In a new interview with GQ, the 58-year-old shed light on joining the MCU in 2010’s Iron Man 2, which saw him step in for Terrence Howard as James “Rhodey” Rhodes aka War Machine.
“I was at my kid’s laser tag birthday party, and they called me and said, ‘This is what’s happening, we’re giving you the offer. If you don’t say yes, we’re going to the next person, this has to be—this is gonna happen very fast,’” he recalled. “So they said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and take an hour and decide if you want to do it?’”
He added, “It was a six-movie deal. I was like, ‘In an hour I have to decide? But like, what are the other movies?’ They’re like, ‘It’s gonna be these Avengers, these many [Iron Man films], this is what it is, so you kinda have to say yes or no, if you’re in or out.’”
When Cheadle asked Marvel to provide him with details regarding the arc his character would take, the studio merely responded, “We can’t, we don’t know any of that. But this is what it is, so you’ve got an hour.”
To accommodate the birthday party, the powers that be doubled Cheadle’s minuscule window to decide. “So we played laser tag for two hours. And I was talking to my wife, and we just kind of thought about it and talked to my agent and tried to get as much information as we could and...said, ‘Okay, we’ll do it,’” he remembered.
As for what he’s learned from his time in the MCU, Cheadle concluded that even amid heavy CGI and special effects, he’s “trying to do the same thing always, which is to try and create believable circumstances for your character to step into, inside your own head so that you believe what it is you’re doing, and then the audience can believe.”
Watch Don Cheadle’s full interview with GQ up top; they also speak on the Ocean’s movies, Hotel Rwanda, Boogie Nights, and last month’s White Noise, among others.