(Warning: big spoiler ahead if you haven’t seen episode four of the new season.)
Actor Nathan Darrow knew he would get the call sooner or later about the fate of his “House of Cards” character, Secret Service agent Edward Meechum. And over the break before shooting season four, he got it from creator Beau Willimon.
“He told me what would happen, and I told him I daydreamed what would happen to Meechum, and this was definitely one of the endings I imagined,” Darrow told Business Insider.
Meechum is a favourite of the show. The loyal personal bodyguard of President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), he’s done everything Underwood asked of him, and even partook in an intimate threesome with Frank and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) in season two.
But in episode four of the fourth season that premiered on Netflix Friday, we see the end of Meechum.
While at a rally for his re-election, Underwood walks over to a group of protestors.
While talking to the group, Meechum standing alongside him, Underwood is shot by someone in the crowd. It turns out to be Lucas Goodwin, played by Sebastian Arcelus, one of the last people who knew about Frank’s affair with Zoe Barnes and murder of Peter Russo.
Goodwin shoots Underwood and Meechum, but Meechum, in addition to covering his boss, is able to shoot and kill Goodwin.
As Underwood is rushed off to the hospital by the other Secret Service, Meechum lies on the ground dead.
Darrow remembers that the day of shooting the episode, directed by Wright, was a tense one. It included a lot of former Secret Service members on set as technical advisors.
“We were told what our physical reaction would be after shots were fired,” Darrow said. “We were really invested in it. It was satisfying.”
He also remembers Wright being jazzed up to shoot the scene.
“Robin is a really gifted director, so she’s always on her game, but that day there was a look in her eye, and she was fired up creatively on what she could do visually with the scene. So that made me feel good that she was excited.”
The one piece of direction Wright drove home to Darrow on that day: “Don’t let the camera see you breathing after you’re dead,” he recalls.
But that wasn’t the last scene Darrow shot for the show. His final scene to be filmed appears earlier in the episode, when Frank traces Meechum’s hand on the hallway wall in the White House.
“I’m glad that was the last one,” he said. “It was nice to go out on a lighter one.”
As much as the show changed his life, Darrow doesn’t make a big deal of ending the gig. He was flattered that, after his last scene, Willimon halted production and said some nice words about him to the cast and crew.
But as Darrow puts it, “Actors know the job will be over at some point.”
So what were the other possibilities he daydreamed for how Meechum would go out?
“I thought he would be with Frank, long after Frank is out of office, and he’d be pushing Frank’s wheelchair,” Darrow said. “Or everything that’s going on has been eating away at Meechum, and he just self-destructs. But what they went with seemed very appropriate.”
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