Early on in the final season of House of Cards, which debuts today on Netflix, wealthy businessman Bill Shepherd (Greg Kinnear) has a very tense encounter with President Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) in the Oval Office. There’s no need to spoil the confrontation here, of course, but of all the moments that define Bill throughout the series, this one stands out. Then again, as Kinnear explains it to Metro, both Bill and his sister Annette Shepherd (Diane Lane) are completely “entitled, arrogant and formidable,” not too different from the Koch brothers.
Greg Kinnear on how the Koch brothers inspired this House of Cards season 6 character
“I felt like they had a guy who is one of two parts,” says Kinnear. “He and his sister are definitely married in a way. I wouldn't call it a good cop/bad cop relationship, but the two of them together are quite effective at getting results. I think [showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson] mentioned the Koch brothers or some of these other well-connected, financially well-to-do families that aren't really aren't elected to anything. They don't have a need to do anything, but through their connections and their money, they are able to express their willpower and change policy.”
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The Koch brothers comparison is rather apt, given Kinnear and Lane’s performances as the siblings Bill and Annette. From the very beginning of season 6, the pair is almost always working in consultation with one another against Claire’s own presidential agenda, which leads to many showdowns, including the one in the Oval Office.
“I think that Koch brothers reference is a good one because you hear the word ‘brothers’ and immediately know there is a familial connection for them,” the actor notes. “They're protective of that, and I think they need each other in a way. Yet, like all families, that can be a hard mechanism to keep working without it getting volatile.”
“In fact, as it moves along,” Kinnear adds before stopping himself with a laugh. “I don't want to give anything away.”
And he’s totally right, for as exciting as it is to discuss the nitty, gritty details of the remaining twists and turns that “House of Cards” has in store for audiences, it’s even more exciting to watch it for the first time.
This is especially true for Kinnear, who counts himself among the show’s many fans.
“I remember watching the first episode and the first season and being kind of gobsmacked,” he recalls. “Seeing the level of work in the aesthetic, in the design, in the writing, the acting and all of it was amazing. It had elevated the television experience to something that, as someone who had worked primarily in film, I didn't realize was possible. It was hard not to be taken with what they were doing on this show, and with how consistently good and interesting it was.”
House of Cards season 6 is now on Netflix.