Cheadle and Bell build a 'House of Lies' for Showtime
Down a metal staircase is a lounge near the main bar, with Persian carpets and exposed brick walls, cluttered with more soft furniture upon which one is led to wonder what has happened after dark where the crew of
Created by Matthew Carnahan and premiering Sunday, Jan. 8, the half-hour show is based on Martin Kihn's book "House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time."
In this particular episode, the quest to please a client, played by guest star
With the addition of a long-haired, shirtless male dancer, things also get intermittently weird between team members Clyde Oberholt (Ben Schwartz) and Doug Guggenheim (Josh Lawson).
"They're not great," says Bell of her dancing skills afterward (with high-heeled shoes off as soon as filming is done). "They're all right. Listen, comparatively, to the four men I'm dancing with, I'm Baryshnikov on that dance floor."
Seated in an ornate, high-backed chair off the dance floor, Cheadle describes his character as "complicated and dark and messed up, in a good way. He's dealt with some tragedy when he was young, at a pretty significant time in his development, when these things tend to happen to people, and it changes the heart of who you're going to be.
"And if you don't get back to it and really ever deal with it, you're on that path forever. Marty, as we will see in the series, is not really dealing with what's happening to him."
As to how Marty wound up in consulting, Cheadle says, "I think it's as much that he ran toward this as he ran away from something else and just figured out that, fortunately or unfortunately, he had skills in this area. The things that saved him, in a way, are ultimately things that are his undoing in other situations.
"He has a certain fearlessness and a recklessness, a real sort of Machiavellian delight in manipulating situations."
Curled in a large red chair at the top of the stairs, Bell reveals that Jeannie an Ivy League grad with a sketchy past is no less interesting than her boss.
"She is quite mysterious," she says, "and that is the reputation that she would like to have. Jeannie doesn't want you to know too much about her. She's extremely compartmentalized one part of her life does not relate to the other.
"She's not diseased. She is choosing when to pick up her integrity and when to put it down. She may have come from a meager background, but she is a go-getter. No mistake, she wants your job, no matter what the job is.
"She's almost hungrier than Marty is, in a few different ways, although she keeps that hidden. As much as she gets along with him, she's still ready to pounce when another position opens up for her to move up.
"She has very high hopes for herself. She simply said, 'I'm going to succeed,' and she made it happen no matter what the cost."
"Marty loves her," says Cheadle, "wants to see her do well, sees her as a mentee, a person that he's grooming. But it's a real tough love. It's a 'Great Santini' kind of thing."
Bell concurs that it's not a simple relationship.
"It's caught in the middle of so many things," she explains. "There's sexual tension sometimes. There is the tension of the hierarchy, that he's her boss. There are aspects of the father/daughter in it. There are shades of enemies and shades of best friendship."
In the meantime, not all the characters' fancy footwork takes place on the dance floor.
"They're making it up as they go along," Cheadle says. "They need you to let them know what you need to hear. There's a plan, but the plan is as malleable as your needs or wants. They can throw the entire plan out in a second and come up with something else."