Over the last thirty years, Don Cheadle has portrayed dynamic roles in television in film. His first major role was in the spin-off of The Golden Girls entitled The Golden Palace. After Golden Palace, he jumped to Picket Fences. His two years on Picket Fences and his critically acclaimed performance in Devil in a Blue Dress put him on the path to becoming a household name. Don Cheadle has since starred in many different roles, but Mo Monroe in Black Monday is one of the most iconic.
In the first part of Season 2 of Black Monday, Mo has given up the rat race; he has joined a band, drinks milkshakes, and lives a chill life in Miami. Will that last? The answer is obviously, no, that is just not who Mo is. He is drawn to the excitement of Wall Street and the game. Cheadle’s performance in this show this season stands out because of the depth and nuance he brings to Mo. Mo is truly, to borrow an overused phrase, an onion and he has layers. You can tell Cheadle has a ball playing this character, and it shows in his fantastic performance.
When people talk about major Hollywood stars who have made their mark in television and film, Don Cheadle is at the top of the list. Cheadle is incredibly funny, and gives the performance everything you want to see from a television series.
Awards Daily TV: A lot of people either forgot about or do not talk enough about this economic crash. What research did you do to formulate Mo?
Don Cheadle: I grew up during this period of time, and I graduated during this time. I was just starting my career as an actor at this time, even though I would not call myself an actor then, I was just trying to find work in the area I loved.. Everyone was aware of this shock to the systems. A lot of the stuff was nostalgia for me, I remember the struggle.
I also did research on this type of person. There were not a lot of black men who were stock brokers at this time, and there were no black men who owned their own company that operated in this world, so we had to study these men. We were borrowing from the model of who these guys were, their psychological makeup. and modus operandi of winning without fear of loss.
ADTV: I love the way race interplays for many of the characters, especially since this is set in the ‘80s. How did this resonate with you?
DC: I think one of the things that we always say to each other is that this show is a hypothetical in a lot of ways. The due north or theme of the show. This show often shows how far we have and have not come. This show not only explores race but also sexual orientation, class in ways that are incredibly interesting. The team at the show have taken themes from today and have shown them during this time period. We can take the perspective of now, the advances that have and have not been made. Is there a way to have this conversation in this show.
ADTV: I think one of my favorite things in the show was in Season 2 when people kept coming up to Dawn at the country club and saying they love her.
DC: Yeah that was hilarious and I even jokingly will tell Regina I can’t believe Showtime let you do Black Monday and Watchmen at the same time that is amazing.
ADTV: The show also leans heavily into pop culture farce. Were there any fun moments you enjoyed getting to play?
DC: I have fun every day on that show. It’s always something that’s interesting that we did not anticipate. David and Jordan are bananas, they are so fun. There essentially was a rule that if you are that insane you get to ride the roller coaster, and join in on this show. We have such a diverse writers room that comedy comes into play in so many ways. They are also so into us going off the cuff, and vamping. You also have this incredibly funny cast like Yassir, Casey, Horatio, Regina and Paul who are all so good at rolling with things and improv.
ADTV: Mo operates as a lone wolf in many instances. What do you think are his end goals?
DC: I do not think he knows. I think he wants to have the juice of being involved as much as possible. Mo started season two with having a little respite and playing in a band, and drinking a lot of milkshakes. He thought this is what he wanted. Maybe I will just relax, and give up the thrill ride, once the opportunity comes to get back in the game he realizes there is just just no excitement in giving up that life. He always wants to be chasing the thrill
ADTV: The standalone episode “Idiot Inside” was a bit different for the show. We got to focus mainly on you in an interesting and precarious situation. What was that like?
DC: That was the first show back we filmed. It was bananas, very different from the rest of the shows. A homage to Miami Vice, mixing genres was incredible fun. All the heavy lifting was done by the writers and the director. We shoot five days per episode. It lends itself to the frenetic nature of the show. If you are doing coke it makes you feel you are
ADTV: I love the relationship he had with Blair in Season 1, and then they finally connect in season two. How do you think Mo views this relationship?
DC: I think it shifts. At the beginning it was pure plot, I am going to work this dude. I am going to work this dude and take his fiance’s company, then things begin to shift. As the season goes on he takes him on as a mentor. And the show takes them to a different place where there is a stronger connection
You see this toward the end of season two where Mo and Blair run into each other, and Mo helps Blair. At this point he feels more like a father or protector to him. There is that line where Mo says “I am just feeling like a father to you.” and Blair responds “You mean like the father who beat you.” It’s very mixed for Mo, and Blair, and the way they interact, same with Dawn.
ADTV: Tell me about that relationship Mo has developed with Dawn. It has elements of Sam and Diane from Cheers and elements of Moonlighting, too.
DC: It’s all of that, everything you said. When you have a straight man and woman on the show there is always this question when they had a past or romantic chemistry. We are always asking what is the right time? Are they going to be there together? That always tends to be the theme. If you do it too soon do you ruin that. I do not think they have evolved enough to put their own desires aside to be together. I would not want to see desires. If they do get together
I am not sure they should get together. The characters can’t can’t change, they can’t flip because that may change the dynamic of the attraction. Sometimes it’s fun to see them try to change for the other person. Then once one person does change the other person loses interest and says something like “I actually do not like you changed. I like you as the person who would fight with me all the time.” With Mo and Dawn I still do not think they know themselves yet so getting together would not make sense.
ADTV: I know a lot of folks are eager to finish the back half of Season 2. Do you know when that will air, any hints on what we can expect?
DC: They were in the middle of post for the remainder of the shows, so everything shut down. There is still stuff that needs to be fixed from ADR, music, and other things. There are folks sheltering in place and we are working on figuring out how to get those things done in this situation.
ADTV: What crazy things do you hope to see Mo get into?
DC: There is so much, if people are with us, we can go a lot of different places. I like that this season we have expanded into banking, politics, and all of the different moves these guys are making. We are getting into our moves as to how far this show goes. There is no dearth to how much calamity these folks get into with Wall Street especially with everything going on today. We have talked about time jumps. There is no end to the material especially with all the world build we have done.
Black Monday is now available on Showtime.