Warning: This story contains major spoilers for the sixth and final season of House of Cards.
House of Cards delivered a doozy when it revealed Doug Stamper was the person behind Frank’s demise. Yes, Frank was killed by his biggest fan and closest confidante, who ended up getting killed off himself before it was all said and done. Actor Michael Kelly revealed his reactions to those killer twists, saying this when asked if he was warned about Doug taking Frank out early on:
We talked about it at length before it went to paper. When [showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson] first approached me, obviously it was incredibly shocking to hear it [laughs], but I’ve been very blessed over the years that they’ve given me such incredible material. It made total sense. When you think about his entire mission, Doug, being the addicted character that he is, constantly has to have something to obsess over, and for him it was clearing that name, saving that legacy. [His murder] was about how to save Frank from himself. He was going to destroy his legacy, and Doug couldn’t have that, you know?
Fans knew that Frank Underwood was a goner before Season 6 premiered. That confirmation came via a promotional clip for the political drama’s final season. The revelation that Stamper killed Frank was something that fans were harder pressed to have imagined, though. The close relationship that existed between Doug and Frank throughout the series’ run made the revelation all the more jaw-dropping.
The truth was eventually exposed in the final season, as House of Cards ultimately revealed that Doug gave his one-time mentor an overdose of the latter’s liver medication. Thus, no more Frank Underwood.
Since one good shock deserves another, the murderer ended up becoming a murder victim himself when the shifty Claire fatally stabbed Doug in the Oval Office, using a letter opener. That scene was the final one filmed for House of Cards, and was directed by Michael Kelly’s screen partner and the series’ star and rescuer, Robin Wright. Kelly shared what it was like filming the climatic conclusion, saying this to EW:
It was incredible on one hand. On the other hand, we ended up doing, I think, over 14 hours on that scene. [The scene] was five pages, and we took a full day. Robin’s directing and doing this incredibly charged, emotional scene, so by the end of it, the two of us were just on fumes. So when the AD team stepped out and said, ‘That’s a wrap on Michael fucking Kelly, [laughs] — that’s what they call me, ‘Michael fucking Kelly’ — I just felt this wave of emotion for this crew that I’ve worked with for six years. Most of them are my second family. I was already incredibly emotional and exhausted and all that, but I remember saying, ‘Guys, I’m probably going to get out two words here, but I just want to say thank you and how much I love each and every one of you, and I couldn’t do it without you,’ and I started bawling and crying. And then [laughs] they were like, ‘Alright, that’s a wrap on Robin Wright,’ and Robin got up and gave this beautiful, elegant speech with no tears. [Laughs] She’s so… she’s Claire.
It is safe to say that Michael Kelly underwent quite the emotional rollercoaster. He goes from shooting an emotionally draining death scene for an extended period of time to then saying goodbye to the cast and crew he has come to care about deeply. Speaking of that crew, House of Cards aficionados know too well about the show’s near-premature end. In his interview, Kelly joins his fellow co-stars in crediting Robin Wright with saving the series.
Some fans may be wondering what on earth Doug was thinking when he went to see Claire. More specifically, was he was prepared to die? Michael Kelly provided insight into Doug Stamper’s mindset, saying:
Yeah, I think… I think when he walked in there, what he wanted more than anything was for her to give the pardon. He gives her every reason to give him that — he says to her, ‘Here’s a full list of who wants you dead, I’ve once again done all the work, you’re set.’ And when she doesn’t, he can’t take it. [Laughs] He’s like, ‘I’ve always been able to get what I want.’ He just loses it. He’s playing with a new hand, but ultimately there’s no way to navigate it.
As it turns out, Doug’s play turns out to be his last. Instead of getting his pardon, he got killed. Earlier in the interview, Michael Kelly said that he believes Doug finally found peace in his final moments. Citing Doug’s inability to kill Claire caused by him still seeing “a part of Frank there.”
So, what was Doug thinking amidst his ultimately lethal confrontation with Claire? Michael Kelly shared that Frank’s one-time right-hand man feels as though that’s the way it has to be. In the end, Doug made it to the final episode of the series, but since he did not survive his final scene, you can probably count out that Doug Stamper spinoff. Unless they made it a prequel…
House of Cards entire six-season run is available to stream on Netflix. The political drama’s final season is among a lot of new content arriving on the streaming giant this fall.
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