Michael Kelly Q&A: ‘House of Cards’

We all thought that Michael Kelly’s character, Doug Stamper, had met a tragic fate at the end of season two of “House of Cards.” However, as the actor told us during our recent webcam chat, he knew even then that he was returning this year. But he had to keep this a secret and reveals “all of a sudden my dad emails me… ‘You look dead.' It kind of kept going from there." However, as he concedes, "You know it is 'House of Cards,' they don’t hesitate to kill people, and I was like ‘maybe they changed their mind…’  Like an insecure actor I was freaked out about it for a little while, he [showrunner Beau Willimon] was like ‘dude I told you you were coming back.’”

There were plenty of big moments for President Frank Underwood’s former chief of staff this season beginning with the opening episode where he dominated screen time. The actor readily admits, “When i got that first script as thrilling as it was I was also terrified. I don’t think I’d ever been challenged as an actor like that.”

At the end of the season to get back into Frank’s good graces he has to kill Rachel. As he explains the motivation for his character: “He loved her, it was obviously the hardest thing he ever had to do. So emotionally he loved her; whether it was this weird mother, or looking after her like she was his daughter, or an actual physical love that he had for her at some point, or another. Then it just comes down to his job, and his loyalty to Frank, was the most important thing.”

On the decision not to show the murder of Rachel he thinks, “cinematically it’s so much stronger if you see that moment where she hears the van and it’s just that dread comes over her face like she knows…. And then you just cut to the dirt going on her face it just leaves it open for the audience to go ‘wow, what happened.’” The two actors “joked on set in between takes” about how Rachel died: “‘I think I choked you’ and she [says] ’you couldn’t choke me, it takes like eight minutes to choke someone to death.’ And I was like ‘I don’t think I could take a shovel to your head so I’m going with choke’  had a pretty good laugh about it.”

For Kelly, being apart from Kevin Spacey for much of the season was “really bizarre because I went from doing sometimes four scenes a day with him to four scenes in a season. I would go in to work and I would work all day and the next day he would go into work and he would work all day; and we would be ships in the night and every now and then we’d get a scene. But man, when we got those scenes together it was so fun to be back together. Especially towards the end when we got to do that stuff and we were literally back together.”

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UPLOADED Jun 10, 2015 1:18 pm