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Josh: Marvel Studios has such a huge, forward-thinking vision for these films, when you came on board for Iron Man 2 where they already talking to you about Iron Man 3?

Don Cheadle: There were discussions, sure, but if the movie had gone zink I don’t imagine they would have made another one. Or if they couldn’t have figured out a way to differentiate [3] from [2] I don’t think they would have done it either.

Josh: So when they did start talking about 3, what was your mentality for Rhodes? Did you wait and see what they brought to you in the script, or did you try and influence how the character would be used before the writing started?

Cheadle: I had some discussions about who he would be and how he would come back, yeah, prior to the script. And that’s to their credit [Marvel Studios], that they don’t just want you to be a meat puppet and show up on your mark and not bump into furniture. They want your input. What is clearly running the train though, as you mentioned, is Marvel’s forward-thinking. So there is a lot they’re trying to make sure they pay off too.

Josh: I’m curious. To me, looking back at all three Iron Man films now, Rhodes felt more wholly yours this time around. Taking over the role I can imagine that in Iron Man 2 there was a transitional element happening with the character and performance. Is that just my perception, or did you go into 3 thinking, “Let’s do more of this and less of that” as you were now making Jim Rhodes entirely your own thing? [Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard, who played Jim Rhodes in Iron Man.]

Cheadle: I was just happy to have more to do, really. To get a fuller understanding of who these two men [Rhodes and Tony Stark] were to each other. And how they complimented each other. Especially to get outside of that suit and into action, physically, myself. That was something I knew would be a lot of fun for me.

Josh: I of course presume you tackle all your roles with equal seriousness. But nonetheless, there is an inherent tonal difference between films like Iron Man 3 or the Ocean’s films and something like Hotel Rwanda. As an actor, knowing this, how does that inform your performance choices?

Cheadle: I think you need to know what you’re trying to do. And what the function of the piece is, and where it sits in the universe of entertainment. [All movies] are about being entertaining, in my opinion. If you can do something else, outside of that — if you’re trying to do a serious piece, to educate people about something, that’s great, but I don’t even put to much weight on a movie being able to do all that. Its main job is to entertain. And hopefully that’s what we’re always doing. Inside of that, you need to understand what the animal is. You’re still trying to make real moments happen between the characters. Sometimes it is more difficult to do, when you’re standing in the middle of a 360 degree greenscreen. Sometimes it is a movie like The Guard, and it is stripped down and it’s just you and the other person. But at the end of the day you’re still trying to reach the same goals.

Josh: Speaking of The Guard. One thing that I think is really interesting about your career is that you have this image as an intense dramatic actor, yet you’ve been in a ton of comedies.

Cheadle: It is really interesting. I mean, I won a Golden Globe this year for being on a comedy TV show [House of Lies]. But you – and not just you, a lot of other people too – are always going, “I think of you as a dramatic actor.” And I really can’t speak to why that is. I’m in here, but there must be something about the experience out there, for other people, that makes people think “Oh he’s so serious.” But as you say, when you look at the resume it’s The Guard, it’s the Ocean’s movies, it’s [FunnyorDie’s]” Captain Planet.” I was on a sitcom for a year [The Golden Palace, the Golden Girls spin-off]. I don’t know what that is. Maybe because my dramatic pieces have been more definable. Crash won the Oscar. Hotel Rwanda I was nominated for an Oscar. Traffic got nominated for a ton of awards too. Maybe they just made more noise.

Josh: You also did a “Drunk History” with FunnyorDie. Do you have anything else in the pipeline with them?

Cheadle: No but I’m always open to it. I love working with those guys.

Josh: As my parting question, as far as things you might be open to — has there ever been any talk of doing another “Easy” Rawlins movie? Enough time has passed for you guys to do one of the later books. [Cheadle first gained notoriety for his award-winning turn as Mouse Alexander in Carl Franklin’s adaptation of Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress; starring Denzel Washington as Rawlins.]

Cheadle: No there hasn’t. I just don’t imagine Denzel is coming back to it. I’ve talked about it with Walter. My wife is actually doing a play based on the characters in New Jersey right now. But no, we haven’t really figured out how to get another film going.

Josh: Sad face.

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