In the latest Through The Lens, Jazz Tangcay talks to Michael Kelly about playing Doug Stamper on House Of Cards and having closure to the character.
STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST SEASON… SPOILER ALERT!!
For six seasons Michael Kelly played Doug Stamper on Netflix’s House of Cards. His purpose was his loyalty to Frank Underwood for years, serving and protecting Frank, offering his liver when Frank was shot. That’s how loyal Stamper was.
Through the years, Doug has been through it, addiction, recovery and relationships, but this season, with Frank Underwood dead, it gave Kelly a chance to shine like the star he is. And what a season it was. What an ending, a fitting one it was.
Rumors of a Stamper spin-off were swiftly answered in the bloody finale, and it provided closure for Kelly.
In the latest, Through The Lens series, I caught up with Kelly to recap and highlight the finale and working on the Emmy-nominated show. We caught up earlier in the year for a more in-depth discussion, but for now, here’s the moment to shine the light on Michael Kelly and his Emmy-nominated performance in House of Cards.
I always go back to it, but it really is gratitude that I made it six seasons, and that he was in the final frame and gratitude that I was able to be a part of something that was so special for so long. It was the longest that I’d ever been on a series by a long shot.
I loved my crew so much that for me, I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. I loved that job so much. I loved going to work so much. I loved being on set. I loved everyone around me. It was such a great family that gratitude is the best way to explain it.
To be challenged like that as an actor every day. You don’t always get that.
It’s House of Cards so I knew there was going to be bloodshed in the final season. I thought, “Well, I’ve made it to the final season, hopefully, I’ll make it to the very end.”
For me, personally, It felt really good to have finality and closure to something and to know that all the talks of the spin-off, there’s no more talking about that. I can truly separate myself and move on. There’s something really nice about that, getting to say goodbye.
Other than the first time, I was nominated, this was the most meaningful. I get to send this character off right in my eyes. I get to give him a proper send-off by going to the party one last time alongside that crew and with Robin. I got to say goodbye.
The last day was probably the hardest day I’ve ever had on the show for so many reasons. Robin and I had asked for that to be the final scene that we shot, so it had a lot of emotional weight tied to it.
Walking on to that set and into the Oval Office for the last time was so much. I looked at the crew, and they’ve been family for six years. As tight as we are now, this is the job of an actor, and you say goodbye to that family and you move on. You knew you might never see some of those people ever again. There was so much emotional baggage tied to it.
I had to break down and cry. I used Gary Jay, the camera operator to elicit tears at times because I ran out of them. He went through so many emotions in that final scene, and I remember saying, “Gary, can I just give you a hug man?” I hugged him and started bawling. The emotional baggage attached to that day was a lot.
The friendships were a highlight. As an actor, the stuff I got to do with Rachel Brosnahan was great. We both worked in a very similar way and both prepared in a very similar way. We both dove in. we lined up well together, and I think that’s why they kept writing for those two characters together because there was a certain chemistry between the two of them that was undeniable.
When we went to Santa Fe for that episode and we flew out to New Mexico together for that final scene, you can’t beat that.
Getting to play with Robin, those two characters had such bizarre chemistry over the years, you could cut through that tension with a knife. Through everything that happened, it pushed us to where we got to play it out.
I’ve always loved working with Robin, and let her direct me. To have all those scenes with her, she’s such a talent.