— Claire Hale
Claire Hale (born 1965) is the 47th and current President of the United States, assuming office after the resignation of her husband Francis Underwood. She is the first woman to serve as President.
Prior to this she served as the 51st Vice President of the United States. She was also the first woman to serve as Vice President. In her career, she also served as Acting President of the United States, 46th First Lady of the United States, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Before becoming Second Lady, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Clean Water Initiative until she handed it over to her Office Manager Gillian Cole.
- Second Lady of the United States (2013 – 2014)
- First Lady of the United States (2014 – 2017)
- Vice Presidency (2017)
- Presidency (2017 – present)
- Behind the Scenes
- Claire Underwood’s Pregnancy In ‘House Of Cards’ Season 6 Was The Ultimate Power Move
- ‘House of Cards’ Bosses Explain That Complicated and Surprising Final Scene
- Ellen Burstyn is a real mother on ‘House of Cards’
- Chapter 41
- How Did Frank Underwood Really Die In ‘House Of Cards’ Season 6? It Was Shakespearean, To Say The Least
- How Does Frank Underwood Die on House of Cards?
- Who Are The Shepherds on House of Cards?
- Does Frank Underwood Appear in House of Cards Season 6?
- Spotify made jogging playlists for House of Cards’ Frank and Claire Underwood
Claire Hale Underwood was very close to her father; her mother even stating: “You got away with murder”. This paternal closeness resulted in a strained relationship with her mother, Elizabeth Hale. As Claire moved from childhood to adolescence this strain turned to estrangement. Claire Underwood’s mother always told her to frown less and smile more but never considered her personal feelings were in the way of her happiness; she just couldn’t smile from the inside out.
In the Season 2, it is revealed that Claire grew up in the elite enclave city of Highland Park in Dallas County, Texas. Her parents were referred to as being very wealthy and she has come from generations of ranchers. Before attending Radcliffe she went to school at the prestigious Phillips Academy. Claire was sexually assaulted by a classmate, future General Dalton McGinnis, during her freshman year at Radcliffe. Despite media suggestions, Claire refers to her childhood as a happy one.
In the third season (Chapter 32) it is revealed that Claire was 22 years old when she and Francis got married, 28 years prior. Therefore, Claire was born in 1965 with high certainty.
Claire earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental health and chemistry at Radcliffe College and her master’s degree in public health at Harvard University. At Radcliffe, Claire met Frank Underwood. The couple agreed not to have children, and in the finale of Season 1, it was revealed that Claire has had three abortions. Through an interview in Season 2, it was revealed that Claire’s rapist is now a General in the military, and Claire falsely claimed she had an abortion afterwards in order not to reveal to the public that she aborted Frank’s child during his first campaign.
During the military gala where McGinnis was to be given an award for his military deeds, Claire tells Frank the story behind freshman year, to which he reacts furiously.
Clean Water Initiative
Up until Season 2, Claire was the CEO of the Clean Water Initiative. A charity non-profit organisation intended on bringing clean, drinkable water across developing, impoverished countries. During her tenure, she proved to be just as ruthless and pragmatic as her husband. One example was firing half of the CWI staff due to unavailability of funds after Frank was not made the Secretary of State. Also, one of the main reasons for her even working at CWI is simply to make herself and her husband seem like caring individuals.
When Frank was appointed Vice President, Claire had Gillian Cole (despite the fact that she was fired) become the CWI’s new CEO. After a nasty fight between Claire and her about Gillian’s healthcare plan for her unborn child, Claire ended the argument saying, “I am willing to let your child wither and die inside you if that’s what’s required.”
Second Lady of the United States (2013 – 2014)
When Frank Underwood became Vice President on November 10, 2013, Claire Underwood assumed the role as Second Lady of the United States.
After revealing details of her personal experience as a victim of sexual assault on a live CNN interview, Claire began to work closely with Patricia Walker and Congresswoman Elaine Brooks to put together a bill to allow direct government oversight on military sex assault cases. She even reached out to Megan Hennessey, a former marine who was also raped by McGinnis, and inspired her to become an activist.
