According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cheadle has acquired the rights to the 2015 book Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire, written by Shane White. The book has won the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic’s best book prize and the 2016 New York City Book Award. As he has obtained the rights to both film and television, it has yet to be seen whether Cheadle will tackle the biography via a feature film or limited series, but it seems he has the intention to both produce and star in the project.
Steve Baigelman will adapt the book into a screenplay. Cheadle has previously worked with Baigelman on the 2015 film Miles Ahead. Baigelman also created the 2015 television series Wicked City for ABC.
Jeremiah Hamilton was a man who lived during the industrial revolution, and was one of the first black men to do big business with both white and black customers. Born in the West Indies (just like Alexander Hamilton) Jeremiah Hamilton was said to have come from parents who originated from Port-au-Prince, and as such spoke fluent French. Living in New York as an adult (yet again, like Alexander Hamilton), his business practices earned him the nickname of “The Prince of Darkness”, alluding not only to his dark skin, but allegedly to his ‘devilish’ ways. According to newspapers of the time period, his arch rival was industrialist tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. Hamilton married a white woman named Eliza (Eliza Hamilton. Another Hamilton similarity). Hamilton did not escape the rampant racism of the 1800s, being the victim of libel, as well as attempted lynches. By the time of his death in 1875, he was known to be the richest black man in America.
Unfortunately for Cheadle, John Carpenter made a 1987 horror film titled Prince of Darkness, which was the second film of his Apocalypse trilogy. Given that the title Prince of Darkness has been used, it is yet to be seen whether Cheadle can keep the title, or if he will have to modify it.
Cheadle was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Hotel Rwanda, and won a Golden Globe for his leading role in Showtime’s House of Lies, for which he has been nominated three times. He is probably most well-known for his role of James Rhodes (aka War Machine) in both Marvel’s Iron Man franchise and Captain America franchise.