Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety‘s chief TV critic, Daniel D’Addario, speaks with actor Michael Kelly of “House of Cards,” and senior TV reporter Daniel Holloway speaks with Kelly’s new co-star, Greg Kinnear.
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Kelly returns as Doug Stamper in the sixth and final season of “Cards,” which arrived Nov. 2 on Netflix. He spent most of the show’s first five seasons playing against former series lead Kevin Spacey, who was written out of the show following real-life allegations of sexual misconduct.
“One of the greatest themes that I got to play this season was loss,” Kelly said. “Everything that he knew — his entire professional career — is just gone.” Kelly went into detail about the process by which the final season of the political drama, which had been scripted with Spacey’s Frank Underwood still alive, was salvaged, thanks in substantial part to the effort and leadership of Robin Wright, who plays Claire Underwood, now serving as President.
“After you try to start to process this,” Kelly says, “one of the first calls I made was to Robin and I was like, ‘What are we going to do? We can’t not do this.’ And she was like, ‘I’m already on it.'” Kelly and Wright had barely shared screen time without Spacey before this season, but now face off at length. “She’s just so good as an actor. I’ve been blessed with the people I’ve [acted with] — Rachel Brosnahan and Kevin and now Robin, to get to punch it out with those guys is incredible.”
Kelly, who will next appear on Season 2 of the Amazon action series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” reflected on what the show — the first major streaming series — has meant to the world and to him. “I think to the world, unfortunately, it’s meant a little too much,” Kelly says, citing stories that Vladimir Putin had asked cronies to watch the show to understand the politics of dominance and power, American-style. “That goes too far.” But the show’s influence has also extended, more benignly, to television, and Kelly sees it as the precursor to all that followed, the entire universe of streaming TV now available. “To think that you were part of that revolution — I feel really grateful.”
With the new season, Kinnear — an Academy Award nominee and two-time Emmy nominee — and Diane Lane join the cast as Bill and Annette Shepherd, a brother and sister who are part of the behind-the-scenes Washington elite. “For me, I felt like it was an exciting opportunity to work within a great show and with great actors,” Kinnear said. “And Diane Lane was going to be my sister. That had me, too.”
Kinnear said early comparisons of the characters to the Koch brothers are apt — and that the real-life political power players were cited by showrunners Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese when describing the characters to Kinnear and Lane. “They used them as an example, and I think they threw out a few other examples,” Kinnear said. “It was a good guidepost.”
|Greg Kinnear photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety