Don Cheadle on attending Oscars: ‘The camera is on, you can’t bag on people like you want’

Don Cheadle doesn’t get enough credit for turning in awesome work with so little fanfare. He’s in the Marvel movies as James Rhodes/War Machine and he’s been in the Ocean movies but he still somehow flies under the radar. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in 2005 for Hotel Rwanda and he didn’t get enough publicity for directing and starring in the Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead, in 2015. In a recent appearance on The Late Show, he joked about being mid-level famous. He also described what it’s like to attend the Oscars and told a story about going to the ceremony before he was nominated. He’s just like us, he wants to talk about the people on stage but he said that you have to restrain yourself because the camera will catch you. Cheadle also talked about wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” shirt on SNL and how that happened. One of his daughters gave it to him and he recognized the opportunity. He’s been with his partner, Bridgid Coulter, since 1992 (Wiki says they’re not married but he calls her his wife) and they have two daughters in their early 20s.

On Trump calling SNL collusion
That’s really when you know that the country is in a great place when the president is attacking a comedy show.

On what prompted him to wear the ‘Protect Trans Kids’ t-shirt
You have this platform and you have an opportunity to say something. My daughter actually gave me that shirt. I said ‘I’m going to wear it, I’m just waiting for the perfect time.’ I think that was a good one.

On his level of fame and people not recognizing him
I never know. I can walk around sometimes and not be recognized at all. Other times they’re like ‘you’re that dude who is in’ and I’m like ‘you still don’t know.’

What is it like at the Oscars are they fun? [this was recorded Friday]
It’s not. It looks like it’s fun at home, but when you’re in the audience you’re the show. The camera is pointing at you so you can’t just bag on people like you really want to. Win or lose you want to talk about people on stage but if the camera is on you, you can’t just talk about people ‘oh man that is the ugly… ‘ hey [pretend claps and smiles]

On his first time going to the Oscars
I was invited because I just joined the Academy. My wife really wanted to go. The tickets were $500 each. I was like ‘we’re going to spend 1,000.’ On the red carpet I was stuck between Jack Nicholson’s entourage and Cher’s entourage and they roll deep. The paparazzi were screaming [for them]. One guy sees me and he goes ‘Don, Mr. Cheadle’ and I look up smiling and he goes ‘get out’ [of the shot].

[The Late Show via YouTube]

Don Cheadle is one of us. He wants to talk smack about people at The Oscars and he doesn’t want to spend $1,000 to have to sit there and not do that. I get the impression that part of the reason he’s not massively famous is because he doesn’t cultivate that either. He could have an entourage or act like he’s a big star but he doesn’t and we never hear a bad word about him. (That’s also why we don’t talk about him much.)

Cheadle is promoting his Showtime series Black Monday, costarring Regina Hall, which is set in the 80s around the stock market crash of 1987. He said that he wasn’t personally affected by that at all at the time because in his job he was asking “do you want fries with that?”

Here’s the trailer. This looks awesome I want to see this! The good news is that the first two episodes are available for free on Youtube. (Not an ad although Showtime is awesome and used to let us watch shows for free. Hook us up again Showtime.)

Ooh check out his Instagram I’m definitely a fan.



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47 Responses to “Don Cheadle on attending Oscars: ‘The camera is on, you can’t bag on people like you want’”

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  1. Dee says:

    Let’s take a moment to consider how ridiculous our “norms” are when a Hollywood actor has been with his partner since 1992 and has two grown children with her, and yet still they don’t qualify as “married”!! And yet getting drunk and signing a piece of paper cements you eternally. (Eg scandalous divorcee Meghan Markle). Madenning!!!

    • Dizzy says:

      In my County that’s legally married. Common law marriage is legal in many countries. (Canada etc.)

      • Kendra says:

        Common law marriage is legal in many countries as a form of partnership but it isn’t same as marriage. If people wanted to be married they would be, I don’t know why people who are not married should be called married.

    • Anna says:

      It’s bonkers to me, on instagram memes so many women in the comments were saying that Bradley Cooper or any man is free game if they aren’t married, even if they live with a partner and have kids with them. Disgusting.

