Matthew Carnahan: Having Don Cheadle allows leeway on ‘House of Lies’

Showtime's darkly subversive freshman comedy "House of Lies" stars leading man Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan, a morally questionable alpha-male in the high stakes world of management consulting. Cheadle leads a group of similarly minded cutthroat professionals played by Kristen Bell, Josh Lawson and Ben Schwartz, who lie, cheat and steal their way through corporate boardrooms across America.

Yet, as corrupt and cunning as these characters can be, creator and showrunner Matthew Carnahan believes that having Cheadle as the show's leading man is his "get out of jail free" card because "you can allow this character to be even more depraved and morally bankrupt than even as I wrote him, and the Don Cheadle factor really helps to carry" the show. "People just like him; you just want him to win."

Because the show airs on premium cable, Carnahan and his team of writers have plenty of freedom to push the boundaries of what you can show on TV as they scathingly satirize the dark side of corporate America, but they still delve deeper into the back stories of these characters to show some heart among the frequent nudity and profanity.

Chatting with Gold Derby about the show's first season, Carnahan says that Cheadle brought a degree of gravitas and prestige to the project from the moment he signed on. "First of all he is one of my favorite actors and a real hero of mine."

Showing a particular soft spot for actor Donis Leonard Jr., who plays Marty's son Roscoe, Carnahan says he doesn't fit the usual gender archetypes of what boys coming of age are expected to be like. "I really like Roscoe and I really adore Donis Leonard Jr., who plays him. We got lucky."

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UPLOADED May 18, 2012 9:14 am