Ben Schwartz: Sticking it to the one-percent on ‘House of Lies’
Ben Schwartz plays Clyde Oberholt, a slick and ambitious corporate climber on Showtime’s critically acclaimed freshman comedy series “House of Lies,” a raunchy, no-holds-barred satire that hilariously taps into the discontent felt across America towards corporate big business.
Alongside the show’s leading man Don Cheadle and co-stars Kristen Bell and Josh Lawson, the tight knit team of four (called a “pod” on the show) are morally questionable management consultants (i.e. corporate con artists). They are on a daily mission to fill their coffers while screwing over the rich and powerful in boardrooms across America. “It’s the one percent sticking it to the one percent,” said Schwartz with a smile, referencing one of the show’s tag lines.
It is a change of pace from Schwartz’s recurring role as the cocky but inexplicably likeable Jean-Ralphio on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” As the actor explained in a video chat with Gold Derby, Clyde is the more calculating and ambitious of the two, because he “would do anything in [his] power and screw over anybody in the world to get exactly where he is.”
“The most fun for me is when all four of us are doing stuff together,” he added, referencing what has become the highlight of “House of Lies” — the pod sparring together with raunchy rapid-fire dialogue in outrageous situations that are played for as many laughs as possible. Looking back over the show’s first season, his highlights include the second to last episode (“Business”) as well as one from earlier in the season (“Utah”), in which Clyde has a fling with a local Mormon woman, featuring some of the more risqué scenes from the show to date. “It’s always weird when you have a sex scene, or a semi-sex scene, because, you don’t want to be running around naked, and no matter beautiful or amazing the woman is, it’s so awkward, as you’re in your boxers and she’s wearing a tiny little thing to cover herself.”
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Schwartz also reminisced about his surprise Emmy win in 2009 for co-writing Hugh Jackman‘s song and dance opening number from the 81st Annual Academy Awards (along with William Ross, John Kimbrough, Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab), and even walked us through his apartment to reveal where he keeps his treasured Emmy (that would be in a kitchen cabinet).
That year, the Outstanding Music and Lyrics category was included in the live Primetime Emmy Awards telecast, perhaps because producers thought the “Motherlover” song from “Saturday Night Live” (written by nominees Justin Timberlake, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg, Asa Taccone and Drew Campbell) stood a good chance of winning. Upon hearing Jimmy Fallon announce their names, Schwartz recalled how terrified he was standing up on stage, as co-writer (and creator of NBC’s “Community”) Dan Harmon accepted the award. “All you see is me freezing [up there] … and I just smile like an idiot.”