Don’s all ears
The House of Lies star would rather listen and learn than steal scenes, writes Darren Devlyn
F he were any more laidback, Don Cheadle would be comatose. His major Hollywood star vehicle, Hotel Rwanda, is ranked in the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time and earned him an Oscar nomination for his riveting portrayal of Schindlerlike figure of hope Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who saved more than 1200 locals who would otherwise have died in the civil war.
The Oscar nomination for Hotel Rwanda was Cheadle’s first, but he never placed too much stock in it.
‘‘ It is not really a contest that makes a lot of sense, in my opinion,’’ he says.
‘‘ It is not like we’re playing basketball and whoever makes the most free throws wins.’’
His approach to filmmaking, and stature among his peers, was enhanced further when he said: ‘‘ I don’t think it helps to be thought of as a scene-stealer. That’s not comforting for other actors. They think, ‘ Well, I don’t want to work with him. Go steal from someone else.’ So I’m never going into a movie thinking that I want to grab the attention. I’m wanting to make the best whole piece. I want to look back at my resume and think: ‘ That was a great movie’, not, ‘ Oh, those movies were s..., but I was good in them’.’’
Cheadle, 47, has carved a reputation for his ability to take your emotions on a ride. He’s made more than 30 films, including Ocean’s Eleven, its sequel Ocean’s Twelve, and was outstanding in his portrayal of a porn star/stereo salesman in Boogie Nights.
He may not be the kind of actor who revels in making himself the centre of attention on a film set, but his talents were destined to ensure he moved from the shadows of second-banana roles to leading-man status.
Asked what made him want to headline the TV show House of Lies, he says: ‘‘ I wasn’t thinking about headlining a show necessarily, as a goal in my career. I read a script I really dug about a business we know little about.
‘‘ It was also an opportunity to be at home with my family, and when all the math was done on the reasons to do a show, starting obviously with the material itself, everything lined up and equalled a yes.’’
The series is based on the tell-all book, House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch And Then Tell You The Time.
Cheadle plays Marty Kaan, head honcho at management consulting firm Galweather & Stearn. He leads a hot, ambitious team of sharks including Jeannie (Kristen Bell), Clyde (Ben Schwartz) and Doug (Australia’s Josh Lawson) — all faithful to the motto: ‘‘ screw or be screwed’’.
Wild nights on the town servicing clients are simply part of the job. Caviar, white truffles, Grey Goose and Dom, and the special attention of sexy local tour guides (really off-duty strippers) all end up on the client’s bill as ‘‘ entertainment expenses’’.
Away from work, Cheadle has a reputation as a devoted family man with a strong social conscience.
After Hotel Rwanda, he became an activist to raise awareness of the mid-2000s genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. In January 2005, he travelled to Sudan with five members of US Congress to see refugee camps and to meet survivors of the genocide.
Cheadle and George Clooney were honoured for their work at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Rock the Vote! Or if you’re middle-aged with a sentimental side, Easy Listen the Vote! @StephenAtHome aka Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, encourages voters in the US election.
IHouse of Lies, One, Monday, 9.30pm
NO JOSHING AROUND
star Don Cheadle. storylines that we follow but we’re also allowed to stretch out and a lot of time that’s where we find the best stuff. ‘‘It’s fun to have that latitude as well as the comfort that you’re in good hands when you’re playing with these guys. ‘‘And Kristen (Bell) is a professional. She’s already been a lead on a series, so she understands the level of commitment and how to keep hold of a character and follow them through a series and be mindful of the story she’s responsible for telling. It’s a good mix.’’
Quality quest: Hotel