Kill the Trumpet Player is the name of Don Cheadle’s first directorial undertaking. Co-written by the well-known actor (Crash, Iron Man 3, Hotel Rwanda) and starring Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Trainspotting) and Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek Into Darkness) alongside Cheadle himself, the film will focus on a particularly tumultuous period of Miles Davis’ life and career following the 1975 Newport Jazz Festival, when the renowned Jazz musician began to replace musical performance and creation with heroine usage, an ongoing addiction that would presumably lead to the legend’s early death in 1991.
The Hollywood Reporter has got its hands on a bit more of the specifics of the plot, writing that the film concerns itself with “a few dangerous days in the life of Miles Davis, as he bursts out of his silent period and conspires with a Rolling Stone writer (McGregor) to steal back his music.”
It is no secret that in recent times biopics have contributed to a large portion of industry output, with high-profile films including Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips, and Saving Mr. Banks. Yet, despite (or possibly due to) the apparent popularity of this genre of filmmaking, Cheadle speaks of a desire and need to change the way it is done. He writes:
“I hope with this film we can kill the biopic. This film won’t try to give a broad overview of Davis’ life and give shrift to this man’s story. For us as creative people, the time of his life that was most interesting was the five years when he wasn’t playing, when he was silent. What was going on in his mind? And how did he come out of it and return to music?”
Interestingly, George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor, Notorious), a director with experience in successful biopic filmmaking, is also working on a film focused on Davis. With Tillman’s film reportedly aligning with the tried-and-proven biopic formula currently found in most films of the genre, the comparison of public response to two films with the same subject matter, yet varying in form, will hopefully do well to put Cheadle’s strong assertions to the test.