eventually green lit, which is a microscopic amount compared to the original offer. Howard turned down the offer, turned his back on Marvel, and Cheadle happily took his place accepting one million dollars for Iron Man 2.

Cheadle has starred in six MCU movies and his role in the franchise has gotten bigger with each following movie. And as the movies have made an increasing amount at the box office, culminating in Avengers: Endgame, which made almost $2.8 billion worldwide, it is safe to assume that Cheadle’s salary would have kept multiplying. The MCU isn’t the only billion dollar franchise that Cheadle is a part of either. The actor starred alongside Brad Pitt and George Clooney in all three of the Ocean’s movies before it got an all female reboot in 2018.

Besides making his money from lead roles in dramas and starring in blockbuster movies, Cheadle has also seen financial success from his work producing, most notably on Crash. The 2004 Best Picture winner went on to make over $100 million worldwide. That’s an even bigger success than you think, as the budget was as little as six million dollars. Crash made over 15 times its budget, which is almost unheard of in Hollywood.

What makes him so successful?

Though he is known for taking roles in movies with heavy themes such as drug trafficking, the porn industry, and biopics about genocides and massacres, Cheadle’s take on War Machine was a lot more playful than that of Terrence Howard’s stiff delivery. Cheadle is much better suited to the MCU as he is more light-hearted and has much better chemistry with Robert Downey Jr., which is a big part of the reason why War Machine, originally a minor character, has been so prominent in the recent movies.

Cheadle hasn’t had many leading roles, but he is a magnificent supporting actor, and a lot of Cheadle’s success is thanks to his choices in taking roles in movies with an ensemble cast. In fact, most of his movies revolve around an ensemble cast, such as The Ocean’s movies, Traffic, Swordfish, Boogie Nights, and Crash. Cheadle’s ability to work well on screen with so many different actors at any given time, and to build chemistry with any actor working in Hollywood today, has helped him become as successful as he is.

Another attribute to Cheadle’s success are his professional relationships. The actor has a great working relationship with director Steven Soderbergh. After being impressed by him on the set of Out Of Sight, Soderbergh cast Cheadle four more movies after that, including the Ocean’s movies. Cheadle also has a great on-screen partnership with Denzel Washington as the actor has starred alongside Washington in both Devil In A Blue Dress and Flight.

Summary

With his ability to build chemistry with almost any actor and his starring roles in enormously successful movies, Don Cheadle has accrued an estimated net worth of a whopping $35 million. Though it is unclear if Cheadle will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we will see him starring in another movie with an ensemble cast, but one you might not expect. With LeBron James and an array of furry characters, Cheadle will star in the reboot of Space Jam in 2021.

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