Though seemingly having the initial support of Majority Whip Jackie Sharp, she was forced to drop her support for the bill when Jackie caused Megan to have a nervous breakdown during an interview.
First Lady of the United States (2014 – 2017)
During her tenure as First Lady, Claire became the Ambassador to the U.N., and bumped heads with Russian president Viktor Petrov, particularly regarding the freeing of Michael Corrigan in July 2015. After her resignation, President Underwood nominated Francesca Gerlach to replace her.
After the assassination attempt of her husband on March 17, 2016, Claire became an advocate for gun control, and helped pass a Gun Control Bill to Congress the following Summer.
At the 2016 Democratic Convention, there was no clear Vice Presidential candidate to complete the party ticket, so President Francis Underwood held an open convention for Vice President. Openly, the Underwoods supported Secretary of State Catherine Durant, but behind closed doors, had small numbers of delegates vote for Claire, with the Underwoods dismissing it as “good fun”. The Underwoods then convinced the entire Texas delegation to vote for Claire, which put her into serious consideration for Vice President. After the death of Claire’s mother, Cathy Durant released her delegates and ordered them to support Claire’s bid for Vice President.
Vice Presidency (2017)
After both President Underwood and Governor Conway didn’t reach 270 electoral votes, the election for President and Vice President went to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives did not choose a president but the Senate chose Claire Underwood as the 51st Vice President of the United States, which resulted in her being sworn in as the Acting President of the United States, until the House chooses a President. Knowing her husband was unlikely to win in the House, and fearing a Conway-Underwood White House, Claire ordered a revote in Ohio and Tennessee. The Underwoods leaked audio of Conway harassing a pilot, and convinced his campaign manager Mark Usher not to defend him.
After winning the revotes in Ohio and Tennessee, Frank Underwood was inaugurated as President of the United States, and Claire was removed as Acting President and returned to her role as Vice President.
Presidency (2017 – present)
See also: Presidency of Claire Hale
On March 15, 2017, following the resignation of President Frank Underwood, Claire Underwood became the 47th President of the United States.
A few days into her tenure, she oversaw the US killing of Ahmed Al Ahmadi and announced a troop surge in Syria in an address from the White House. She was initially expected to announce a pardon of Frank Underwood but later changed her mind.
Behind the Scenes
Claire Underwood was portrayed by Robin Wright in Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of House of Cards.
|“Chapter 66”||“Chapter 67”||“Chapter 68”||“Chapter 69”||“Chapter 70”|
|“Chapter 71”||“Chapter 72”||“Chapter 73”|
Claire Underwood is a strong and determined individual, traits she admires in others such as Gillian Cole and Zoe Barnes. She doesn’t want to be coddled and held on a pedestal and mentions that Frank was the only man she dated that understood that. As the former leader of CWI, she held a position of power that she uses for the betterment of herself as well as Frank. When she became the Second Lady, she uses this same influence to bring a controversial topic into the national spotlight while recruiting Patricia Walker, the First Lady, to aid in her fight.
She can be just as cold and calculating as Frank, as demonstrated by her decisions to fire half of her staff as well as later betray Frank by helping to defeat an important bill. Despite her ambitions and devotion to Frank, part of her also yearns for a life of spiritual freedom. This is what drew her to freelance photographer Adam Galloway, although she admits that she can’t give up what she has with Frank.
However, she has shown to have some guilt and sadness with her ruthless pragmatism, which is demonstrated following her visit to a rape victim who becomes suicidal after Claire uses and discards her. While she has previously had three abortions, her decision not to have children is perhaps something she second-guesses, as she has previously shown interest and affection towards Peter Russo’s two children.
Claire Underwood had a previous relationship during her youth with Adam Galloway. She left Frank for a time in Season 1 and went to stay with Adam in New York.
During Season 4, Claire develops a close relationship with novelist Thomas Yates upon his return to the White House. During Chapter 49, they are seen to engage in a relationship of a sexual nature. This continues over into Chapter 50, until Yates temporary departure. At the end of the episode, Claire is seen telling Yates she doesn’t want him to leave, telling him “I want you back.”, to which he replies, “I want you back too.”.
