Bryan Greenberg and Lake Bell

Viewers may recognize him from more lighthearted fare like One Tree Hill and October Road, but these days Bryan Greenberg is hustling as a fashion-school dropout on HBO's new series How to Make it in America (Sun, 10/9c). Greenberg, who calls the series "very timely with the economy," talked to TVGuide.com about why he responded to the project and how his musical background affects his roles.

TVGuide.com: How did you get involved in the show?
Bryan Greenberg: I actually knew Ian Edelman, the creator of the show, through basketball and a mutual friend, but I had no idea he was a writer. I was reading in the trades that he had this script and I read it, I responded to it. I met with him, Julian Farino and Rob Weiss, I did a chemistry read with Victor Rasuk, and it all came together.

TVGuide.com: Do you think HTMIIA fits better with our current economy than Entourage?
Greenberg: I think those comparisons are inevitable just because it's HBO and Mark Wahlberg [is an executive producer for both shows], but it's a totally different show. I do think that it's very timely with the economy. You can no longer just go to college, get your degree, do your career. Now people are struggling to do multiple jobs at the same time. You have to do a bunch of different hustles just to get by and that's what this show is tapping into.

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TVGuide.com: Your character, Ben, is clearly not over his ex, Rachel (Lake Bell). How is that going to play out?
Greenberg: It's really interesting to start a show with a breakup and how two people have to deal with that, seeing each other in social circumstances, moving on and not moving. Just like in real life, after the breakup it doesn't just end, the emotions are still there, those encounters still happen.

TVGuide.com: Tell me about all your co-stars.
Greenberg: It's a great cast and Eddie [Kaye Thomas] just kills it every time he has a scene. Luis Guzman doesn't have to say anything to get a laugh. [Rapper] Kid Cudi is turning out to be a comedic gem, which nobody knew — including himself. This show has a very talented young cast, fresh, real. I don't find any false moments. It's awesome to watch and even better to be a part of.

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TVGuide.com: You play a lot of artistic characters. Are you artsy in real life?
Greenberg: Yeah, I always end up playing an artist; it's a very common thread in a lot of my roles. In real life I'm a musician as well, I have an album out, I tour in-between television gigs and movies, so maybe that's what rubs off, I don't know.

TVGuide.com: Will your music be featured on the show?
Greenberg: Every time my music has been placed on a show it's never because I force it on anybody, it's always organically placed. So far they haven't approached me, but I have a very different style from what they're going for.

TVGuide.com: Tell me about your new film, The Good Guy.
Greenberg: It's with Alexis Bledel and Scott Porter and it's just a really interesting look at Wall Street and that culture. My character gets immersed into that world and finds himself in a dangerous little love triangle. It's a really cool indie movie that after watching had me thinking more than I expected. Good little movie — go support your indie films!