Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan in House of Lies. / Courtesy of SHOWTIME
Known for roles in movie franchises — Iron Man 2 and 3 and Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve — and quieter Oscar-noticed films such as Hotel Rwanda and Crash, Don Cheadle, 48, now stars in his own TV series. House of Lies returns Sunday at 10 ET/PT on Showtime.
You play a liar. In real life, are you a good liar? I’m a terrible liar. ... I want the straight skinny all the time. So I try to give it.
You usually travel for work. How’s life on a TV set? It’s nice to be at home and sleep in my own bed at night. I’m 20 minutes away from the studio [in Los Angeles] ... It’s a consistency I cherish.
Does your family like it when you’re home? It depends upon the day. I have two teenagers, so you know ...
Is parenting teenagers more difficult than when they were younger? The bigger challenge is that they are rapidly approaching the age, next year my daughter [Ayana, 18] is going to be going to college and a couple years behind her, her sister [Imani, 16]. It’s more that you’re on the launch pad to trying to make sure that they can do what they need to do once they’re out of there.
What’s the most important thing you want to teach your teens? That their life is in their hands. ... I try to make sure my daughters are cognizant about the choices they make and what the potential upside or downside could be to those choices.
You and Bridgid Coulter have been together 20 years. What’s the secret? Not moving apart. It’s funny: I asked my mom one time why she and my dad were still together. She said, ‘Because we both didn’t want to be divorced at the same time.’ It’s timing sometimes.
Do you watch any TV as a family? We love to watch Modern Family together.
Are you a big reader? I took about 40 flights this summer flying back and forth [filming Iron Man 3] and I was reading a lot of books on the plane: Alexander Mackendrick’s book on directing [On Film-making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director]; Imagine [Jonah Lehrer]. I was very disappointed when he came out and said half of the facts in it weren’t real, that whole thing was disappointing. On the plane is where I get in my reading.
Speaking of Iron Man 3, how is it? We never know until it comes out and everybody has their chance to touch it and push and pull on it. I feel like it has an opportunity.
If you could have a superhero power, which would you want? I do have one but I can’t really share it.
Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year? No, I almost never make them. What’s the point? You’re going to do what you’re going to do and hopefully it will be the right thing.
The Super Bowl is soon; do you root for a team? The [Denver] Broncos just kill me. I’m a Kansas City Chiefs fan [he was born there], which is even more painful than the Broncos.
You played a number of instruments growing up. Do you still? I’ve been mostly playing trumpet. I’m not good.
You hope to make a Miles Davis movie? That’s why I’m playing the trumpet. [Financing] is the eternal struggle. ... I think we’ve just potentially found an irrational investor.
Any other parts or projects you’d like to be part of or make happen? I really want to be some part — produce, write, direct, be in — of a modern horror story. Not horror like slasher/gore, [but something] really scary because I haven’t been scared in a movie in a long time. Paranormal Activity isn’t what I’m talking about. Something that’s really Exorcist scary. I want to do a Kung Fu movie too, a fighting movie. There’s a lot of martial arts movies that I like but I love what Kung Fu Hustle did for both the genre and the lure of it all.
Do you have a favorite movie? I’m kind of all over the map. I’d be hard pressed to come up with one. I think Catch-22 is pretty good although that’s a very sort of arcane reference; Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, Sounder.
Was there one movie that you saw that made you want to be an actor? No, it’s probably more about being a latch-key kid and watching a bunch of bad TV.
Is there a secret to the career longevity you’ve had? If there is I don’t know what it is. It helps to be lucky.