Don Cheadle in ‘House of Lies’

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Actor

Don Cheadle would be up for a round of golf with Marty Kaan, the smooth-talking management consultant he plays on Showtime’s “House of Lies.” But becoming close friends? No way.

In the series, Marty leads a team of four consultants more interested in their own bottomline than in that of the client they promise to serve. If you’re going to be friends with Marty, Cheadle says, it would be best to do it “only in certain contexts and only with blinders on to certain things.”

Cheadle says he has never played a character like Marty.

“I think he’s a live wire, unapologetically so, and that’s a fun thing to play,” he says. “In some places, he’s a shark and can handle anything that’s thrown at him. But at home he has no control at all with his son, ex-wife and father.”

Another reason the role appealed to him is that the character was so fully realized by creator and exec producer Matthew Carnahan.

“It was just about going for him, being bold about him,” Cheadle says

At the start of the first season, “House of Lies” mostly focused on Marty and his team as they flattered, cajoled and scared potential clients into using their services. As the season progressed, viewers learned more about Marty’s personal life, including his propensity to sabotage important relationships.

“A lot of what we were doing in the beginning is making sure we established their identity as workers,” Cheadle says. “Then we were able to depart from that and get into not just Marty’s character but Jeanie’s (Kristen Bell) as well. Next year it’s going to expand, hopefully, and we’ll get to know more about Doug (Josh Lawson) and Clyde (Ben Schwartz) and how they intertwine and how this family is going to work and change.”