By Mike Bruno
Updated October 22, 2008 at 09:18 PM EDT

In a new NPR radio interview, Terrence Howard for the first time publicly addresses last week’s news that Don Cheadle will be replacing him as Jim Rhodes in Iron Man 2. The actor, who spent much of the candid interview discussing his personal life and his first album, Shine Through It, indicated that he learned about the Iron Man move by reading it in the trades and called it “the surprise of a lifetime.”

Though last week’s reports hint that Howard was dumped because he wanted too much money for the sequel, in the NPR interview the actor-singer gives the impression that he and Marvel had already come to an agreement on salary and that the producers reneged on the deal. “I read something in the trades that implicated it was about money or something, but apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on sometimes,” he told host Scott Simon.

Given that the public is already up-in-arms over the prospect of seeing Rhodey played by a different actor in Iron Man 2, the fact that the Oscar-nominated Howard went on the radio, basically called Marvel a bunch of liars, and then, with an overwhelming sense of “peacefulness,” as he puts it, simply chalked the whole thing up to, “Like a lot of Americans, I lost my 401(k), basically,” it’s probably time for Marvel to explain themselves before they do any more damage to the pre-release buzz for their 2010 tentpole. Hard to imagine the sequel does anything other than gangbusters when it does open, but whatever they can do to take the sting out of the fact that there won’t actually be a “next time” for Howard as Rhodey would be a smart move.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Did Howard get screwed, or is this simply the way business is done in Hollywood (or both)? Anyone hear a decent explanation of exactly why they made the switch? Anyone psyched to see Cheadle fill Howard’s shoes?

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