Don Cheadle on How His ‘Black Monday’ Character Mo Compares to ‘House of Lies’ Marty

Black Monday
Miller Mobley/Showtime
'Black Monday' renewed for Season 2 at Showtime

Showtime’s new black comedy, Black Monday, imagines the financial hijinks that could have led to the still-unexplained worst single-day stock market crash in Wall Street history on Monday, October 19, 1987.

On the high-energy Los Angeles set, Don Cheadle — who plays splashy stockbroker and trading-firm boss Maurice “Mo” Monroe — is doing a celebratory scene from Mo’s office.

“We need to focus on the important things, like how to keep champagne spray out of our brand-new tuxes,” Cheadle says before popping a bottle. Mo is living the high life (he owns a stretch Lamborghini and a robot butler) along with partner and crush Dawn (Regina Hall) and wunderkind trader Blair (Andrew Rannells), but he wants more and creates a scheme to get it.

“Mo thinks he’s a lot smarter than he is,” Cheadle says. “He is playing chess, but with a couple of checker pieces and three marbles.” The actor also played a moneyman on House of Lies, consultant Marty Kaan. “Marty took calculated risks,” he explains. “Mo is all in.”

Producers re-created the bravado of the time by building lavish sets and bringing in lots of “cocaine” (powdered B12 vitamins or cornstarch). A mishap with the drug occurs in the premiere, changing everyone’s fate. Hey, it was the ’80s.

Black Monday, Series Premiere, Sunday, January 20, 10/9c, Showtime