The Showtime comedy series House of Lies follows Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) and his team of management consultants, who know how to play the corporate game better than anyone, by using every dirty trick in the book to woo powerful CEOs and close huge deals. In Season 2, the team will not only be learning to adjust to the new Galweather Stern, after how the company was left at the end of last season, but Marty and his co-worker, Jeannie Van Der Hooven (Kristen Bell), will be trying to figure out exactly what happened during their very drunken night together.
While at the Showtime portion of the TCA Press Tour, show star/executive producer Don Cheadle talked about what’s in store for viewers this season, whether Marty and Jeannie will ever know exactly what happened between them, what he learned from Season 1 that has helped him with Season 2, that he enjoys being so involved with the production, and how he’s found the experience of getting to explore a character over a longer period of time. He also talked about the challenges of juggling a film career with a TV show, what his hopes are for Iron Man 3, the fact that they’ll be doing re-shoots for the film next week in Manhattan Beach, the experience of working with director Shane Black, the surprise success of Flight, the status of the Miles Davis biopic, and what he’s currently working on with his production company. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DON CHEADLE: I guess it’s always a challenge, just from a time standpoint, when you also want to be a dad and be plugged into your family’s life. But, I’ve been very fortunate. It seems to have been working out in a way that allows me to do [everything]. I was working on Iron Man 3 this summer, and we ran into a little bit of a snafu ‘cause Robert [Downey Jr.] got hurt and it pushed production back on House of Lies. We got into a bit of a scheduling thing, but ultimately, we did it and it’s fine. We have a few more weeks and it’s going to be great.
Expectations on Iron Man 3 are going to be sky high. What are your hopes for it?
CHEADLE: I hope that it performs to those levels. We did a little piece of it at Comic-Con and people went crazy. It looked great. The script is good. We’re doing a couple re-shoots next week, but I’m encouraged.
Are you doing the re-shoots here in town?
CHEADLE: Yes, in Manhattan Beach.
CHEADLE: I don’t think it matters to them. They still want me to drive them places and go get food and take them to movies. It doesn’t really matter. They haven’t asked me to fly them there yet.
What was it like working with Shane Black on Iron Man 3?
CHEADLE: It was good. We had a good time. It’s a really good cast. It’s a very interesting script. It was a lot of fun.
What did you think of the red, white and blue armor?
CHEADLE: Oh, I’ll let you react to that when you see it.
How will your character shake things up in Iron Man 3?
CHEADLE: I’m not supposed to say that he kills Robert Downey Jr.’s character. Is that a spoiler? That would be a spoiler. You knew that was coming. You read the comic books. No. I will just say that the buddy relationship that these guys have gets tighter. The third act set piece for the big finale is bigger and badder. It’s just a lot more.
What’s in store for House of Lies this season?
CHEADLE: There’s tons of stuff. We consult a casino owner. That’s takes up a large part of it because he’s a huge client. Bess Armstrong comes in, and she plays the new head of Galweather Stern, since we got rid of Galweather in the last episode. So, it’s just all getting more and more intertwined, especially with my relationship with Kristen Bell’s character. It’s going further and further.
CHEADLE: I don’t know that they’ll ever know. They put away two or three bottles of Tequila. They think they know, at some point, but it’s never confirmed.
Is Kristen Bell’s pregnancy being written into the show?
CHEADLE: I wouldn’t assume anything. Watch the show. You’ll see.
What did you learn in the first season that helped with the second season?
CHEADLE: To stay healthy and stay present. We work 14-hour days and I’m in 98% of the scenes. You really need to strap it on for a marathon. But, it pays dividends on the set because I’m having such a good time. It’s not like I’m pulling a rock over a hill, but it’s a grind. It’s a lot. And if we didn’t have the kind of team that we have, I don’t think it would be possible. You have to get sleep, and only beat your kids in the appointed time, so you don’t get an emotional hangover. No. I have a family, and I have two teenage daughters. It’s a lot to manage. But, their lives are very busy, as well. It worked out in a way that, as they became more busy, this is the busiest I’ve ever been. We really look forward to the times when we’re all off.
