Kim Dickens' character made a splash on House of Cards season three when she came in, guns blazing and ready to take President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) down. For the actress, who recently received rave reviews for her work in Gone Girl on the big screen, the House of Cards gig is sort of a dream come true.
"I just got a phone call from them and talked to Beau Willimon about this character," she tells E! News about joining the show. "I said, ‘Yeah, I'll do it, I don't even care what the character is, it's my favorite show.' Then he told me about the character and I was like, ‘Of course! I'll do whatever you want.' It just seemed like a really, fun, formidable role to play."
The brassy Kate Baldwin comes back to the White House Press Corp. fold after Underwood has her protégé booted for digging a little too much for his liking.
We chatted with Dickens, who is fresh off of filming The Walking Dead spinoff/companion series for AMC, to discuss her character's purpose, Frank Underwood and Los Angeles zombies. Warning, House of Cards spoilers.
When you joined the show, were you told your character's arc?
Yes, but I still went into it thinking, "Oh gosh, am I going to get thrown in front of a subway." I don't know what's to come of it, but I was pretty much given the arc, yeah.
As I was watching it—and I talked to some friends who had finished—I was waiting for your character…she was on Frank Underwood's trail with this big piece about the hurricane and suddenly it was dropped. Then she didn't really have anything on him...I was waiting for her to really get her claws into him.
Yeah, yeah. So maybe there's more to come, I don't know. It would be fun to go back and do some more. She's the one to uncover things, I think.
Definitely, and I think that's what viewers were waiting for too. In a way, I felt like she was going to act on behalf of the audience and call Frank out on these actions, some of them deplorable.
Yeah, she was sort of the surrogate to the audience saying, ‘Hey, what's going on? This guy's a monster!' It was sort of fun to get to be that sort of fearless voice that has nothing to lose, that's a high level reporter that comes back to DC and gets to say, ‘You know what? I'm not even going to pretend I'm not coming after the administration because I don't have to pretend.' That was a really fun strength to play.
Do you have a favorite part about her?
My favorite part about the role was I got to play that public persona, that public work persona of, ‘I'm here in a big way to do my job and to report on what I think is the truth of the situation.' And then I got to couple that with this sort of private side to her where she sort of walked the lines of what's professionally ethical to start sleeping with this other journalist/author. I thought it was really fun to have this big public persona and then you get to see this intimate side to her too, having an affair. She seems like a real person and those are always more fun to play.
Were the cast and crew welcoming? Now the show is in season three…was it hard to join the cast at all?
I was a huge fangirl of the show, so once I realized I was actually doing it and I thought about it, it felt intimidating. Like, ‘Oh my god, I have to go work with all these amazing characters that I love. I mean, Frank Underwood!' It was intimidating, the thought of it. When I got there, you see Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and they're these beautiful, strong, charismatic people and luckily not as dangerous in real life. [Laughs.] But once I got there everyone was so welcoming and it's such a great crew and cast. It was a very fun experience, easy to just walk into and start working with them.
You said you haven't seen the whole season, but you know what happens, right?
I would like to see your character and Claire team up and take Frank down.
Oh, you think so?! Wouldn't that be fascinating? Oh my god, that's a great idea. My first thought was am I going to be murdered and is it going to be Claire that kills me, that's what I went in thinking, but that's an interesting take on it. That would make perfect sense.
Feel free to share that idea.
I'm going to text Beau right now.
Did you like that ending with Claire?
I loved it.
I love Robin Wright in that role.
Oh, I know. She directed a couple of episodes this season and I think she's a phenomenal director and she was just born to do it.
The Internet was very delighted when you were announced as the lead in The Walking Dead's spinoff—were you a fan of the show?
I had not watched it, no…In fact, when I was getting close to getting the role I inquired what I should watch of it and they said don't watch it because A. It's going to be different than that and B. Your character wouldn't know what the apocalypse looks like anyway, you know? It was interesting to think of it that way. ‘Oh yeah, I don't need to watch it.' We're going to be doing something different, it's going to be filmed differently. My character wouldn't know that, she wouldn't have that information so it was a fascinating way to start it, sort of clueless just like the characters really are.
Have you read the comic books at all?
No, no. I'd love to. I should, though. Robert Kirkman's a super cool guy. Have you read the comic books?
Yeah and I watch the show. They're very different.
Oh, they are? Do you like them?
I do, I like both of them. The comic books are even scarier if that's possible.
Really? But ours is not based on a comic book, right?
No, he's making new characters. What can you tease? I know they're very secretive.
I can't really, I just know we'll know pretty soon if it goes to series. It's set in Los Angeles. It's not the same time as the mothership, The Walking Dead, and I don't know much beyond the pilot itself.
I wonder if the zombies in LA will look different because of all the plastic surgery.
[Laughs.] Yeah, we're going to have sexy zombies! All I know is there are more zombies that need killing.
Do roles like that freak you out? Are you easily rattled by horror movies?
I don't really watch horror movies because I do get rattled by it, like, I'll have a nightmare or something. I don't really like horror things, but to film them it doesn't bother me. Hollow Man didn't bother me, this didn't bother me. I'm able to separate it out psychologically.
One final Walking Dead question: What would be essential for you, Kim, to survive a zombie apocalypse?
Essential for me, Kim? Um…wow. That's a tough question! Chris, that's a tough question! Jeez. Well, I mean my cat, Lil' Tiger with me, I'm going to need Gatorade [Laughs.] I'm going to need some guns, I don't know. [Laughs.]
House of Cards season three is streaming now on Netflix. This interview has been edited and condensed.