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House of Cards’ Nathan Darrow on Meechum’s Fierce Loyalty and That Scene

Nathan Darrow as Meechum. Photo: Nathaniel Bell/Netflix

It should be noted that moving forward from this point, we are not responsible for any House of Cards spoilers. Otherwise, it would be impossible for us to discuss the gasp-inducing twist involving Secret Service agent Edward Meechum, when his loyalty for the Underwood power couple went from professional to … personal. That’s right: a good ol’ fashioned threesome. Nathan Darrow, who portrays the normally tight-lipped Meechum, let us ask him about what it’s like to protect the vice-president of the United States and what it’s like to have the vice-president … protect you. [Wink, wink.]

You met Kevin Spacey when you both performed in a production of Richard III, and he recommended you for House of Cards. Weirdly, Richard III is a lot like Frank Underwood — the whole, “rising to power through illicit means” thing.
It’s kind of fortuitous for the show, and for Kevin as an actor — I think he’s spoke of this before — how the year leading up to shooting House of Cards, we were doing Richard III everywhere. The way the show borrows from Shakespeare in terms of tone and theme, not just Richard III. Shakespeare prepares an actor for a lot, as well as preparing a human for a lot.

I guess we should talk about that scene, the threesome. Did you know that was coming very far in advance?
I definitely knew before the final script was done. Beau [Willimon, the show’s creator] kind of told me where it was going, and I think that was a few weeks before we shot the scene. But I didn’t know when the season started.

Was there a point in time when you decided to switch from playing this as a father-son relationship to a straight-up flirtatious one? Sorry, that’s pretty creepy.
No, it’s all right. I don’t know what to say about that. I think obviously what is exciting about the moment for the audience is that it is somewhat surprising and unresolved. I’m not sure that it isn’t that for Meechum himself. Again, the story remains in the air and kind of remains to be explored by the writers and the actors moving forward. So stay tuned.

What’s next for Meechum? He has this potential to blackmail the Underwoods now, and will surely have more to hold against them if remains close to them. If you saw the scene in that way versus being just kind of a sultry surprise, you might see it as a door opening …
There’s also the possibility that it was the expression of a real amount of trust on the part of all three characters for each other. And how that’s going to evolve — that could possibly deepen, or sour. The possibilities are interesting and dangerous. There’s this real need to be a protector; there’s a real need for protection. It appeals to me.

We’re living in a Spoiler Nation, with everyone either avoiding spoilers or seeking them out, to discuss. Was the reaction to that scene — because this is a few episodes in — delayed for you?
People that I know are still reacting to it. But sure, I anticipated, like someone reading a book and getting to chapter seven, I know it’s going to take people time to get to chapter seven. But then I had friends — I had a friend of mine from acting school who left me a really early message saying, “Hey, man, I just unhooked from a massive binge.” He got it all really early.

Yeah, Netflix changed the game in dropping it all at once.
If the story is well-told, we tell the same stories over and over again, so in a sense there are always spoilers. Even if it’s quote-unquote “spoiled,” if we’ve done our work, it’s not going to be spoiled because it’s like knowing how it happens and seeing just how it happens. That’s kind of the larger question of just how we orbit around stories we tell each other.

House of Cards’ Nathan Darrow on Agent Meechum