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Ben Schwartz has gone from guest starring as the overly cool (and clueless) Jean-Ralphio on NBC’s Parks and Recreation to playing House of Lies’ Clyde Oberholt, a ruthless charmer who would take down his alter-ego’s Entertainment 720 in a heartbeat.
On the Showtime dramedy about management consultants, Schwartz co-stars as Marty’s (Don Cheadle) best friend and member of the Pod that is sent out to help struggling conglomerates handle sticky situations often by creating a master plan that ultimately benefits big business.
While his Parks character may have been equally charming, Schwartz tells The Hollywood Reporter that Clyde would steamroll right over Jean-Ralphio were he brought in to help his now failed Entertainment 720 company with Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari).
“[Clyde] would come in wearing a nice suit, single out Jean-Ralphio — because he’s way more gullible than Tom — and say, ‘I can do this for you, all you need to do is give me X amount of money and I’ll turn your entire business around,” Schwartz laughs. “Jean-Ralphio would get hit by a car [as he did on Parks to get quick cash] and find a way to make money and give it to Clyde.”
“Clyde would f— them over and make them no money and Jean-Ralphio would still think it was the best idea he ever had,” he adds. “Nothing phases Jean-Ralphio, he’s so positive. He could have a sexually transmitted disease and be like, ‘Dude, guess what! I got an STD!’ “
It’s that ruthlessness that Schwartz says defines Clyde — a good guy who will turn on a dime and throw a friend under the bus if it means he can get ahead in his career.
“Clyde looks at Marty and thinks he would do anything to f— over that guy,” he says, noting that while Marty may think the two are tight, such isn’t the case for Clyde. “Watch it slowly in the background and you’ll see the villainy in Clyde come out.”
It’s unclear when — or if — Marty will ever catch on, but Schwartz says the head of the pod has so much going on personally and professionally that he’s oblivious to Clyde’s two-faced nature and his willingness to risk everything to get ahead.
“His endgame is [thinking] ‘I’m going to be where Marty is and I’m going to take him out any way possible,’ ” he says. “If it’s not that, [then it’s] ‘I’m going to get a job somewhere else that has that same thing.’ ”
Check out a clip from Sunday’s episode — and a medley of Jean-Ralphio highlights — below.
House of Lies airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.
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