If you somehow haven’t watched House of Cards Season 3 yet, then there’s going to be at least one major spoiler ahead.
If you’ll recall, the last episode of House of Cards Season 2 saw Frank Underwood’s Chief of Staff Doug Stamper getting his head smashed with a brick by his prostitute obsession Rachel. For most of us, it appeared that Doug was a goner, lying there with his eyes open as a helicopter passed overhead, and this season immediately blew our minds by revealing Doug was alive and in the hospital, recovering from brain damage. As it turns out, actor Michael Kelly wasn’t even aware of his questionable fate, and easily could have ruined the entire thing.
Speaking with Variety, Kelly shared he was relieved that following “a year of lying, I can finally get to tell the truth.” How could there have possibly been mixed signals about that harrowing scene? He explains further.
When we shot it, it was written as, ‘Stamper is lying there, but he is breathing.’ It was written as that, we filmed it as that. And then I was in the way Northern Italian Alps filming Everest last winter when it came out. I couldn’t stream it there. I would get shoddy email — 50 of them would pop up at a time. My dad’s email was the first one to come through, and it said, ‘Wow, great job this season, but you looked pretty dead to me.’ The next one was from my business manager, ‘It was a hell of a run while it lasted.’ And everyone had already run with the story that I was dead.
I still think he’s dead just looking at this picture.
Because he was having problems communicating from his location, Kelly had no idea if the House of Cards creative team had actually changed direction and decided to kill him off. Luckily, he didn’t start shooting his mouth off to anyone about it and played it safe, thus ensuring one of the series’ most shocking moments didn’t get ruined a year before Season 3 came around. (And Season 3 has its own shocker that could easily get ruined if someone speaks too soon.)
Thankfully, good old Doug ended up getting his revenge on Rachel by the season’s end, running her down with a van and burying her in a shallow grave. Doug’s storyline this season relied almost too heavily on locating her, so that grave better stay unfound in Season 4 so that Doug can finally move on.
That wasn't the only time Kelly was left in the dark about his story, either. He was also led to believe by showrunner Beau Willimon that his affiliation with Presidential nominee candidate Heather Dunbar was completely legit.
Beau let me believe I was going to work for Dunbar for a good bit of it. He said, 'I couldn’t have you thinking it was fake, or it was going to come across as fake. I had to have you feel as if you were really going to work for her.'
It's going to be a long ass wait for Season 4 to come around Netflix's way, but at least we know that Doug is back to basics as Frank's right-hand-man. That's all we ever wanted anyway.