'Black Monday:' Don Cheedle Headlines A Super Cast In New Wall Street Comedy
SHOWTIME, Sun., Jan. 20, 10:00 PM
By Jeff Pfeiffer
Although Showtime’s new series Black Monday (premiering Sunday) deals with a devastating economic event — it opens on the titular Oct. 19, 1987, the date of the biggest Wall Street crash in history — the series draws wild comedy from the crash as viewers watch a fictionalized accounting of how a group of outsiders caused it.
Producing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who also co-direct the pilot episode) bring a hilariously manic, 1980s-style sex-drugs-and-rock-’n’-roll comedic energy to the series. That energy mirrors the intense, often coke-inspired bravado of its main character — Don Cheadle’s Maurice Monroe.
Cheadle enthusiastically inhabits Maurice, who promises to “put the ‘brother’ in ‘Lehman Brothers’”as he works to crash the old boys club of Wall Street with other outsiders (Cheadle is matched in his energy by an outstanding cast including Andrew Rannells and Regina Hall). Here we talk with Cheadle.
Are Maurice and the other characters in Black Monday based on real people, or are they satiric constructs of Wall Street archetypes?
Don Cheadle: The latter. It would be nearly impossible to find this particular makeup of people in one house. ... At that time, in that environment — hell, even now — a black man at the head of a trading house with a black woman as his right hand is pretty unheard of. But it affords the opportunity to talk about all that stuff in the context of the show. But mostly, we’re hoping people laugh. It’s a comedy, after all.
Your previous Showtime series also satirized a certain industry. Do you see any similarities or differences between Maurice Monroe and your House of Lies role as Marty Kaan?
The biggest difference for me is that Maurice isn’t a world-beater. No matter what Marty faced, I think the prevailing thinking was that he was always as smart, if not smarter, than everybody in the room, and that given any crack, he could exploit it. Maurice more lives on his cunning and insane gambles. He’s not a thoughtful plotter as much as a dude who’s gotten lucky so far and would rather push his chips in the middle on a hope to get a winning hand rather than be a lock going in. It can’t last.
You were just a few years starting into your acting career on Oct. 19, 1987. Do you recall the events of Black Monday?
I had just moved to L.A. and started trying to make it in the business. That hustle was allconsuming. Although the economy everywhere was affected, my brown-rice-and-broccoli diet didn’t really take a discernible hit, and finding work didn’t get appreciably harder. It was kind of a blip for me.
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