Five Favorite Films with Don Cheadle

We chat with the star of Traitor, on DVD this week.

In last August's Traitor, Don Cheadle took on the challenge of tempering a Bourne-like action hero with the moral ambiguity of real world concerns: namely, terrorism and the Muslim identity. And who better to portray the conflicting identities of American spy and fundamentalist defector than the Oscar-nominated Cheadle, one of a handful of actors capable of sympathetically depicting such hot-button polarities?

Rotten Tomatoes spoke via email with Cheadle about his favorite films, his interest in Traitor, his thoughts on Darfur and more. Traitor is released on DVD December 19.

"I don't have five favorite films. My affinity for them changes as I change over the course of my life from child to student to professional to husband and father, etc. All the films that follow are not in any order nor etched in stone, but here goes."
-- Don Cheadle

City of God (2003, 93% Tomatometer)
City of God Today, I'll say City of God though that could change tomorrow. It is so special in its storytelling, a perfectly executed, beautifully shot, wasting nothing, brilliant acting, etc. What's not to like?

The In-Laws (1979, 83% Tomatometer)
The In-Laws It makes me pee with laughter. Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are a perfect combination and play off each other so well in this ridiculous movie. I watch it at least once a year.

Sounder (1972, 87% Tomatometer)
Sounder Another film that I saw at an impressionable time in my life that served for me as a beautiful testament to the power of love in the face of absolute injustice and oppression.

Dr. Strangelove Another perfect film showcasing the brilliance of the one and only, never to be seen again talents of Peter Sellers. What a beast. Kubrick actually wanted him to play another character. I can only imagine what he would have done with that. I'm sure he would have crushed it.

Man Facing Southeast (1986, N/A)
Man Facing Southeast It's a great meditation on how we treat and mistreat 'the other.' A magical, thought provoking film that I saw at a time in my life when I was questioning a lot of things about the nature of humanity and how we react when we come up against the unknown and unknowable.

Next: Don Cheadle explains why he was drawn to Traitor, his thoughts on the future of Darfur, and one of his favorite performances.



jack giroux

Nice picks, I definitely agree with him on Dr. Strangelove and City of God. Also Traitor was good, its a good rental.

Dec 18 - 03:28 PM


Jonn X.

Interesting list. Very diverse.

Dec 18 - 03:29 PM


kevin strawn

Pretty cool. One of the best lists I've seen.

Dec 18 - 04:04 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Pretty good. Strangelove is great, and I heard a lot of good things about City of God. With stuff like "The In-Laws" he's showing that he dosen't confrom to greats only. Not that The In-Laws is bad, just okay. His list and he likes it, so I like it.

Dec 18 - 04:16 PM


Ryan Fujitani

I'm a big Cheadle fan, and I'm actually pleasantly surprised that he calls out Rebound as one of his most enjoyable acting experiences - that was the first of his movies that I'd ever seen, and not only did I love it, but I thought he was very good in it, and hoped for a bright future for him. Lo and behold, here is now, a bona fide A-lister.

Dec 18 - 05:17 PM


Joe Barton

I like the list because of COG and Dr. Strangelove.

Dec 18 - 05:26 PM


Marc Rivers

City of God was fantastic. good pick from Cheadle

Dec 18 - 05:39 PM

Castor Troy

Derek Williams

I know this is completely irrelevant but my favorite Cheadle moment was in Fresh Prince of Bel Air when he played Ice Tray.

Dec 18 - 10:59 PM


Infernal Dude

Ice Tray! Ya! Its always fun to see great actors in early roles. Even the greats have to go through the motions. De Caprio was on Growing ****in Pains! Adrian Brodie was in Solo. Its fun because even in those lame *** flicks these actors shine. We as movie fans are given the opportunity to predict the future greats!

I'm Drunk!

Dec 19 - 12:41 AM


Matthew Bertram

I also love seeing Chaz Palminteri and William H. Macy in bit roles in Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon. Macy with feathered blonde hair and a multi-colored 80s windbreaker is hilarious.

Dec 19 - 04:07 AM


Infernal Dude

I also meant to say that City of God is a fabulous flick. I'm glad to see it on Cheadles list. It is probably (after Shawshank Redemption) one of the most emotionally impacting flicks I've ever seen. It stuck with me for a long time. As any great movie or flick should.

Still drunk!

Dec 19 - 12:45 AM


Matthew Bertram

I also love seeing Chaz Palminteri and William H. Macy in bit roles in Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon. Macy with feathered blonde hair and a multi-colored 80s windbreaker is hilarious.

Dec 19 - 04:07 AM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

I had just rewatched season 1 of Fresh Prince and was compelled to ask Cheadle about it. Too bad he didn't have fonder memories of that highly entertaining guest role. Hilary could have been so happy if she and Tray had only kept the fire going...

Dec 19 - 09:40 AM


Thomas Hester

How can there be only 1 film before 1972 and none before 1964? What about "A night at the opera"? or ...

Dec 19 - 10:14 AM


Connor Botko

i like this list, very unique.

Dec 19 - 10:20 AM


Ryan Fujitani

I remember William H. Macy in The Last Dragon, but I have no recollection of Chazz Palminteri! I'll have to keep an eye out for him next time I watch it.

Dec 19 - 02:38 PM


Joshua Mills

Never saw Traitor. I will eventually. Maybe.

Dec 19 - 04:32 PM


Jonathan Groen

The In-Laws is a great pick, especially with the scene with Alan Arkin and the firing squad. Hilarious!

Dec 20 - 06:03 PM


Connor McBride

City of God is my favorite film of all time! Great list

Dec 22 - 09:47 AM


Greg Guro

Cheadle's great. Did he or his publicist make it a point that you couldn't ask any hard questions about IRON MAN?

I like how he mentions Sounder, and he intuitively knows that part of what makes a film our favorite is the effect it has on us at a certain point in our lives. I just bought my neice "Secret of Roan Inish" and I hope it'll become one of her all time favorite films due in large part to her age.

Dec 22 - 10:48 AM

Panduka S.

Panduka Sayakkara

Don Cheadle is the man...... Oceans 11,12,13, Hotel Rewanda, Even swordfish.. He's awsome.

Dec 28 - 09:15 AM

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