Neve Campbell says House of Cards an escape from real politics
NEW YORK — When Netflix’s presidential drama “House of Cards” premièred in 2013 it was so outrageous in its ruthless depiction of U.S. politics that it seemed like science fiction. With season 5 set to begin Tuesday, it seems more like a documentary.
President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and first lady Claire (Robin Wright) are unconscionable in their lust for power. Their ambition is made even more naked through direct nods to the camera (with Claire joining in at the end of last season).
This will be the first season of the series, however, to air after the election of Donald Trump. Suddenly, presidential behaviour has been cast in a whole new light. Do the Underwoods now seem dull and conventional?
We put the question to the Canadian in the cast, Neve Campbell.
“I haven’t met a fan yet who has said, ‘Aww, I don’t think I’m going to bother to watch this year,’” she said while promoting the fifth season in New York with castmate Michael Kelly. “If anything, it’ll be a nice escape.”
In other words, viewers should enjoy these characters even more this season “because they’re not real,” said Campbell.
“You can love to hate these characters, but nothing bad is going to happen when you turn the TV off.”
“To your children, or to your wife,” added Kelly, “or women’s rights, or all the other appalling things that are happening with the current administration.”
Born and raised in Guelph, Ont., Campbell joined the large ensemble cast last season as Texas-based political consultant Leann Harvey.
The 43-year-old actress rose to fame in the ‘90s on the series “Party of Five” and later starred in the four instalments of the “Scream” film franchise. She said the writers have not had to ramp up the horrors on season 5 of “House of Cards” to outpace the headlines coming out of the real White House.
“That already existed on this show, so it’s not like they’re changing anything,” she said. “I think it would have been dangerous to try and suddenly usurp what’s actually happening in the real political climate.”
Besides, she pointed out, production on season 5 wrapped in February, with Trump taking office in January. The “House of Cards” writers simply stuck to their scripts.
Kelly, who plays loyal White House chief of staff Doug Stamper, said he’s proud of the writers for sticking with their vision for the show.
“They would never take from current political madness and try to outdo it just to be the craziest guy on the box.”
That kind of responsive writing probably works best for satire or comedy, suggested Kelly, pointing to the success “Saturday Night Live” and the late night talk shows have had at the expense of the Trump administration.
“In my opinion, however, it’s not worth it,” said Kelly. “I love all that stuff, but I’d rather they did not have great jokes about Hillary.”
Speaking of Clinton, Claire Underwood’s Lady Macbeth-like ambitions have drawn comparisons to the unsuccessful Democratic candidate. Fans shouldn’t take the comparisons too far, however, cautioned Campbell.
“Claire’s not the ideal woman for the job,” she said. “We don’t want to have her in just for the sake of having a female president.”