CHEADLE: Yeah. I know what’s happening on the ground. I’m seeing all the scripts earlier and seeing all the cuts and every take. I’m doing all of that stuff that the producer’s responsibilities include. But, once we get on the set and we’re living those characters, it’s not me running anything. If anything, I’m trying to push them in front of me and draft them, a lot of times. I think this show can’t exist unless it gets richer and deeper, on all those fronts. I’m always encouraging the writers and [the actors] to give input into who they want to be and how these characters will flesh out, over the years. I hope this is something that lasts a long time. I like my day job.
How have you found the experience of getting the time to grow a character over an ongoing period?
CHEADLE: I thought the experience would be great, given the production behind it and the people behind it and the support we always got from Showtime. It surpassed what I believed it could have been when I started working with the people that are now like a second family to me and that I really have a great time with. I couldn’t have imagined it would be that kind of a situation where it’s so fluid and it’s so fast and we have such a great relationship. If there’s something we want to try, the writers are right there. It doesn’t have to go up the chain, all the way to the head of the network. It’s not that kind of situation. It’s very fluid. There’s a lot of trust amongst us, from the network to us. It’s just been a great opportunity to play a wide-open character, and just a lot of fun.
CHEADLE: It’s not over. My movie career is still thriving. I just had [Flight] come out, and I have probably one of the biggest movies coming out (with Iron Man 3). I’m not done. The great thing about this show is that it’s three months out of the year, and then we’re done. And then, I have nine months to pursue everything else. It’s actually perfect. There’s been no deficit. Nothing has slowed down. It’s also giving my production company a lot of opportunity to develop TV shows and movies. Everything is just chugging on all cylinders, right now. It’s all good.
What was your reaction to the success of Flight?
CHEADLE: It was surprising. It was shocking. When I got my first check from the box office bumps, I was like, “Wow, the movie actually did something!” I don’t think anyone anticipated the kind of performance that it’s had. It’s not the kind of fare that usually does well, in American cinema, as we’ve come to know it. There’s one big dramatic piece, but it happens at the beginning of the movie. It’s really counter-intuitive to the things you see coming out of the studios, as far as it being successful or setting some sort of box office precedent. But, when you have Robert Zemeckis behind the camera and you have Denzel [Washington] anchoring it, and there’s a great cast that fleshed it out, people showed that they were ready to see something a little heavier. So, I’m very surprised.
CHEADLE: I think they’re really healthily embedded in their own lives. What I’m doing is no big deal. It comes up sometimes when we’re all out together, but by now, they know how to manage that. They’re better about it then I am, a lot of times. I took my youngest daughter to take her permit test for her driver’s license and everybody was responding to me. I was like, “This is her moment.” They brought us in the back and, after everyone left, I said, “Does it bum you out that people are fawning over me when it’s really about you today?” And she said, “I’m used to it. No reason to get mad about it.” She’s so philosophical about it. I was getting mad, and she was like, “Don’t get mad. It’s all good.”
Any further development on the Miles Davis biopic?
CHEADLE: I’m going to not say anything for superstitions sake, but yeah. I’ll leave it there.
What are some of the things your production company is pursuing?
CHEADLE: There are a couple of film scripts that we have, that we’re working with. One is with John Sayles, and it’s based on a novel. There are things at different levels that I don’t want to talk about because, until it’s actually something, I don’t want to stir the waters.
What is the legacy you’d like to create with your production company?
CHEADLE: I guess the legacy will be what it is. We are always trying to identify things that are surprising and nuanced and interesting to us, in ways that we haven’t seen before. It’s not always commercial, and often it’s not. Those interesting things are not for the mass-produced audience, usually. But, they’re pieces that inspire us and that are interesting to us. The kinds of things that we go after are all over the map. The mandate really is for something that makes all of us sit back and go, “Oh, okay, I didn’t see that coming.” Crash was one of those projects. The Guard was a small movie that I thought was great, and that we had a great time with. There’s others that we’re putting together right now. The mandate is that wow factor. We want things that make us go, “Wow!”
HOUSE OF LIES returns for Season 2 on Sunday, January 13th