Nearly 10 years had passed since Miles Davis’ nephew Vince Wilburn declared that Don Cheadle was the only actor who could play the late jazz legend, but it wasn’t until Tuesday — when Sony Pictures Classics dropped the first trailer for Miles Ahead — that the rest of the world got a firsthand look at what Wilburn had in mind. Cheadle didn’t merely agree to star in the movie, but co-wrote and directed the film, with the initial peek promising a biopic every bit as reckless and singular as its subject. As Davis puts it at the top of the trailer: “If you gonna tell a story, come at it with some attitude, man.”
Immediately dismissing any thoughts of a typical womb-to-tomb overview of a great musician’s life, the trailer starts with (fictional) Rolling Stone journalist Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor) knocking on Davis’ door and being greeted with a swift punch to the face. Cheadle has honed in on the most frantic portion of the jazzman’s life, focusing on the spell that Davis spent in New York City during the Seventies when his genius curdled into a frustrated rage and he snorted enough cocaine to kill a small elephant.
When Davis loses track of the studio tape that will kickstart his comeback, he and Braden scramble across Manhattan to find it before it falls into the hands of a rival record label. “I’m getting my music back!” Cheadle snarls, but the high-speed shootout he and Braden find themselves in suggests that it’s not going to be easy.
Miles Ahead also stars Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12), and Austin Lyon (The Diary of a Teenage Girl). It premiered at the New York Film Festival last October, and will open in theaters on April 1st.