Smooth Operator

Article excerpt

Byline: Allison Samuels

Don Cheadle Is Switching To Comedy--And Sticking It To Big Business.

Lewd, crude, and prone to releasing hilarious tirades? Meet Don Cheadle 2.0. Unplugged and practically unrecognizable in the new Showtime comedy House of Lies, he plays Marty Kaan, a fast-talking management consultant who will do and say just about anything to make his corporate clients happy.

The role buries the image of Cheadle as "the Darfur guy," a label pegged to him after the haunting 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. He admits the movie opened doors--but not the ones you'd think.

"Hotel Rwanda changed my world, not so much industry-wise but from the standpoint of meeting people who helped me become a bigger part of changing the world we live in," says Cheadle, 47, who also co-wrote the book Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond with John Prendergast.

All those extracurriculars aside, "I didn't actually feel like I had a career until about two years ago ... Up until then I worked on a movie and it would end, and then I was looking for anoth-er job." Nothing says steady like a regular TV gig, and Cheadle is debut-ing on Showtime as the network rides a high swelled by the terrorism-laced hit Homeland. …