There is no doubt that the Netflix original series House of Cards has given us more twists and turns than most thrillers, and when Season 2 tapped out last year, it was Nathan Darrow’s awkwardly likable character Edward Meechum who had everyone talking. Now that Season 3 is upon us, we can’t wait to see what the rather soft-spoken bodyguard will do with his new relationship(s).
As we all hunker down to watch the new episodes of House of Cards, Nathan Darrow is in New York stirring up a whole other pot of trouble in Stolen Chair Theatre Company’s presentation of the ’40s themed Kill Me Like You Mean It. In the play, Darrow portrays a private detective who reads a prophecy of his own death, and has to unravel the mystery. Taking a dose of Film Noir to the stage, the play is described as both hostile and hilarious. Some audience members even sit on stage to be right in the center of the action.
In the most freezing of winter temperatures, Nathan Darrow gave us some warm thoughts about his love of theater, and how his past work with Kevin Spacey in a tour of Richard III created a synergy that has carried forward on House of Cards. We also had a little fun talking about career “what ifs”, and found out more about Darrow’s hometown of Kansas City, upcoming projects and more. Read on…
What are the pros and cons of doing stage plays versus filming for television?
Nathan Darrow: My experience in film is still kind of limited, so I’m still exploring its particular mysteries and that’s really exciting. I guess I would say the big difference is in theater everyone is in the moment together. We’ve typically rehearsed the play, [and]it’s being received by the audience in that very moment. There’s something really powerful and exciting about that. It has its own pressure and its own reward.
In film, you’re working with a crew that’s as much a part of where you’re shooting as the actors. Someone is moving that camera and focusing that camera at just the right moment. That could be a wonderful experience too because sort of like you’re doing this mysterious dance with technology, and really you’re making colors and things that make the movie work, because the editor comes in and puts their timing in it with the director. So they are very different.
I guess acting is acting… you’re still going to find yourself alive in some imaginable world with its own circumstances, and you’re doing whatever you can as a professional and as a person to find yourself there. That part I don’t think is really different. That is a challenging thing no matter what! [laughs]
You’re playing a detective in Kill Me Like You Mean It, and a bodyguard on House of Cards, and you were an officer on Blue Bloods… do you think you have a face that reads “authority”? Do you worry about being typecast?
ND: Every actor probably worries about being typecast, but it’s kind of a nice worry to have. There’s a fate worse than being typecast, and that is being type ignored, so I’m not going to complain too much.
Besides the fact that, hopefully, as an actor you’re looking deeply enough at everything you do and you see that this detective is of course very different from that police officer and what not. If you can get your imagination going in a specific way, then hell, it doesn’t really matter. Sure, there’s the issue of the audience have something when they come to see you and they’re making something in their minds, then its harder to get over on, but that’s not quite in my control.
How does that bond you had with Kevin Spacey pre-House of Cards affect your acting relationship on the show, and how much say do you and Kevin get with the writers on how your characters interact?
ND: Well, I don’t have anything to do with the writing of the show. I am very content to leave that in the hands of Beau Willimon and his staff, they’re damn good. As far as knowing Kevin as I do personally, yeah of course. Just like a band who plays for a while together, and maybe they know each other, they can sort of start to sense the rhythm of the other.
They can also kind of get used to who that person is and maybe what they struggle with and reach for in their lives. In acting, you’re going for relationships that are hopefully dynamic and interesting, so if you do know that person, it could be great fuel for your life within the work.
What do you like best about playing in a period piece like Kill Me Like You Mean It?
ND: Well it’s always nice to have some of your work done for you. When you’re going into a period or style, you’re going to be putting on a set of clothes that are specific and you gotta make your body do something different. Of course borrowing from these Noir films, you see a certain posture that I think at first you grab it, and that’s a nice thing because when you start working you’re thinking of how you’re gonna stand and what you’re gonna do with your hands.