    • Bubble bee says:

      People cohabitate and have kids all the time. It’s literally not the same as becoming one entity who’s legally attached to each other for years to come. Marriage is literally making yourself family to someone. I don’t see how that can be called “a piece of paper”. Marriage can have real negative ramifications for people. Even when you divorce you can still find yourself attached to someone in legal and financial ways. That’s a real commitment. I think it’s funny that people not actually willing to take that step want to be seen as having the same level of commitment when the stakes are clearly so much lower for them.

    • Jb says:


      Some people see marriage as more than a piece of paper while some don’t necessarily believe they need to get married in order to be committed to their partner. Different strokes for different folks…isn’t it great tho how people can do what they like and believe in what they believe in without ppl having to tear one belief/way of life down in order to praise another??

    • Veronica S. says:

      Eh, it can matter a lot if the relationship falls apart when it comes time to split the assets or suss out custody agreements. Not every state has laws protecting domestic partnerships. I agree that marriage license won’t keep a marriage together, but there’s a reason LGBT+ people have fought for the right to marry. It carries significant legal ramifications and privileges.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    I follow him on Twitter. He doesn’t hold back so the shirts on SNL came as no surprise

  3. Thea says:

    I LOVE him. Such a smart and likable guy!

  4. BlueSky says:

    Don Cheadle is definitely underrated. I don’t think he won an Oscar, he was just nominated. Also he’s not afraid to engage all those Trumpeteers who come for him on Twitter.

    • Steff says:

      His performance in Hotel Rwanda is 10x better than any best actor win in the past 10 years.

      • Anna says:

        Pure brilliance. That movie was incredible and devastating. I was so glad for the light it shone on the Rwandan Holocaust. Words cannot express how brilliant he was in that. God, I wish people who actually deserved Oscars would win them…

  5. smcollins says:

    Love Don Cheadle! Small correction, though, @celebitchy. He was nominated for BA for HR but he didn’t win. He will one day, I have no doubt.

  6. SM says:

    Oh my God, that t-shirt is bonkers! Love him for that and not only for that. He is very underrated actor. I laughed hard at his “Don, move out of the shot” story.

    • Pandy says:

      Yes, the move out of the shot story was awesome lolll. I also loved that they want to pick apart outfits and can’t due to the likes of us lipreading comments lolll.

  7. Lucy2 says:

    Great actor and a good man.

  8. Insomniac says:

    Another vote for following him on Twitter. He’s funny, sharp, thoughtful, and takes crap from no one.

  9. Jess says:

    He’s so awesome.

  10. Marjorie says:

    He was one of the producers on Crash, so doesn’t he have a Best Picture Oscar?

  11. TQB says:

    I adore him, and Hotel Rwanda is one of those films that just sticks with me – I probably remember more details about it than films I saw last year. Amazing effort that was not properly rewarded.

    • Veronica S. says:

      It’s a hard film to watch. It haunted me for days after seeing it. I still can’t believe it walked away empty-handed from so many award shows, but that was the year everybody was fawning over “Million Dollar Baby,” so it didn’t stand a chance in any of the major categories.

    • Grant says:

      The woman who played his wife in that movie, Sophie Okonedo, was fantastic too. I think she was also nominated for an Oscar that year. Great film!

      • Tiffany says:

        Sophie should be….bigger. I know she is still doing television in Britain but she should be everywhere.

      • TheOtherSam says:

        She just received a CBE from Queen EII herself the other day at Buck Palace, there were photos online. She looked wonderful and thrilled to get the honor. Well deserved.

  12. Michelle says:

    I really like him! He seems like a really decent guy which is a rarity in Hollywood these days.

  13. Skwinkee says:

    He is so good in House of Lies if you like dark raunchy comedy series. Kirsten Bell is in it and I finally got the hype!! (This is before The Good Place)

  14. MaryK says:

    Please, Don Cheadle fans, don’t sleep on THE GUARD. It is a great movie with a terrible name. Cheadle is a by the books FBI officer sent to rural Ireland to work with the local police force (The Guarda) to intercept an arriving cocaine shipment. He’s partnered with Boyle, a local sergeant who drinks, whores, and does drugs while on duty, much to Cheadle’s horror. Of course, Boyle is cleverly solving the case all the while. Boyle is played by Brendan Gleeson, Mad Eye Moody from the Harry Potter films.

