Don Cheadle Tells a Few Truths About "House of Lies" and "Iron Man 3"

The Golden Globe winner has a big TV success and another superhero blockbuster on the way

By Scott Huver
|  Friday, Jan 25, 2013  |  Updated 11:51 AM PDT
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Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Actor Don Cheadle poses with the award for best performance by an actor in a television series - comedy or musical for "House of Lies" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013.

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From a dweller in a "House of Lies" to a one-man War Machine, Don Cheadle’s onscreen personas sound downright stressful. And he likes it that way.

Audiences will going to have to wait until summer and “Iron Man 3” to see the actor armor up again, but until then he’s willing to offer a smattering of tidbits on the next big Marvel movie – and he’s more than happy to reveal some truths about the new season of “House of Lies,” the Showtime series for which he recently took home a Golden Globe as best actor in a comedy series.

Expectations on “Iron Man 3” are going to be sky high – what are your hopes for it?

I hope that it performs to those levels. We showed 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.

What did you think of the red, white and blue armor?

Oh, I’ll let you react to that when you see it!

How will your character Rhodey shake things up?

I’m not supposed to say that he kills Robert Downey, Jr.’s, character. Is that a spoiler?  That would be a spoiler. [Laughs] 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.

How has it been to juggle your film career with a TV show?

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 because Robert 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.

What’s in store for "House of Lies" this season?

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.

How long will it be before Marty and Jeannie find out exactly what happened between them?

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.

What did you learn in the first season that helped with the second season?

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.

Do you enjoy being hands-on involved in the production of the show?

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.

Has doing the TV show affected your movie career?

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.

What is the legacy you’d like to create with your production company?

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 are others that we’re putting together right now. The mandate is that wow factor.  We want things that make us go “Wow!”

Do your kids like having a superhero dad?

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.

"House of Lies" airs on Showtime on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET

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