Don Cheadle has co-written the screenplay for — and will make his directorial debut with — the forthcoming Miles Ahead, a film that will eschew the typical biopic formula.

DownBeat caught up with Cheadle by phone in Cincinnati, where he was preparing to begin filming in early July.

Why did you decide not to do a traditional biopic but, instead, to focus on how Davis came out of his self-imposed silence?

The scope of his life is not containable in a 90-minute movie. [We had] the option of trying to touch on every era in which he was important, and every direction his music took, but you would have to give short shrift to every single one … . That doesn’t feel that successful to me, as a movie. There are documentaries that have done that much better.

I focused on this period because, in a “meta-Miles” sort of way, I see it as an opportunity “to play what’s not there,” as he used to say. He was just creatively spent and needed to figure out what to say next. As an artist coming from a different discipline, who understands being creatively blocked, and wondering if you’re ever going to come out of it—[I find it] a very interesting part of a creative person’s life—especially this creative person’s life.

Read the interview at DownBeat.

Contribute to the making of Miles Ahead at Indiegogo.