    The film manages to serve many audiences. I saw it just outside Boston. The theater had three groups, the Black community showing up for Cheadle, the white haired Irish folk there for Gleeson and the scenery, and the indie crime film crowd. Everybody was definitely looking around before the film, because the audience makeup was so unusual. But everybody laughed, and it was great to hear different people laughing in different places. My brother works for Homeland Security in DC. I told him he had to see the film. He said all his friends loved it and couldn’t believe how hard it dunked on the FBI. Recently we got talking about the film again, recommending it to a friend who hadn’t seen it. My brother said he was amazed that the FBI guys he knew loved it, because it showed the FBI succeeding despite having to work with all these crazy people. It’s a bit violent for my mother, but I’m considering watching it, timing the bits that would be too much for her, then watching it with her, fast forwarding through the bloody stuff.

    • Jerusha says:

      Thanks for the recommendation!❤️ I just checked and my library has it. Picking it up this afternoon.
      P. S. I fit in all three of those groups you mentioned.😁

    • Scotchy says:

      I love this movie!! So glad you mentioned it!! I actually saw it in theatres when it came out.
      Don Cheadle is fantastic!1

  15. TeamAwesome says:

    Meanwhile, I had no idea you had to buy tickets the Oscars. Huh.

    • Veronica S. says:

      I would imagine nominees get priority seating, and then depending on list status, I’d imagine a fair number of them are given a limited number of tickets for family or partners. Everyone else, though, is paying for the privilege of being there – and fair enough, that’s a massive networking opportunity.

    • MaryK says:

      Tickets are sold to Academy members. The normal course of things is that these $500 (and up!) seats are purchased by studios, production companies, talent agencies, PR firms, and then passed on to the people who will actually be going to the Oscars as the “talent.” (And yes, studio execs, agents, and PR execs are eligible to become academy members.) . I don’t know for sure, but assume that the sponsors, aka companies buying big chunks of advertising on the show are able to buy tickets too. American figure skating medalists are usually at the Oscars the year they win. William Morris Agency owns IMG, which packages the major professional figure skating events and TV shows. So they get the figure skaters tickets to the Oscars to showcase that they are now world class celebrities, not just famous athletes. (And to show them off to advertisers who might hire them.)

      Cheadle just joined the Academy, and his wife wanted to go, so he ponied up and bought the tickets, rather than hunt around for someone willing to give them to him. Probably the wisest $1000+ dollars spent. It really didn’t seem strange at all that he was there. I saw him in all sorts of gossip and fashion round ups of the ceremonies. Hoping someone who saw Cheadle there immediately thought of him for one of their 2021 Oscar contenders.

      It does seem really strange that Cheadle is just joining. I had always heard that nominees, especially in the major categories, were automatically invited to join. If Cheadle didn’t get invited for his Hotel Rwanda nomination, then that show the Academy’s treatment of black actors has indeed been fuked up and bullshite. Here’s hoping that things are indeed better. Which will be somewhat proven by Cheadle winning an Oscar!

    • oddly says:

      It’s not obvious but I think Don is talking about ‘the first time he went to the Oscars’ not the most recent Oscars he must have been at least once before 2019 because he was nominated for Hotel Rwanda 15years ago he would have been there then and he was also with his ‘wife’ then.

  16. shells_bells says:

    I’m loving Black Monday and definitely recommend watching. The costuming (and hair) is particularly great!

  17. oddly says:

    The thing I remember him for out side movies is his bagging of George Clooney (he was in the three Oceans movies with him). George is know for his juvenile over the top practical jokes Don obviously did not appreciate them and when a reporter asked him if George ever played one on him he said “George and I have an agreement, he doesn’t play pratical jokes on me and I don’t burn his house down”.

  18. holly hobby says:

    Most underrated actor ever and a decent human being. He is an example of how you can leave your work at work and still live your own life w/o paps following you.