Don Cheadle is miles ahead of the pack when it comes to a Miles Davis biopic.
The Oscar nominee is atop the wish list of actors being considered to play the late jazz god in a planned movie project, according to Davis' nephew, Vince Wilburn, who broke the news after his uncle was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday night.
"People are submitting scripts to Sony Pictures," Wilburn told reporters. "A few names have come up [to play Davis], but Don Cheadle's name keeps coming up."
An unmatched trumpeter, composer and bandleader, Davis churned out one seminal album after another from the 1940s on and inspired generations of musicians by knocking down borders between jazz and other genres, including rock, funk, fusion and pop music.
Wilburn says the movie "could touch on many things, [such as] the way he changed music in different decades, from Bird to bebop to hip-hop and in between."
Like the critical and commercial hit biopics Ray and Walk the Line, the Davis film will likely mine Davis' music while delving into his personal demons, most notably a serious addiction to heroin. The film might also touch on his prickly personality and "cool" mystique, and include such scenarios as his beat-down at the hands of New York City police outside the Birdland jazz club, which led to an unsuccessful suit against the city claiming the attack was racially motivated.
After dabbling in bebop as a sideman to Charlie Parker and then on his own with 1949's Birth of the Cool, he formed the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring fellow jazz great John Coltrane, for 1955's Round About Midnight. His most fertile period followed, producing 1957's Miles Ahead, 1958's Porgy and Bess, 1959's Kind of Blue and 1960's Sketches of Spain.
Inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, Davis went electric in the late 1960s, fusing jazz and rock with the polarizing albums Bitch's Brew (1969) and A Tribute to Jack Johnson (1970), and touring with Santana and the Grateful Dead.
His output dwindled as he coped with numerous health issues, including kidney problems stemming from sickle-cell anemia and diabetes, but he continued to tour and release albums until his death in 1991 from a stroke.
Davis' family has yet to settle on a screenplay or a director. However, the family is in talks with Antoine Fuqua, whose best known for directing Denzel Washington to an Oscar in 2001's Training Day.
Cheadle was not available for comment Tuesday. Reps for Sony also declined to discuss the Davis project.
In any case, the actor is on a hot streak. He picked up Best Actor Oscar nomination for last year's Hotel Rwanda and costarred and coproduced this year's Best Picture winner, Crash.
Upcoming projects include The Dog Problem, a comedy directed and costarring his Ocean's Eleven buddy Scott Caan; the 9/11 drama Empty City with Adam Sandler; and Tishomingo Blues, a comedy caper based on an Elmore Leonard novel that Cheadle plans to direct and star in alongside Matthew McConaughey.