‘House of Cards’ Star Michael Kelly Recounts Hectic Final Season and Shooting That Closing Scene

TheWrap Emmy magazine: Kelly credits the show’s writers with redoing the final season in just 2 months

The cover story on Tony Hale and Sophie Turner first appeared in the Race Begins issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

It was a problem that might have challenged even Michael Kelly’s ruthless political fixer Doug Stamper.

Production had begun on the sixth season of “House of Cards” when lead actor Kevin Spacey was fired following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct (which he has denied). Shooting was halted as the writers devised a way to re-center the show on Claire Underwood, the wife of Spacey’s craven pol Frank Underwood — and a way to wrap up the acclaimed drama in an eight-episode season (instead of the usual 13).

“The writers were tasked with that duty for two months,” Kelly said. “The fact that they were even able to do it blew me away.” It even got so hectic, he added, “toward the end we were doing it as we went along. There were all these moving puzzle pieces.”

The season revolves around the mystery of who murdered Frank Underwood. As he has been for the entire run of the series, Doug Stamper is obsessed with protecting Frank’s reputation at any cost. While everybody else is scheming nonstop and jockeying for power, Doug is constantly switching sides as he tries to figure out what will prevent Frank’s name from being dragged through the mud.

As viewers know (spoiler alert if you haven’t watched!), this ends with the revelation that Doug murdered Frank by tampering with his medication. As Doug explains it on the show: “I had to protect the legacy from the man.”

Kelly himself described his character’s decision as “the most extreme case you could possibly use to exemplify” Doug’s loyalty to Frank. “A lot of it was not specifically to Frank, but to the job,” he said, noting that if Frank’s legacy was tarnished, that would mean the thing that Doug gave his whole adult life to ended up meaning nothing. “He believed that everything they did was the right thing.”

The final scene of the series sees Doug confessing to Claire, who promptly stabs him in the gut. “It was the last scene that we shot,” Kelly said. “We both asked it to be the final scene that we shot for the series.”

Read more from the Race Begins edition of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

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