Don Cheadle on ‘Iron Man 3′, Robert Downey Jr. and ‘The Avengers’

Marvel's Iron Man 3 Premiere

Don Cheadle’s been on a pretty intense world tour for “Iron Man 3,” and it’s beginning to wear on him. “I’m beat, but you know. It’s the home stretch,” he offers with a shrug as we sit down to start our interview. That home stretch, by the way, is nothing to sneeze at: “We leave Thursday for New York, Toronto, it just goes on,” he says. But when you’re promoting one of the biggest superhero franchises on the planet — playing James “Rhodey” Rhodes, who suits up as Iron Man’s government-sanctioned counterpart Iron Patriot — this kind of schedule is par for the course.

With a movie this size, I guess it’s what you signed up for.
Yeah, you forget that. It’s like having a baby for a woman, you know. If I could remember this every time I did a movie, I’d probably just quit. (laughs)

How was it different for you as an actor having Shane Black directing compared to Jon Favreau?
Well, having Shane be the writer of the piece, there’s a lot more of a shorthand a lot quicker sort of availability to the writer when we’re going over the scenes and going through the scenes. There’s a lot of improv that happens, but the improv is in sort of a controlled playground.

The humor level in this one seems amped up, especially between you and Robert Downey Jr.
There’s more of it. I think if you look at the second movie, when we’re in the Japanese garden at the end, you kind of see where it’s headed. You see us starting that whole process at that point, and I think this is just sort of the further culmination of that. And I think there’s more that could be mined, and we’ll see if there’s anything that’s going to happen afterward. But yeah, it was nice to have the opportunity to really find some more colors in their relationship.

It’s been mentioned that you really should show up in the Avengers at some point.
Who mentioned that? Oh wait, me. [Laughs] The movies, the family of Marvel movies, have been faithful to their own mythology, not necessarily to what the comic book dictates. You know, in the comic book Rhodey is in the Marines, Iron Patriot is a completely different character. So there’s a contained sort of mythology that the movies answer to, and that’s something that Marvel is continuously creating. So yeah, he might show up, I don’t know. I’d be down for it.

Is there anything you can do to lobby for that?
No, but you can get on it. Just park yourself outside of Kevin Feige’s house.

I’m sure that will go over very well.
Well, get your friends. Don’t just do it by yourself. That’s not enough. That’s weird.

How does the balance between making your TV show, “House of Lies,” and your film work?
It’s great. I mean, the show is a blitzkrieg when we’re doing it. It’s three months and we’re shooting an episode per five days, which is really, really fast. But it’s a testament to the production team behind us and our director, Stephen Hopkins, the writers and the network as well that we’re able to get through it. And it’s three months out of the year, so it’s pretty self-contained, and then I have the rest of the year to do the other things. I have a production company that’s pretty healthy right now, we’re doing a lot of stuff with them. And I try to get in some family time and rest and all that. I have a daughter on her way to college, so that’s cool. So I’m pretty happy, it’s been a nice balance so far.

And how much time does that leave to camp outside Kevin Feige’s house?
That’s what you’re going to do. You have to ask yourself that question. Get on it, it’s important.

Maybe this is brilliant marketing on Showtime’s part, or maybe I just have a simple brain, but I can’t drive past the L.A. diner House of Pies without thinking of your show.
It’s your brain. [Laughs] Now, that would be marketing. I should just buy the franchise.


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