It’s kind of nice to have that structure within which hopefully you can start to live and breathe honestly, and with great fun. Film Noir is very sexy, and it’s sexy in a way that’s it not direct and in your face per say. That’s a joy to try and get inside of.
ND: It would be Smokey the Bandit and I would play Burt Reynolds [Bo Darville aka The Bandit].
Of you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would that be?
ND: I would say that you don’t have to have everything put together right now. You can relax and just worry about what you can change today, what you can work on right now, instead of feeling like you have to be finished in all things completely.
Are there any favorite books of yours that you’d like to see made into a play, show or film?
ND: Yes, it’s Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. It’s clearly unmakeable in any conventional sense, but that would be it.
If we were to visit your hometown of Kansas City, what are some spots you’d recommend that we must see, or places we should dine?
ND: I would probably have some Barbecue of course. I would go to Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue at some point. There’s a neighborhood there when I was living and working there as an actor that’s kind of like the midtown Kansas City Art Institute area and it’s just a very pretty place. It’s a major visual art gallery in Kansas City. I would definitely go there.
I also like downtown, and downtown is starting to come along. For many years it didn’t have much life going, on but it’s all really coming back. Kansas City is a really interesting place to be – discovered and on the rise in terms of culture and things happening. I think if I were to go back right now, I would try to see everything that’s changed, which would probably be a lot.
Can you tell us a little about your role in the film The Inherited?
ND: The Inherited is a film I worked on about a year ago via a director named Devon Gummersall [My So Called Life, Roswell], and it was written by an actor named Jenn Liu who also played kind of opposite me. It’s sort of like a psychological thriller. It’s sort of like an updated retelling of the novel/movie Rebecca. It was fun working it.
How do your fans inspire and motivate you?
ND: As an actor I’m always motivated to try and bring something special to whoever is going to view what it is that I’m working on. I’m always trying to bring a quality that is surprising and hopefully complex. So if that’s gets people interested in me, then I guess I’ll try to keep doing that. [laughs]
Is there anything else you have coming up that we should know about?
ND: I did shoot on a nice guest role on a pilot [Billions] that was made for Showtime about the [Madoff] Hedge Fund Scandal. It’s a great script. I think it’s fantastic. It’s with Damian Lewis [of Homeland]who plays this billionaire hedge funder and he’s pitted against Paul Giamatti’s U.S. attorney. It’s sort of like a cat and mouse thing but it’s really good. It was really fun to do and I can’t wait to see how that comes out.
Another project, we’re shooting half of it now and the other half in six months, is a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. It’s very interesting. I think we start that March 15th.
Are there any current TV shows you’d love to do a guest appearance on?
ND: I’m a big fan of Louis C.K. I really like that show [Louie] and I really like the parts he writes and the way he directs that show.
What do you want people to know most about you as a man at this stage of your life and career?
ND: I’ve never thought about that question. I don’t think there is a thing I want people to know about me… like me, Nathan. I’m still trying to know about me Nathan. I’m not saying I’m walking here in crisis, I’m not, I’m a pretty happy person. As far as knowing yourself, it is something everyone is here to do.
I guess when you’re talking about acting, it gets funny and tricky, because then it starts to seem like “oh we need that person revealed and we need to see who that person is, and all the kind of faces and shapes that they have.” I’m not discounting that. That is the mysterious thing we want to see from actors. But I don’t think it’s something we can put too much language to. It’s hopefully revealed in the work. It’s not revealed in any strategic way like, “oh I have this role and I could show this side of myself…”
When that’s happening inside the actor, it’s unlikely that they are going to show much. The most interesting thing we’re going to show, we’re going to show without necessarily knowing it. And then when it’s seen by an audience, hopefully it’s understood in a way that’s conscious or explained.
Watch House of Cards Season Three on NetFlix beginning February 27!
PS: Nathan is not on social media, so you’ll have to catch him at one of his performances to let him know how awesome he is.