Belfast Telegraph

Don Cheadle got President's approval for filming in Cuba

Don Cheadle went straight to the top when he decided he wanted to shoot House of Lies in Cuba.

Don Cheadle called President Obama's number two when he decided he wanted to film TV show House of Lies in Cuba.

The American actor plays fast-talking management consultant Marty Kaan in the Showtime comedy TV series and thought it would be interesting to shoot one of the episodes of its fifth and final season in Havana, making it the first U.S. scripted series to film in Cuba since the countries’ diplomatic relations were restored last year (15).

Don, 51, explained how show producers faced a lot of red tape and had to follow all appropriate laws and regulations, but he did his part by calling the U.S. president's office for direct input.

"Not to brag but I called Valerie Jarrett, the president's number two. Literally we were in the writer's room on the phone with the state department and the White House," Don said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! "But it got sent through and we were able to pull it off."

Don thinks it may have helped that he played against the American leader in a charity basketball match organised by George Clooney back in 2012, despite Don challenging him fiercely on the court.

"I wished I had been guarding him because the guy who was guarding him, didn't want to play defence against the president. I was like 'You've got a foul this dude! You can't just let him go to the rack!'" he laughed, adding, "The secret service did get a little bit twitchy when they heard me yell that out loud."

However, it's probably for the best that Don didn't share his cunning scheme for watching the Los Angeles Lakers play when he was a youngster with the president.

He told host Jimmy that when he first graduated from college he didn't have a lot of money and lived with a bunch of penniless actors who all happened to be Lakers fans too.

"So when they made the playoffs, we all kinda pulled our money and went to Best Buy and brought a TV and watched the playoffs and then returned the TV after... when you could still do stuff like that," he smiled.

The series finale of House of Lies airs in the U.S. on 12 June (16).

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