‘Iron Man 3′: Don Cheadle open to Rhodey recruitment for ‘Avengers 2′

April 29, 2013 | 6:30 a.m.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, left, and Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes in "Iron Man 3." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Entertainment)

Don Cheadle arrives at the U.K. premiere of "Iron Man 3" in London on April 18, 2013. (Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images)

Don Cheadle hoists his best actor in a TV comedy Golden Globe for his performance in "House of Lies" on Jan. 13, 2013. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan, left, and Megalyn Echikunwoke as April in "House of Lies." (Jordin Althaus / Showtime)

Robert Downey Jr., left, Jon Favreau and Don Cheadle on the set of "Iron Man 2." (Marvel Entertainment)

Don Cheadle, left, and Guy Pearce star in the 2008 film "Traitor." The actors reunited for "Iron Man 3." (Overture Films)

Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes has been a minor, though important, character in the “Iron Man” films, but in “Iron Man 3,” he finally gets to step into the spotlight, thanks to a star-spangled paint job, courtesy of the president.

Portrayed by Golden Globe-winning actor Don Cheadle, Rhodey is one of Tony Stark’s few trusted friends and the liaison between Stark Industries and the U.S. Air Force.

Cheadle took over the role from Terrence Howard, who introduced Rhodey to the big screen in 2008′s “Iron Man.” In “Iron Man 2,” Rhodey got his own suit, dubbed War Machine, and fought alongside Tony Stark. In “Iron Man 3,” the president orders a red, white and blue redesign for the War Machine armor and recruits Rhodes to take out the villainous Mandarin. In his new Iron Patriot getup, Rhodey fights the terrorist threat side-by-side with Stark’s Iron Man.

Hero Complex sat down with Cheadle to talk about the new armor, the relationship between Tony Stark and Rhodey, and what it means to be part of the Marvel universe.

HC: How was working on “Iron Man 3″ different than filming “Iron Man 2″?

DC: It was kind of like the more caffeinated version of “Iron Man 2.” I had a lot more to do in this film, which I was pleased about, and I got to do a lot of stuff outside of the suit. I was working with the stunt team and doing a lot of cable work, and all that stuff is fun for me. You get to play with all the best toys, you know, and to be a big kid.

Don Cheadle wears the Iron Patriot suit in "Iron Man 3." (Marvel Entertainment)

Don Cheadle wears the Iron Patriot suit in “Iron Man 3.” (Marvel Entertainment)

HC: Is it difficult to work in the suit?

DC: Yeah, and thankfully it’s not the whole movie that you’re in the suit. The suit’s very cumbersome and doesn’t articulate well. It’s a little tricky. But you know, look, all of that stuff that we do, the motion capture, the CGI, the actual physical, real suit, all of those composite elements come together to create the effect, so it’s worth it.

Don Cheadle in a poster for "Iron Man 3." (Marvel)

Don Cheadle in a poster for “Iron Man 3.” (Marvel)

HC: It seems like audiences are so cynical now. How do you think they’ll react to the Iron Patriot?

DC: I didn’t really freight myself with that. I wouldn’t say he’s openly patriotic, I would say he got a paint job that the president said he had to have, and he said, “Look, the focus group liked it.” He’s not someone who’s rah-rah-ing and saluting the flag all the time. He’s a military man, and he takes it seriously, and he does what he has to do.

HC: Do you think people will react differently to the terrorist elements of the film in the wake of the Boston attacks?

DC: I don’t know. They might. I think most people will contextualize it and understand that this is about entertainment. The first movie dealt with that terrorism aspect, and the second movie in a way did as well, so I think the “bad guys” that we’ve seen in this trilogy of movies have always been about terrorizing and terrorism and having things happen in public that are devastating and scary. So there may be a different resonance given what’s happened, but I imagine people understand that that’s already been part of the world.

HC: How was working with Shane Black different than working with “Iron Man 2″ director Jon Favreau?

DC: [With Black] as the writer, clearly, we don’t have to go out to figure out when we’re messing with the script what to do. We change right there. Many were the days that he and Robert and I were in a room tearing up a scene before we went out. It’s nice to have that sort of one-stop shopping with Shane. But you know we’re all at some point knowing that we have to link arms and get through this big, technical behemoth together.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, left, and Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes in "Iron Man 3." (James Rosenthal / Marvel Entertainment)

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, left, and Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes in “Iron Man 3.” (James Rosenthal / Marvel Entertainment)

HC: How would you describe Rhodey’s relationship with Tony?

DC: I think that they are a good counterbalance for one another. He’s clearly a grounding element for Tony, who can be flighty and fly off and just follow his imagination. And conversely, Tony is someone who kind of goads Rhodey a bit and tries to get him out of his shell, so to speak. So I think they’re a good balance for one another.

HC: There are a lot of fans out there saying Rhodey needs to get a bigger role in the Marvel films, maybe in “Avengers 2″…

DC: Then keep that going!

HC: So you’d be open to that?

DC: Yeah, when I signed on to do “Iron Man” the series, I signed on for multiple movies. And when I said yes, I understood that there could be potentially a bigger and more substantive iteration of this character down the line. So yeah, I’d be interested in it.

HC: You were nominated for an Oscar for “Hotel Rwanda.” You won two Golden Globes. How does working on this sort of big-budget popcorn movie compare to your usual fare?

DC: I think that as an actor, especially when you’re doing these big studio movies, you know what it is. It’s entertainment. And we’re there to give the audience the experience of disappearing in the dark for a couple of hours and just being transported to some other place. I’m clear about what it is. I’m fine with what it is. I get to do many different things. I’m very fortunate as an actor that I can experience many different characters and play a lot of different stuff. So it’s just one piece of the puzzle, but I’m glad. It’s a good piece.

HC: What’s next for you?

DC: I’ve got a production company and we have a couple movies we’re working on now, and a couple of TV shows that we’re developing. We go back to the TV show (“House of Lies”) in August, so I think I’m going to take a little break.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark


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2 Responses to ‘Iron Man 3′: Don Cheadle open to Rhodey recruitment for ‘Avengers 2′

  1. John W. says:

    Of course he's "up for it." That would likely easily be the biggest payday he's ever seen in his career.

  2. ed whu says:

    now, i find it interesting that Robert is tempting the idea to depart. Rhoades would be cool to do some IM stuff.. Terrance Howard did a better job, Cheadle seemed to underplay his roll as a favor to Terrance. Now i don't think he deserves the roll. I'd like to see Tony Back for IM II. (elevan)

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