I would rather be Don Cheadle than George Clooney

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doncheadleOne of the best parts of building a business is fantasizing for hours about the heights of fame you will achieve.  You imagine giving a warm, familiar hug to Oprah, or Jon Stewart, or seeing your face plastered on a gigantic  billboard in Times Square, like the one I saw of Sean “Puffy” Combs that hung about 18 floors down the side of a building.  No dose of reality tempers with this daydreaming, nor should it, as you are entitled to a whole lot of fantasy fame building for the amount of sweat and blood you pour into your business.

And so it hit me last night in the bathtub, while reading O Magazine: I would rather be Don Cheadle than George Clooney.

We all know that George has that adorable grin, flirty cock-eyed smile and the coveted title of “Sexiest Man Alive.”  He has his choice of high-profile and dollar films, cavorts with beautiful people around the world, and even finds time to contribute to meaty social issues, like ending the genocide in Darfur.

But George has to deal with being George.  He is such a huge celebrity that he is continually hounded by paparazzi.  Women continually fling themselves at him, and he is so recognizable that he must not get a moment’s rest in public.

Don Cheadle, on the other hand, is pure understated cool.  He effortlessly blends with Hollywood hunkie heavyweights like Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and George, in the Ocean’s # movie series.  He participates in intelligent flicks like Traffic with Benicio del Toro (another cool cat, but a bit too disheveled and wild for my fame fantasies), Crash (which he also co-produced), and Hotel Rwanda, for which he garnered an Oscar nomination.

Not to be outdone by George, he co-authored a New York Times bestselling book on Darfur, entitled Not on Our Watch:  The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond.

Although of course I don’t know him personally, he seems the kind of person that would be great to have an in-depth conversation with on just about any subject.  He is smart, well-read and seems to be extremely secure with who he is.  He doesn’t need to be the center of attention, but is the person everyone invites as a critical ingredient to their party.

So he doesn’t make as much money as the true “A-List” celebrities.  After a certain point, how much money do you really need?

OK, so I am not a man, and not an actor.  But for the flavor of fame
that I like to fantasize about, Don Cheadle does it for me all the way.

Who is the celebrity that you would most like to pattern your entrepreneurial fame after?

Is your model a flaming, exuberant daredevil like Richard Branson, a business-savvy yet soulful diva like Oprah, an in-your-face bad-hair-be-damned mogul like Donald Trump or a world-saving mega hot momma like Angelina Jolie?

Humor me, people. I like to think that I am not the only one who spends precious, valuable productive time thinking about things like this.

photo by Katy Winn/Corbis

17 Responses to “I would rather be Don Cheadle than George Clooney”

  1. Ace says:

    @Matt Langdon: you should really get your hearing checked, it the worst attempt at an accent ever filmed

  2. Millie says:

    I don’t know Don Cheadle but I like his recent efforts to bring attention to the genocide in Darfur. It takes a lot of personal integrity for a person who is so priviledged to dedicate some of his time to the affairs of those less fortunate.

  3. Well, as far as Cheadle’s problems with fame goes, there was the time in 2002 I went to a friend’s wedding, saw Don Cheadle walking through the tiny parking lot at the reception hall, and I SCREAMED “Oh My God, It’s MOUSE!! I mean Don Cheadle!” and then hid behind my car because I was so embarrassed. Apparently he was friends with the groom. His friends kept poking him in the side and laughing every time they saw me at the reception too…but I guess everyone has a star they idolize, and he has always been mine as well.

  4. Kit Brown says:

    I agree. Fame is highly overrated. I would rather change the world in quiet yet profound ways than be so famous that I couldn’t go out to a restaurant, take a walk with my dog, or gain 5 pounds without people getting in my face or snapping inopportune photos.

  5. I think I would like to be Don Cheadle half the week, and Philip Seymour Hoffman the other half. (It doesn’t hurt that I’ve seen Hoffman madly biking through NYC with a goofy cap on his head.)

    But I love anyone who, to use a superhero term, “uses his powers for good,” and still seems to live on this earth. And we all have powers. And we all can use them for good.

  6. Well, George does have a very nice house on Lake Como… but then again, so do I!

  7. Nikole Gipps says:

    I think that dreaming is good … but some days I just want to figure out what the real me wants to be. Can I give myself Oprah’s spirit but Angelina’s body … okay, the body she had before she got super skinny?

  8. Tim says:

    I like Jamie Oliver’s style – a guy who is ~so~ where he was meant to be, and very sucessful as a result, but too busy working on his next big idea to get caught up in the fame game.

  9. Phoenix AZ says:

    This is cliche..but Christopher Walken.

    I agree with you about your comparison of Cheadle to Clooney.

  10. robert says:

    Quote: but cheadle has the worst fake english accent since dick van dyke…End Quote

    Errr it is actually bloody good! Like Hugh Laurie in House, who I think pulls off a remarkable American accent but you guys might hear what we cannot and think it is just a load of tosh. You might ask why he did not retain his English Oxford accent.

    Well, you might like to note that Hugh fooled the producers at his audition for House. They thought he was American!

    Apparently he walked in and from the get go used his version of the American accent. They did not know otherwise.

    And I reckon Don can pull it off here in UK too and many, many Brits will not realise he is not an Englishman. I really do.

  11. Matt Langdon says:

    I like Johnny Depp’s fame. I like that he doesn’t abuse it. He can accumulate it in bucket loads, whether it’s 21 Jump Street or Pirates and then go and do something completely obscure, but still be Johnny Depp. He stays true to himself and fame is just something that happens to him along the way – that’s what I’d like to happen to me.

  12. Drew (Prague) says:

    To answer your question – Beck Hansen.

    Cool, off beat, innovative, multi-talented, interdisciplinary, Absurdist, prodigious (!) with a showman’s flair.

    Oh yeah, and commercially successful while doing all that!

    PS – If Don Cheadle’s in a movie, I’ll watch it, review unseen. And his Mockney effin n blindin in Oceans’ cracked me up. Rock!

  13. lilalia says:

    Definitely Don Cheadle for his mix of the light-hearted, socially provocative,and dead serious… though not having as much media exposure as George Clooney, isn’t saying much. Mr. Cheadle probably has to deal with far more than he would wish for.

    I remember reading an article (the New Yorker?) of the top 100 successful people in their professional fields who you would never recognize. These were people who invented great devices, headed important institutions, were explorers, but they all lived under the radar of popular media hounding. The interviews in the article pointed out how wealthy (millions, not billions), active, successful, and motivated they were to carve out a bigger piece of the pie. In my day dreams, I always thought what a joy it would be to belong on that list.

  14. Chip Warden says:

    I love Mr. Cheadle. His NFL Playoffs commercials are wonderful (not to mention his movies). Plus, he’s from Kansas City — as is Chris Cooper (another celebrity who seems to be a “real” person).

  15. Keith Handy says:

    It’s funny that you went with this topic today; my last three posts have been about fame (and obscurity), but rather than light-hearted daydreaming, I’m grappling with it in a soul-searching manner. Or at least that’s what I *think* I’m doing…

  16. Ed Lee says:

    but cheadle has the worst fake english accent since dick van dyke…

    OK, OK, so he isn’t perfect. Another reason to like him! 🙂


  17. Bill Reid says:

    I’m a Cheadle fan as well. He gave a great interview on IFC’s Henry Rollins Show #309. They run repeats, so you might catch it if you get the channel.