Don Cheadle Talks 'Avengers: Infinity War' And Rhodey's Reluctance To Suit Up As War Machine [Set Visit Interview]

Continuing the coverage from our set visit to Avengers: Infinity War, today we bring you our sitdown roundtable interview with Don Cheadle. As you know, Cheadle plays James Rhodes, Tony Stark's government friend equipped with his own Iron suit. What role will War Machine play in this war against Thanos?

In this interview, Cheadle talks about what Rhodey has been up to since the events of Captain America: Civil War, how the character's philosophy has evolved, his current relationship with Tony Stark, dealing with the injury that was dealt to him in Civil War, working on the biggest movie of all time without having access to the script, creating moments on set, and more.

Can you start out by telling us a little bit of what the story's been from Civil War until this moment?Don Cheadle: Well, clearly there was a pretty significant moment for Rhodey at the end of Civil War, where he was accidentally shot out of the air by Vision.  Who is now my mortal enemy.  No, I think we worked it out over the break.  And now he's coming back to the Avengers, back to his team.  A little ambivalent, I think, with a new rig by Tony, which, of course, he had to put his name on.  So Tony.  Like I'm gonna not know who made them.  And he's rejoining the team and reintroduced back here in this Wakanda storyline.Do you think his philosophy at all has changed between where he was in Civil War and now?Cheadle: I think there are definitely more questions for Rhodey.  I think he was always somewhat straddling with having Tony as a friend and trying to support him and do what he needed, being outside of the lines, but still somehow trying to stay within the chain of command and the military man that he is.  So I think that's become more fraught and probably more frayed as the storylines go forward.How does Tony feel about him now working with this other team that's kind of led by a guy who he was just at odds with?Cheadle: Well, I think at the end of the day that division was not something that was really fomented by the characters in the movie.  There were outside pressures that created that division.  And they ultimately want to be back together.  So I think that Tony who has yet to make an appearance so I imagine that he's understanding of it.Now that you're back with a rig and you get to move around, can we see Rhodey suit up again War Machine-style?Cheadle: You might see him suit back up again.  Although that's a bit of a, that's gonna be a thing for him to put that suit back on.  Last time he was in it, it didn't go so well.You talked about along those lines how he's a little ambivalent now about doing it, does getting that something that really affects his mindset going into this?Cheadle: Well, I think it's something that he's fighting to put behind him.  But absolutely, it creeps up.  It there's innuendo.  There's shots taken.  There's things said.  Don't want certain people behind me.  I'm gonna keep a eye on everybody, I wanna keep that jewel in front of me, not behind me.  So yeah, I think he's, like I said, I think he's negotiating this reunion and his rejoining this team.The scene that we saw is that you're going to Wakanda to sort of warn them of the coming threat, Thanos.  So what's War Machine's reaction to all that?  How does he feel about Thanos, this larger than life, all-powerful villain coming for them?Cheadle: Well, I think as always we've seen that Rhodey would prefer to deal with real-world things and that's kind of what he understands.  And when we start leaving the planet and talking about things coming from outer space, he's like, Dude, I don't even know what that, what is that?  I know how to fight guys and in tanks and weapons and that.  I'm don't, that's something that's beyond my pay grade.  But he's been thrown into the deep end, so they all are in a way in this one.  So everybody's gonna have to figure it out on their feet.So it's kind of like when he saw Vision doing all those crazy things in Age of Ultron but times like 10?Cheadle: Yeah.  What?  There's more?  There's more crazy things like you?So we've heard a little bit about the process for this where you don't necessarily have a script, but you're given pages and you have an outline.  Is there anything coming up that you're particularly excited about even if you don't have a script page for it?Cheadle: Well, in the absence of the script, I just write my own lines.  So I just...  I'm in the trailer every day, I'm just pumping it out.  I just...Where's your story credit?Cheadle: Yeah, where is my story credit?  I think that's the real story here, where is my story credit?  No, it's very interesting on set obviously when you don't know the entirety of everything and things are changing real time.  It keeps you on your toes, that's for sure.  But it's ultimately exciting and it's as fun for us sometimes discovering it as it is for the audience.  'Cause we're like oh we didn't, we had no idea how that was gonna turn and the story is really intricate and's a very different I think from what I've seen, what I have read.  It has a little bit of a different feel than the last movies have.  And there's a little more gravitas.  And it kind of has to be that way.  I don't think you can keep doing the same kind of thing in this franchise over and over.  I think you have to try to bring in some more serious elements.  And I think Rhodey being injured was a part of it, kind of starting the "Oh wait, people can really get hurt."  Things can really go south for these characters.So in a sense, what happened in Civil War is foreboding or foreshadowing for potentially the stakes in this?Cheadle: I think the stakes have been raised.  And we understand that we're not invincible and superheroes can go down.How long in your mind has he had the new rig?  And does it limit his mobility or is he completely back to normal?Cheadle: I think there's constant tweaking.  I think it's he's a genius obviously, so he's figured a lot of it out.  It doesn't have a cup holder, which I think was an oversight.  But he's yeah, I think it's getting his ability back.  He's having, he's worked with it.  So I think there's a span of time that he's worked with it.What's Rhodey's relationship like with Tony going into the movie?Cheadle: Like I said, I haven't seen him yet.  And I'm not sure what it is gonna be.  But I think look, they always have the taking the piss out of each other a little bit.  And but I think their relationship has deepened since the last event.  I think Tony feels somewhat responsible and culpable in a way.  But again, he's always had my back in a way.  That only he could really have.Can you talk about the practical leg apparatus you have?  Is this gonna be augmented by CG?  Like how comfortable is it?Cheadle: I'm not sure what the boys and girls are gonna do in visual.  But it's yeah, it's pretty good now.  It works pretty good.  It articulates well.  I can run in it.  I can jump in it.  I can do what I need to do in it.  I don't know how it photographs.  I imagine they sweeten everything, but I think it's pretty good.Some of the other actors told us that the Russos are very open to collaboration from the actors about your characters.  Is there anything about Rhodey that you've been wanting to get in there for this movie?  Or anything about the character you really want to be a part of this story?Cheadle: My note for them always was more.  Why is he not on this page?  I flipped through several pages, I don't see his name.  Let's work on that, guys.  [That's] usually what I tell them.Ruffalo mentioned that you guys didn't have a thing going on in the scene, but on set, you came up with this kind of thing when you were coming out.  Can you talk about that?Cheadle: Which one's Ruffalo again?The green looking guy.Cheadle: Oh that dude.  I only know him as the Hulk.  He's very boring as the other guy.  He almost blends into the wallpaper.  No, Mark and I go way back.  So we have a lot of fun on set.  And we're always, and it's funny 'cause any little satellite group I think and there's probably a bit of a nightmare for the Russos is always trying to come up with some schtick, some bit, something to do.  For me it's fun and it keeps the frame alive.  But for them probably they're like, guys, can you just say the lines that we wrote in the script?  But look, whenever you have all of us back together again and we haven't seen each other for a while, there's feels like there's a period of like kind of giddiness.  Everyone's kind of catching up and we're performing for each other a lot of times.  Trying to crack each other up and be there in those kinds of ways for each other.  So it's always fun coming back.  And yeah, if we're thinking of the same guy who Ruffalo is, yeah, we came up with a little thing to do.