House of Cards always seemed to nominally be associated with Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his political maneuverings. But over five seasons, it was his wife Claire (Robin Wright) who proved to be his secret weapon — and an even more powerful political force who is president of the United States in the show's sixth and final season (which dropped on Netflix on Nov. 2). Wright's Season 6 co-stars Diane Lane and Constance Zimmer tell Bustle that they're glad that Wright is finally the House of Cards lead and getting the recognition she deserves, but ultimately, she was actually the show's leader all along.
Zimmer has played Janine Skorsky, a journalist who has both ran from and toward investigating the misdeeds of the Underwoods, since Season 1, while Lane joined House of Cards for the series' sixth and final season as Annette Shepherd, a former classmate of Claire's who runs the politically powerful company Shepherd Unlimited. While both actors worked on the Netflix series for different amounts of time, they both gave similar descriptions of Wright's leadership on House of Cards in interviews with Bustle.
Lane was cast as Annette in 2017 — before Netflix and Media Rights Capital shut down production of House of Cards in October 2017 after Spacey faced multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations (Spacey has denied those claims). In November 2017, Netflix cut ties with Spacey, issuing a statement that said, "Netflix will not be involved with any further production of 'House of Cards' that includes Kevin Spacey." Production resumed in January 2018 with Wright's Claire Underwood as the series lead.
Lane remembers how gracious Wright's leadership was as an actor, director, and executive producer on the series, even before the Spacey allegations surfaced. "I did thank her for the job because I know ain't no way I'm on that set without her thumbs up — and that was before the hiatus," Lane tells Bustle in a phone interview in late October. "It was wonderful to be invited to that dance figuratively and literally with her because it's her show ... We were in the perfect position to throw open the windows, let all the sunshine in, and make it all about Claire's journey."
On-screen, Frank and Claire teamed up to take over the White House, but she had her own schemes and manipulations — she even murdered her own lover, author and speechwriter Tom Yates. But at the end of Season 5, all of those machinations led to Frank facing impeachment for his previous misdeeds and Claire becoming president. In the final moments of the Season 5 finale, she broke the fourth wall while sitting in the Oval Office (just like Frank had done many times before) to tell the audience, "My turn."
Off-screen, Wright emerged as a creative force and leader behind-the-scenes. The Golden Globe winner has been an executive producer on the series since 2016 and has directed several episodes since 2014 — including the series finale. Zimmer tells Bustle that Wright's behind-the-scenes involvement secured her place as the show's lead long before Season 6.
"I have to say the transition was incredibly seamless, because Robin has always, in my opinion, felt like the lead, because of her presence as a female and the strength of the character and the stories that were written for her," Zimmer says in a phone interview in late October. "So it was more exciting to just see it manifested with her in the chair in the White House."
And now, viewers can watch Wright lead the way to House of Cards' final conclusion on Netflix.