Even though Don Cheadle is an award-winning celebrated actor, it wasn’t smooth sailing to land a Marvel role. It’s a hefty commitment, after all. Still, when Cheadle got the call that Marvel wanted him to play James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, he only had the length of one laser tag game in order to make the decision. Does this sound a bit like a Disney Channel Original Moie premise to you? Maybe! But it happened.
While reflecting on the character, Cheadle told GQ that he almost didn’t land it due to some poorly-timed phone calls. “I was at my kid’s laser tag birthday party. They called me and said, ‘This is what’s happening and we’re giving you the offer. If you don’t say yes then we’re going to the next person. This is going to happen very fast,’” Cheadle recalled. He then said he was given an hour to decide, which gave him enough time to destroy the competition at his child’s birthday party.
He added, “So we played laser tag for two hours and I was talking to my wife and we thought about it and talked to my agent and tried to get as much information as we could.” Of course, early on in Marvel’s beginning phases, they probably didn’t know where the franchise was going, but this was around the time of Iron Man 2, when Marvel was really getting its bearings.
The Marvel team reportedly told him: “It’s going to be these ‘Avengers’ and this is what it is, so you have to say yes or no…this is what it is and you’ve got an hour.” Obviously, Cheadle took the role and went on to play Rhodes/War Machine in six Marvel films and multiple shows.
Next up, Cheadle will lead Armor Wars, his own Marvel film. It’s really good he decided to take that call, though maybe it was bad for his flourishing laser tag career. We will never know.