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Don Cheadle: Acting isn’t “as dazzling as it used to be”

Though Don Cheadle still appears regularly in movies — like last summer’s blockbuster Iron Man 2 and the critically acclaimed Brooklyn’s Finest — his pace has seemed to slow somewhat as his attention has turned to other causes.

Along with becoming an activist and a UN goodwill ambassador, in an interview with The Guardian, Cheadle talks about his preference for smaller budget films and suggests that his scaling back on his number of roles is a deliberate career choice to move into other aspects of production.

Cheadle, who has appeared in both independent features and big-budget blockbusters like Iron Man 2, says he gravitates to small-scale films because of the passion involved in making them.  He admits, “You’re not making a lot of money, but everyone wants to do it. When you bring in your own clothes and you’re eating lunch off the roof of a car, you feel the difference – it’s more like, let’s put on a play in the garage! And you really could have made The Guard with the craft-services budget from Iron Man 2.”  He’s probably not exaggerating — The Guard, a low-budget Irish comedy-thriller that features Cheadle, was produced on a $6 million budget — more than 30 times cheaper than the budget of Iron Man 2Cheadle’s number of roles has dropped considerably since peaking with appearing in 11 movies in 2000-01, and part of that comes from his desire to move into other aspects of the production process.   “I think the more I become involved in the other aspects of film-making, the more enamoured I find I am with not being in front of the camera. I love writing and producing and watching it become something real before your eyes. But being in front of the camera … I don’t know if the bloom’s totally off the rose, but it’s not – obviously perhaps, after 26, 28 years – as dazzling as it used to be. It can be fun, but it has, on balance, highlighted more neuroses than it’s offered comfort or relief. It’s a lot of things to think about before you ever get around to telling the story – and it’s such a hustle, the grind of doing it. It all feels like having a baby right there, and then you’re out in front of it promoting, still grinding.”

Don Cheadle stars in The Guard, now playing at select theaters.

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