- CEO of Clean Water Initiative: 2004-2013
- Second Lady of the United States: November 10, 2013 – October 30, 2014
- First Lady of the United States: October 30, 2014 – March 15, 2017
- United States Ambassador to the United Nations: April 2015 – November 2015
- Vice President of the United States: January 20, 2017 – March 15, 2017
- President of the United States: March 15, 2017 – present
- Claire is the only person who refers to Frank as Francis, and he is also listed in her phone as Francis. In what may have been a deliberate dig and power-play, in the midst of aiming to end their affair, Zoe Barnes does refer to Frank as Francis. His reaction to this is subtle but clear: no one calls him that but Claire.
- Claire is fluent in French as seen in Chapter 30.
- Claire is the first female to assume both the office of Vice President and President of the United States.
| President of the United States
March 15, 2017 – present
| Succeeded by
| Vice President of the United States
January 20, 2017 – March 15, 2017
| Succeeded by
|v • d • e Presidents of the United States|
|v • d • e Vice Presidents of the United States|
|v • d • e Main characters|
Claire Underwood’s Pregnancy In ‘House Of Cards’ Season 6 Was The Ultimate Power Move
Spoilers ahead for House of Cards Season 6 After three previous abortions, President Claire Hale very conveniently becomes pregnant with her late-husband’s baby in House of Cards Season 6. She doesn’t reveal this news until the end of the sixth episode, when Doug (Michael Kelly) starts asking questions about Frank Underwood’s will. He was supposed to have been left everything, but Claire tells the former chief of staff that she and Frank’s prenup had an addendum. This clause stated that if the couple ever had descendants, that the deceased spouse’s assets would go to their offspring. She takes Doug’s hand and places it on her stomach. “Francis and I have been blessed,” she says, coldly. And in that moment, Claire’s pregnancy became the ultimate power move.
Episode 7 opens with the president hosting a national women’s conference. Claire’s wearing a tight-fitting shift dress, which reveals her pregnant stomach. The crowd loves her, and it’s clear that she’s instituted herself as the nation’s maternal figure. As she says in her speech, “My purpose is to elevate America, fight for America, and if it ever came to it, die for America. I will be father, mother, leader, and friend.”
However, later on in the episode, it’s clear that her feminism is one of convenience. The Commander-in-Chief is getting an ultrasound after a brief health scare, and she calls her frenemy Annette, holding her phone out so she can hear the heartbeat pulsing. “You f*cking c*nt,” Claire tells her. “It’s a girl.” Yikes.
Screenshot via Netflix
What’s more, Claire uses the fact that she’s in the family way to manipulate people around her. Meeting with reporter Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) on Air Force One, she asks the writer if she wants to feel the baby kicking. However, Janine holds her ground and declines the intimate invitation. Some people, however, are more malleable. Ironically, the president is able to mend her tense relationship with conservative reporter Melody Cruz, with whom she sits down for a tell-all interview.
Circling back to the abortion plotline, Annette lets it leak that Claire has terminated three pregnancies, and while the president tells the press that one of the babies wasn’t viable, she tells the camera that it was really she and Frank who weren’t capable as parents. So why now? Weren’t she and Frank estranged when he died? This begs the question: is Frank really the father? Perhaps it’s actually the deceased Tom Yates. After all, Claire was having an affair with him in Season 5.
Screenshot via Netflix
Audiences see flashbacks to a young Claire throughout Season 6, and in the finale episode, both young and current Claire talk to each other in the baby’s nursery. “Am I sure this is a good idea?” the young version asks her older self. “What if I’m carrying a demon seed or something? The odds are 50-50.” It’s unclear whether she’s talking about a baby she may have carried when she was younger, resulting in one of her three abortions, or if she’s referring to Claire’s current pregnancy. Either way, it’s clear that the president looks back on her life with regret.
Ultimately, the baby’s fatherhood is never clarified, and since Claire is still pregnant in the Episode 8 finale, it’s anyone’s guess as to what would have happened next. However, here’s what audiences know: That Claire Hale successfully became the first female president, instituted a women-only cabinet, killed off anyone who stood in her way — in doing so arguably becoming just as ruthless as her late husband — and becoming pregnant during her tenure as Commander-in-Chief. And while it’s difficult to imagine Claire as a mother, her pregnancy allowed her to keep Frank’s assets, which was perhaps the point all along.
