Don’s all ears

The House of Lies star would rather lis­ten and learn than steal scenes, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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

Rwanda

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