Adam Sandler has the showy part in Reign Over Me as the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder survivor. Don Cheadle plays his old college roommate who helps him come back to life. He still has his own issues too, with a lawsuit pending at work and a distance growing between himself and his wife, played by Jada Pinkett Smith.
Don Cheadle on Reign Over Me
"It was kind of interesting to me," said Cheadle. "I personally liked that my character went from, and there was a lot of debate between Jada’s character and my character in the movie, that it went from a very selfish standpoint to growing and being real concerned about someone who was friend. At first it was just a way to get out of the house and escape and great excuse. 'No, he’s in pain.' Really it was about 'I want to have some fun and play some video games and play drums.' I thought it was a great progression from someone who was completely selfish and was really vampiring off of his needs and to realize no this is something that’s actually important."
Even though Cheadle had more experience at heavy drama than Sandler, he had just as many questions about his character. "There wasn’t a day when we showed up on set where we just had a scene and we said, ‘Okay that’s the scene. Let’s go shoot it.’ We would always be talking about the nuances of the scene, the ways to get things out of it and kind of talking about our own relationships. ‘Okay, how does it down at your house? This is how it goes down at my house. How does it go down at your house so I can try to find the best way to realize this relationship?’"
Reign Over Me
Reign Over Me
There are lighter moments in the film, including a montage where Cheadle and Sandler just jam on the drums and guitar. "Mike [Binder] said, 'And then you guys have a jam session.' How do you direct exactly what to do? As soon as I met Adam there was an immediate friendship and it’s just kicked off and it’s been that way since. There’s another scene in the movie theatre where I really almost peed on myself laughing. That’s one of the hardest things to do in a movie. It’s much easier to cry or be angry, but to really laugh and genuinely be buoyant and laugh. That’s hard if you don’t really feel that way and we would just look at each other and it would just kick off. So that was another great part of the film was to have a movie about rekindling friendships and happen to actually like the guy you’re going to do that with."
Cheadle did his own stunts too, as he had to ride on the back of a scooter driven by Sandler's character. "Well, a funny thing happened on our way to the scooter. About six weeks before I started on this movie, I tore my Achilles so there was a lot of questions as far as was I going to be able to walk and run around, things I had to do in the movie and the scooter was a potential liability and especially the Adam drove it. So, it was a little scary but it was a hell of a lot of fun to ride it."