‘House of Cards’ Bosses Explain That Complicated and Surprising Final Scene
In what has now become a tradition on House of Cards, another season ended with a few spoken words and a look straight into the camera. This time, however, the screen was fading to black for the last time.
“There’s a full-circle element to all of this,” co-showrunner Melissa James Gibson explained to The Hollywood Reporter of the final scene of the series. “How Francis invited us in at the beginning, this is like the coda to that.”
The sixth and final season of the Netflix political saga starring Robin Wright ended — as was promised — with a “beautifully macabre” shocker of a series finale. Much like Kevin Spacey’s disgraceful exit from the series, the mystery of who killed Frank Underwood (Spacey) haunted the entirety of the final season. After Spacey was fired over sexual assault allegations at the height of the #MeToo movement, the House of Cards writers, led by showrunners Frank Pugliese and James Gibson, quickly got to work writing him out of the show when production on the final eight episodes resumed earlier this year.
Their decision was to kill Frank offscreen, but not reveal who had killed him until the final scene of the series, which invited an “inevitable showdown” between President Claire Hale (Wright), who relinquished her Underwood name, and Frank’s former right-hand man Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly).
Frank’s fate was revealed ahead of the season in an early clip, and THR has since reported that the tombstone bearing the Francis J. Underwood name is now open for public viewing in a cemetery in Gaffney, South Carolina — a real town and the fictional hometown from which Frank hails in the show. But even though his death was announced in the first scene of season six, House of Cards quickly planted a seed of speculation into how exactly he died. “You want to know what really happened to him,” Claire tells viewers in one of her many fourth-wall breaks in episode one. “A man like Francis doesn’t just die. That would be, what’s the word? Convenient.”
As the season goes on, it’s revealed that the public believes Frank died of a heart attack caused by an accidental overdose of his liver medication. Claire told the world that she woke up to find him dead next to her in bed. House of Cards viewers, however, know that Claire and Frank have separate bedrooms in the White House, for one thing, and that at the end of season five, Claire had banished him to a hotel. Claire eventually says she believes Frank was murdered, but is she telling the truth? As it turns out, she was.
After “weaponizing” assumptions made about women and abusing her power, Claire revealed she was pregnant with Frank’s baby. In season two, Claire and Frank had explored their fertility options and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in season six confirmed that Claire ended up using Frank’s frozen sperm to impregnate herself. In the final episode, a very pregnant Claire is also on the verge of a nuclear war she threatened in order to distract from the fact that many powerful people want her dead.
In the final scene, when Doug arrives at the Oval Office, Claire is finally convinced that he was the one who killed Frank. “I think she knows it wasn’t her, so then the next logical conclusion for her is definitely Doug,” Kelly told THR of the realization. Doug admits that Frank was coming to the White House to kill Claire after the events of the season five finale, and that he stopped Frank to “protect the legacy from the man” and a murder that his reputation could never bounce back from. Doug poisoned Frank, using his own medication, and Claire found Frank dead the next morning in his own bed.
“He walked into the Oval and that final showdown wanting the pardon for Frank,” Kelly explained of Doug’s motivations. He gave Claire the list of people who wanted her dead and, in turn, he wanted the pardon. But she said no. “Then at the end, he’s willing to settle for her just saying it out loud, that she’s nothing without him. And she won’t. Once she turns the letter opener on him, he doesn’t fight. He doesn’t try to live,” says Kelly of Doug surrendering and “releasing his demons.”
James Gibson said the final words that Claire spoke to Doug explain her motivations. “There. No more pain,” she told Doug as he bled out in her arms. The line is a callback to the beginning of the series, which opened with Frank explaining useful and useless pain when snapping the neck of an injured dog. “In the end, Claire is, to some degree, freeing Doug Stamper and looking at us in a full-circle way,” she said.
After Doug’s final breath, a bloody and messy Claire indeed looks at the camera with newfound, and perhaps crazed, resolve. In the end, she is the survivor. “One of the really fascinating questions is: Who is the biggest monster of them all?” James Gibson said of Claire winning, but not without cost.
