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Actor Don Cheadle realizes he’s best known for dramatic roles in such films as Crash, Hotel Rwanda and Traffic. But he finds it odd that so many viewers aren’t expecting to see him flex his comedic muscles from him in his new series House of Lies.

“I do it all the time around my friends,” he tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. “It’s not a new side of me to me.”

The Oscar-nominated actor will show many new sides of himself in the new Showtime comedy, which premiered Sunday at 10pm.

In the series, which he also executive-produces, Cheadle plays Marty Kaan, a ruthless, manipulative, selfish management consultant whose team travels around the world analyzing companies and helping them close big business deals. Marty’s one of the best in the country. The only one better? Marty’s crazy ex-wife Monica (Dawn Olivieri), who is also the mother of the couple’s gender boundaries-pushing son who’d rather audition for the role of Sandy than Danny in Grease.

“When you see a project that goes as far as this goes and is as bold and dangerous and funny as this is with this company that we were able to assemble — it was just a no-brainer,” Cheadle says of his decision to pursue the project.

Levity may be nothing new for Cheadle, but creator Matthew Carnahan says the actor’s largely dramatic background was one of the reasons he got the part. “Don Cheadle is right for the role on so many levels,” Carnahan says. “He’s hysterically funny and his comedy is not tired because we don’t think of him that way. So it’s really a fresh thing to see him in a comedy.”

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