Neve Campbell says House of Cards an es­cape from real pol­i­tics

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - BILL BRIOUX

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.”

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