“Po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is bor­ing, man. Just be­cause you use a dif­fer­ent word just means you’re hid­ing bet­ter”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

“mostly about the weather”.

Early award-win­ning turns in Devil in a Blue Dress and Boo­gie Nights proved he was a heavy­weight con­tender, but the re­la­tion­ships he forged at Steven Soder­bergh’s Sec­tion 8 pro­duc­tion com­pany were about more than net­work­ing. Chea­dle and chums Ge­orge Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Da­mon – all erst­while stars of the Ocean’s se­ries – rep­re­sent a new, glob­ally minded kind of Hol­ly­wood player.

“I think it’s some­thing we dis­cov­ered in each other’s com­pany,” says Chea­dle. “We have sim­i­lar con­cerns. And we’ve been able to put to­gether or­gan­i­sa­tions to try to ad­dress those things. And the beat goes on. It’s not a one-off thing. Be­cause the kind of is­sues we’re talk­ing about too of­ten get some at­ten­tion and then none. That, and we’re all in it for the money, you know.”

His work on Terry Ge­orge’s 2004 Rwan­dan civil war drama Ho­tel Rwanda was a par­tic­u­lar turn­ing point. Chea­dle, a tire­less cam­paigner for the end of geno­cide in Dar­fur, was named as an En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram Good­will Am­bas­sador by the UN last year.

“It’s a full-time concern. It’s not some celebrity thing. It oc­cu­pies a lot of my brain. Ev­ery year we’re do­ing some­thing with fundrais­ing or some­thing to move the nee­dle. But it’s dif­fi­cult. Things are very frac­tious at the minute. It’s al­ways wait and see. The sta­bil­ity is just not there yet. There are so many vari­ables. But the big gen­eral pic­ture is about jus­tice and char­ity and power-shar­ing. That re­quires ef­fort and par­tic­i­pa­tion from world lead­ers. And that, un­for­tu­nately, has been slow in com­ing. The money is im­por­tant, but it’s not as im­por­tant as fa­cil­i­tat­ing po­lit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions.“

De­spite his glam­orous chums, Chea­dle has raised his teenage daugh­ters in or­di­nary south Cal­i­for­nia sub­urbs and swears that play­dates with Matt Da­mon’s fam­ily aren’t as Hol­ly­wood as they sound.

“We do hang out with the Da­mons a lit­tle bit, but they’re even more low-key than we are,” laughs Chea­dle. “If we lived in that world I could see how it could be a prob­lem rais­ing teenagers. But we don’t party. We’re not jet-set. And even if we were, my teenagers would not be im­pressed. They’re not look­ing to take ad­van­tage. They want to do their own thing. They don’t want to latch on to ac­tors or dad. They’re not im­pressed by my job or Hol­ly­wood or any of that stuff.”

And that’s prob­a­bly just as well, he ad­mits. Times are tough out there for the so­cially con­scious artist or the ac­tor look­ing to avoid tent-pole bit parts. Chea­dle, who is cur­rently be­tween meet­ings for a long-cher­ished Miles Davis pro­ject, says get­ting movies made is get­ting harder all the time.

“Miles is my main man for the last few years be­cause I’ve been study­ing his mu­sic solidly. The first record I ever wore out the grooves on was his Porgy and Bess. So I’ve al­ways been a fan. But now I’ve in­vested a lot of time for some­thing you have no guar­an­tees with. It’s not easy get­ting any movie made,” he says. “It’s a grind. There’s no rule­book. If you have James Cameron on­board and you’re aim­ing for a $150 mil­lion bud­get you can prob­a­bly get that movie made, re­gard­less of what it is. If you’ve got Will Smith and $100 mil­lion and an ac­tion script, you can prob­a­bly get that made. Other­wise, good luck.

“There are a lot of movies like The Guard out there, and all they have go­ing for them is that they’re very good. But what’s the poster? Will it sell for­eign? It’s all that stuff that gets in the way.”

He’s hopeful that The Guard will buck the sys­tem, though he will re­quire some ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion should the de­mand for a se­quel arise.

“I think prob­a­bly the big­gest cul­tural dif­fer­ence be­tween you guys and us is that it’s not manda­tory to drink Guin­ness ev­ery day in the United States. I do hope that for an Amer­i­can and a neo­phyte I ac­quit­ted my­self all right. Be­cause I love, love, love Guin­ness. I started look­ing for­ward to wrap­ping ev­ery night so I could start get­ting them in. And some­times, on this par­tic­u­lar shoot, we didn’t wait un­til quit­ting time. It’s a slip­pery slope, your coun­try.”

Iron Man 2; Ocean’s Ham­burger Hill

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