But Cheadle went further, also directing and cowriting Miles Ahead. "From a very young age I was into Miles Davis' music," he says. "His was the music that I grew up listening to, that my parents listened to. It was something that was central in my music life always. So I really wanted to make a movie that Miles would have wanted to see. I knew that we had to find a new way of telling a story that was different from what people expected, just like Miles kept changing his music."

Don Cheadle plays Miles Davis

To do this, Cheadle set out to make a movie that was more "dynamic and creative" than a traditional biopic. Since there are already documentaries and books tracing the key moments in Davis' life, Cheadle focussed on Davis' silent period and how he came back to reclaim his music, paralleling that story with his 10-year relationship with his wife Frances Taylor Davis. 

"I wanted to do something that felt impressionistic and expansive," Cheadle says. "Frances [played by Emayatzy Corinealdi] can be doing a pirouette toward Miles in the past and Dave Brill [a journalist played by Ewan McGregor] can finish her fall in the present, Miles looses Frances in a sort of a spin and then it wakes Dave out of a dream. I wanted you to feel like you are walking around Miles Davis' brain."

Mastering the trumpet was Cheadle's biggest challenge. "I had a couple of good instructors," he says. "But it was mostly me spending hours with that unrelenting, mean instrument, playing every day. It was important to me that I was out there trying to reach Miles and pulling Miles toward me, and we met somewhere in the middle out there. Playing trumpet was an important part of it."

So has he caught the directing bug? "I have been offered jobs to direct since this which is great," Cheadle says. "I'll probably take it on after a long nap."

Watch the trailer for Miles Ahead: