Actor Don Cheadle, who plays War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, has said that he had two hours to decide whether he wanted the part or not. The role was previously played by Terrence Howard in the first Iron Man movie, but the actor was removed from the franchise because of contractual disputes.
Cheadle recalled the story in an interview to the AV Club. He said, “I was actually at my kid’s birthday party—a laser tag party—and I got a call from my agent, and they said, ‘Hey, so I want to connect you to these Marvel guys. They want to talk to you, but they want to offer you the part.’ I don’t think it was (Kevin) Feige. I don’t know who was on the phone. But they said, ‘Hey, this is the role. We want you to do this. It’s a six-picture deal.’ I was like, ‘What?! Oh, uh, okay…’ And I’m trying to do the math. I’m like, ‘That’s 11 or 12 years. I’m not sure.’ And they’re like, ‘Well, we need to know, because if you’re not saying yes, then we’re gonna move on to the next person. So you’ve got an hour.’”
Cheadle, who has played War Machine in the MCU for a decade, continued, “An hour to decide 12 years, and a role and parts that I don’t even know, in movies that are coming down that I have no idea what they’ll be. I said, ‘I’m at my kid’s laser tag party right now.’ They said, ‘Oh! Oh, take two hours.’ So generous! So I go back inside, and I’m ducking behind things, playing laser tag, and talking to my wife. I’m like, ‘Should I take a flier on this? Is this something I should do?’ And she said, ‘Well, yeah, I guess so. All things being equal, this is that kind of thing. You’ve never done anything like this before. Big special effects, tent pole, four-quadrant movie. Do you want to do something like this?’ I said, ‘I kind of do.’ She said, ‘Well, then take a flier. Let’s do it. Try it.’”
Also read: When Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man co-star Terrence Howard blamed him for Marvel ouster: ‘He took money that was supposed to go to me’
Cheadle, did, however, mention that he’d tried out for the part when it was first being cast as well. Hinting at the drama that unfolded during Howard’s removal he said, “Early on, I had met on that role, and there were different factions and producers who wanted me and others that wanted Terrence, and the biggest voice in the room for that won, and Terrence got the part. Which was great. I thought he was great in the first (Iron Man). And then through some stuff that is well-documented that they went through behind the scenes, it wasn’t his part anymore, so I got a call.”
While it wasn’t initially made clear why Howard would not be returning in Iron Man 2, the actor has publicly said that he felt Robert Downey Jr didn’t stand up for him when they were renegotiating contracts for the second film and took the bulk of the money for himself. “It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second one, took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out,” Howard had told Andy Cohen on his show.
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