Interview: Michael Kelly of ‘House of Cards’ Talks Doug Stamper and the Future

House of Cards” had a resurgent season this year, thanks in part to the tremendous acting of Michael Kelly as the President’s Chief of Staff, Doug Stamper. Given some of the most challenging material during his time on the show, Kelly was able to rise to the occasion.

“There was something really special about this season…and it felt that way doing it,” Kelly remarked during our chat.

From sitting at a table with friends during season 1 wondering if the show would be eligible for Emmys to actually being nominated for an Emmy, the show, and Kelly, have come a long way.

Some actors might be daunted by a longer run or struggle to find new wrinkles to their characters, but Michael Kelly revels in getting to spend time and energy with Doug Stamper.

“I hope I don’t let people down but I never find that to be the case. Everything this guy does…I get it…I’m never bored at work, I’m never bored when I get a script. I can’t wait to start working…it’s like the greatest gift I’ve been given.”

What was most revealing with talking to Kelly was just how deeply he understands his character, whom he says is driven by addiction. Whether that’s to alcohol, or to the political machinations of an Underwood presidency, Stamper as played by Kelly, is driven by calculated force.

The show however presented him unique challenges. Stamper got a rival in the form of Leann Harvey (Neve Campbell) whom he affectionately dubbed Lady Stamper. Kelly enjoyed getting to interact with someone who was more on Stamper’s level. While Leann provides Stamper with many an opportunity for strong moments, Stamper’s biggest moment might have been choking Press Secretary Seth Grayson (Derek Cecil) with a glass, which was one of the season’s most visceral moments. Kelly tells that initially Cecil was unsure how this would work, but Stamper is so bad ass that Kelly never doubted it would be possible.

“It was difficult in a way, for the character to go from 0 to 60 like that and to play that beat, but not play through it at once…but everything with Stamper is internalized and well thought out.”

Looking to the future, Michael Kelly is excited for where his character is going to go, though he doesn’t know where that might be yet. However, with the direction the show is going, it’s not hard to envision Kelly getting even more chances to show off his skills as an actor and tear into some juicy material.

Listen to the full interview below:

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