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Don Cheadle explains why he’s not so into the Oscars

Don Cheadle was nominated for a best actor Oscar in 2005 for “Hotel Rwanda,” but he’s not really keen on hanging out at the Academy Awards.

“You won’t ever see me at the Oscars unless I’m presenting or I’m nominated,” Cheadle told CNN in a recent interview. “And as soon as they don’t say my name, the game is how fast can you get out of there.”

It’s not about winning or losing for him, Cheadle said, he just doesn’t like how award ceremonies put creative work in a subjective competition.

“Just conceptually, the Oscars being a contest between artists… these are things that you really can’t compare,” Cheadle explained “How do you compare ‘Barbie’ to ‘Oppenheimer?’ They’re not even in the same world.”

“That’s not really why we do it or why we’ve gotten into this,” he said.

Adrien Brody and then Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Frank Pierson announcing the best actor winner at the Academy Awards in 2005. Jamie Foxx won for his performance in "Ray." - Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Adrien Brody and then Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Frank Pierson announcing the best actor winner at the Academy Awards in 2005. Jamie Foxx won for his performance in "Ray." - Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The publicity work for awards after being nominated is a whole other job, Cheadle said.

“The campaign surrounding it is like, oh my God you get nominated and you’re like, that’s cool. And they’re like, okay, now you have to show up here and here and here and do this and that. You’re like, oh, wait a minute,” he said laughing.

Cheadle added that even attending award shows as an audience member includes some stress.

“For me personally, it’s hard because when you’re at the Oscars, you are the show,” he said “If you’re in the audience, those cameras are on. You never know when you’re in the show. Like, how can you talk s**t?”

He does appreciate when his friends win, but “ultimately we understand what this is.”

“This is about business and you can’t really compare artists in this way,” he said.

Cheadle spoke with CNN from the set of “Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist,” a limited series that will tell the story of an armed robbery that took place on the night of Muhammad Ali’s fight in Atlanta in 1970. He plays Detective JD Hudson, described as “one of Atlanta’s first Black detectives assigned to Ali’s security detail and the robbery.”

The Peacock show, set to debut next year, will also star Taraji P. Henson, Samuel L. Jackson, Terrence Howard, Kevin Hart and Dexter Darden.

“It’s been great to get back in the flow with Sam and Taraji and Terrance and Kevin. Kevin and I have been trying to figure out something to do together for a minute,” Cheadle said. “It’s a very interesting story based on real life events. It’s been a lot of fun.”

In between production, Cheadle also managed to film a sleek new commercial for PopCorners, joining fellow “Oceans” franchise castmates George Clooney and Brad Pitt to have starred in ad campaigns.

“Well, they backed the truck up,” Cheadle joked about his decision to do the spot, though said he actually enjoys the snack.

“It’s a great alternative to fried snacks,” he said.

The commercial is set in a speakeasy, filled with partygoers and a band.

“It was just fun working with the creative team and collaborating on the concept,” Cheadle said. “That is really the bar for these kinds of things.”

A good rule of thumb for a lot of life, he added.

“If you’re going to be like, why did I do that, then that’s not fun,” he said.

Healthy snacks are fun. Award shows, not so much. Noted, Don.

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