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Don Cheadle on Talk to Me

Published July 10, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Focus Features.
Talk to Me Talk to Me

Simply, Talk to Me is the story of Petey Greene's rise to fame on the Washington D.C. radio waves, along with producer Dewey Hughes. The film, however, addresses many of the broader social changes of the decades from mid-1960s through the '80s. Don Cheadle plays Greene.

Don Cheadle Talks Talk to Me

"I like that it’s not a straight biopic and we’re not trying to tell the Petey Greene story or the Dewey Hughes story," said Cheadle. "It was really a story about the friendship between these two men and the triumvirate being [Green's girlfriend] Vernell as well, with a backdrop of the times and what this friendship had to come through and what they had to face and deal with and the unity they had and the disunity and the coming back together. I would hope that not just black audiences but that all audiences show up because it’s really a celebration of that friendship. I think everyone who’s seen it and comes out of it has an experience that’s not relegated merely to race or any real political issue. I just think it’s a very entertaining film that encompasses a lot."

As a producer of the film as well, like with Crash, Cheadle was able to herald into production a movie addressing social issues. "That’s purely coincidental. I mean it wasn’t a plan. It’s not like I saw Crash and went, 'Oh, that’s going to have some impact socially I want to be a part of it.' I thought, 'This is a great script and unique and I haven’t seen a movie like this ever come across my desk and I want to jump on board in anyway I can and help push it through.' It’s rare that you see movies that are different and get to that place where you as an actor read it and have the ability to jump on and try to help push it to get it made."

Once again, Cheadle buries himself in a character and we see Petey Greene, not Cheadle playing Petey Greene. But the actor is modest. "I think that’s for an audience to decide how effective it was. I think you try obviously to take the script and that’s the bible and you try do as much research as you can as far as who this person really was when you have a real life that you’re trying to depict. There’s some source material that exists, not a lot. They erased most of the radio program so those tapes were taped over and most of the television programs they did similar with them. It was before they were really archiving that type of stuff so there’s only a few clips here and there of him that exist and audio clips that exist but we had Dewey Hughes around which is a great touch. I just do the best I can and try to embody those things that were emblematic about him specifically his voice and try to just read between the lines of the research and find the true essence of who he is and not necessarily try to depict all the events as they happened exactly. You take a lot of poetic license but to try to be truthful about who he was."

Covering the decades it does, Cheadle also gets to sport some fly threads. "You know, you could really see my religion in most of those pants I wore. I didn’t take any of them home. I couldn’t wait to get out of those clothes, but it obviously helps define the character and define the era and make you feel like you’re really back there and I love that people would just go out in those clothes every day. Didn’t need a special occasion. It's like yeah, I’m going to rock the velour bell-bottoms and you know, velvet tank top, why what’s the occasion? It’s Tuesday, what do you mean why? I miss that kind of style actually."

Talk to Me has a limited release on July 13th.

For the trailer, poster, stills and additional info, go to the Talk to Me Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Focus Features.

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