Don Cheadle on starring in a Super Bowl commercial, cancel culture: ‘You're playing around on the third rail’

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EXCLUSIVE: Don Cheadle is game for nearly anything — especially when it comes to the Super Bowl.

The actor teamed up with his lookalike brother Colin on a Super Bowl LV commercial. The ad, released Wednesday, is for Michelob ULTRA Organic Seltzer and will air during the NFL championship Sunday between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. 

The star, 56, spoke to Fox News about starring in a 2021 Super Bowl commercial, his series “Black Monday,” as well as getting political on social media.

Fox News: You’re no stranger to Super Bowl commercials. What’s it like starring in one for 2021?
Don Cheadle: It’s the Super Bowl that my team happens to be in and they’re going to win it. Down with the Chiefs. And the super icing on the cake is that my brother is in this commercial with me. And that was something that I never thought was going to happen.

[I remember] my wife pulled up a picture of us standing next to each other and going, “They need somebody that looks like you. How about this dude?” I was like, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense.” And thankfully, the brand was on board. Now I get to be in a Super Bowl commercial with my brother, which is amazing.

Fox News: And what was it like working with your brother?
Cheadle: It was great. What’s great is that we get to do what we do all the time anyway, which is have fun and take shots at each other in ways that brothers only get to do, with all the love in the world. It was a cool experience and we’re continuing it today.

Fox News: How important is it to have an event like the Super Bowl to help uplift spirits in America, especially after such a difficult year?
Cheadle: Well, I think it’s a great distraction. Right? People have always been into this particular game, and it’s always held a special place for everybody who watches sports. I think it’s one of the most-watched events in the world. Always. Every year. And this particular one is going to be amazing.

Don Cheadle is starring in a new commercial alongside his lookalike brother Colin for Michelob ULTRA Organic Seltzer.
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

… It’s just a great time, and it’s a nice way to have three hours away from everything else. And then you can drop back and remember about COVID again and everything else that we’re dealing with. So it’s a good distraction.

Fox News: Is there anything you hope people can take away from this experience of wanting a distraction, but also knowing they can’t be with their loved ones?
Cheadle: This is the world now. This is where we are. And I think we have to be able to be uncomfortable for a while so that we can be comfortable later. People, unfortunately, from all stripes, are impatient and we are not very good at delaying gratification. Especially in this country, we want what we want and we want it instantaneously, but it doesn’t work that way. 

And I think we’re seeing the limitations of that, for sure right now. You can want to have something immediately and have some quick demonstrable results and become very sick and infect other people and even perish as a result of it. This disease is running it right now. As much as we want to be in charge, we’re not.

Betty White (as Rose Nylund), Don Cheadle (as Roland Wilson) in the CBS sitcom ‘The Golden Palace,’ circa 1992.
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

… We have to be humble. We have to be patient. We have to be observant, and we have to be safe and protect each other. This isn’t just about, “Am I going to get sick?” It’s like you don’t want to get your family and friends sick. You don’t want to get strangers sick, people you don’t know. So you have to really be 100 about how you take care of yourself today. And it’s just going to be like that for a while. We’re going to have to learn how to be patient because the alternative is maybe not being here.

Fox News: Betty White turned 99 on Jan. 17. And the both of you starred in “The Golden Palace.” What’s your favorite memory from your time filming that series?
Cheadle: Oh, just so many. All of the ladies on that show were great. Her, Estelle [Getty] and Rue [McClanahan]. And got to work with Cheech Marin, one of my boys. So we had a great time. Just every moment with Betty was fun and she’s just really game for anything. And you couldn’t meet anybody sweeter. She is as sweet as advertised. I wouldn’t trade any of my time on that show. We had a great time.

Fox News: Your series “Black Monday” is currently streaming on Showtime. Given the show’s theme of Wall Street, do the events surrounding Robinhood and the GameStop saga surprise you?
Cheadle: I think they are very surprising. I think that nobody saw this coming. I don’t think anyone knew that it was possible or that it would be done in this particular way, that people could go against the sharks and the short sellers and go against these huge hedge funds that seem to have all the power in the world. But with the collection of enough people who, on their own, have little power, but together, collectively, have a lot of it, we’re able to manipulate the market in this way.

(L-R) Don Cheadle, Paul Scheer, Regina Hall, and Andrew Rannells of Showtime’s ‘Black Monday’ pose for a portrait during the 2019 Winter TCA at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 31, 2019, in Pasadena, California.
(Photo by Robby Klein/Getty Images)

And it’s telling what the reaction has been. What’s the ethical stance that the market takes on that? We haven’t seen the end of it, obviously. And it’s a story that’s unfolding as we speak. So we’re keeping our eye on it, not cynically, just to take advantage of it so we can use it as a storyline on our show, but it’s very interesting. I think we’re seeing so many things happening that no one imagined was possible.

Fox News: When it comes to politics, you’ve been very outspoken on social media. Are you hopeful for the future now that Biden is president?
Cheadle: I’m definitely more hopeful for the future. But I do think that hope without action is fruitless. And we have to, for all of our leaders, continue to be vocal and continue to be constituents that speak up and show up. If there is no political cost often for these candidates and for people who get into office and become our representatives, they don’t feel any pressure to do anything. 

So it’s always a balance of who’s got the big chair and who are the people behind them, and then who are us out here as citizens and how are we behaving? And what are the things that we are forcing our leaders to do? And how are we doing that? Because if that’s not the entire mix, then things don’t get done because bureaucracy is much more powerful. Inertia is one of the strongest forces on the planet. And it’s much easier not to do anything than to do something. So hope is great, but action is better.

Actor Don Cheadle participates in the Global Climate Strike demonstration in Los Angeles, California on September 20, 2019. People around the world took part in protests against climate change and global warming ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.
(Photo by Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Fox News: What are your thoughts on cancel culture? Certainly, there are other entertainers who may be afraid of voicing certain opinions or ideas out of fear that their careers will be destroyed.
Cheadle:  I guess it’s real to the degree that you listen to that noise. I don’t know that people are purely canceled because … I don’t know that there are any pure irredeemable situations unless it’s been deemed, not that you have said something off, but that you are that way and that there is stuff in your past that is consistent with that thing that you said, that one-off thing that looked like a one-off moment.

I think if you live by the sword, you die by the sword… I think that cancel culture, a lot of that is just a fabrication. It’s not really real. I don’t think a lot of people who are crying about being canceled are really “canceled.” I think they just don’t enjoy the spot that they had before. And they’ve gotten flack and blowback. Now they want to talk about it in terms of something that is untoward or unfair.

To have some belief that there was going to be fairness in social media, to begin with, is a bit of a fallacy. You’re playing around on the third rail and things can turn on you fast. We’ve all had versions of that happen, I think, especially when you’re on Twitter and it’s just moment to moment. It’s easy to step into some stuff. But yeah, I think that’s the risk you take. Right? If you want to poke your head up and be a loud voice, then you take the risk of the culture looking at you and going, “Yeah, I don’t want to listen to you. Next.” That’s what it is. Don’t play.

Don Cheadle testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee on February 5, 2007, in Washington, DC. The subcommittee’s inaugural hearing was titled ‘Genocide and the Rule of Law.’
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fox News: What’s inspiring you today?
Cheadle: A lot. I think that the reaction that we’ve seen around the world, the actions that we’ve seen people taking against hardliners, the fact that people are realizing that they do matter, the turnout for the vote this year, the election. People understand that they do have the ability to make changes in their lives and be effective. I think that’s really important that people who were heretofore disaffected are now interested and engaged. 

I think that all matters and we have critical issues that are in front of us. And if we don’t have that kind of attention, and if we don’t move together in those ways and organize and be a community, and people who want to be a part of the solution, we’re going to slide back hard and fast. So I’m glad that people are awake and aware and are activated. And I hope that continues.

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