Where does she go from here?
“Claire has been negotiating the whole season around who is going to partner with her,” Pugliese explained. “Ultimately, maybe there’s a realization that she has to do it all by herself. There’s an isolation that comes with that. So it’s a feeling that she’s both free and there’s a relief, but ultimately alone because of it.”
The showrunners ended on that Claire cliffhanger because of the show’s long-gestating relationship with the audience, who the pair said are “active participants” in where the story hypothetically goes.
“The finale itself is not really final until it’s played out with the audience,” Pugliese explained. “Whatever the audience imagines after is all part of the end of the show. And there are questions. No doubt about it. What story is going to tell? How is she going to get away with this? Now that she’s done with this last piece, will she really move on? But that’s left up to the audience and their imagination.”
One of the biggest surprises in store for Claire could be how motherhood impacts her. “Claire essentially weaponizing motherhood in a rather ruthless way. And then the great surprise is that she doesn’t feel what she expects to feel. It’s much more complicated,” James Gibson explained. And if you ask Kelly what his hopes are about the dangling threads Doug left for reporter Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) to discover, he says he hopes journalism wins.
“I think a lot of the audience will wonder, is Janine going to get Claire? And I think you can probably say that Claire’s not done,” Kelly says of the ending. “Is Janine going to have time to get that story out before she’s taken care of? Claire is not one to let things go by the wayside.” Still, he adds, as someone seeing the real politics in the current climate, he’s pulling for Janine to avenge Tom Hammerschmidt and all the other deaths “and do what she’s been wanting to do for the last six seasons and expose the Underwoods.”
In the end, the showrunners wanted to establish that Claire could be “every much of an antihero” as Frank ever was. That statement is reflective of a culture that is increasingly elevating women on screen with meaty and complicated roles. James Gibson says that when Claire killed her lover Tom Yates in season five, she cemented herself as an equal to her husband. “She proved her hands were just as bloody as his. They were equal — she even said that. What felt true to us is that she reveals herself to be every much of an antihero as Francis ever was. She’s allowed to be as complicated and surprising and dark and everything he ever was.”
The final season of House of Cards is streaming all eight episodes now on Netflix. Head here for all of THR’s final season coverage.
Robin Wright says she had a complete body transformation while preparing to take on the role of General Antiope in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.
The 51-year-old actress poses topless for the latest issue of The Edit, and in an interview with Garbage singer Shirley Manson, Wright reveals how she altered her training regime and diet in order to portray her fierce warrior character. “We would do horse riding for an hour, then drive from the stable to the studio and do weight training for an hour — heavy weights and short reps to build size quickly,” she explains. “We were trying to do 2-3,000 calories a day: raw oats in smoothies with avocado, whole milk and weight-gain powder, three times a day.”
MORE: Chris Pine Slams Superhero Diets, Reveals How He Bulked Up for Wonder Woman Movie
Wright admits that her co-stars’ workouts were even more strenuous. “I only got five weeks because I was on House of Cards and I didn’t do half of what the other girls did, because my body wouldn’t go there,” she notes. “So I kind of became Mama General: ‘Good girls, go, 15 more!’ We were doing horseback riding in the morning, learning how to canter with sheathes and arrows…”
While Wright has the highly anticipated fifth season of House of Cards coming out later this month on Netflix, as well as her upcoming roles in Wonder Woman and Blade Runner 2049, she tells the magazine that she’s “bored” with acting. “I only want to direct. I don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore,” she says. “I so appreciate , I’ve been doing it 30 years, but I love watching and helping other actors bring to fruition.”
MORE: House of Cards Releases Chilling Season 5 Trailer — ‘One Nation, Underwood’
The actress also talks about how she “never fame,” recalling when she once turned down a Vanity Fair cover because she was “so petrified of sharing myself.”
“I was married to Sean at the time, and I knew that all they wanted to know was what color underwear he wore,” she remembers. “It affected my career. If you don’t play the game, your notoriety doesn’t go up and then people won’t hire you.”
The Edit The Edit
Years later, Wright is passionate about fighting for equal pay for men and women, and says she is still paid less than her House of Cards co-star, Kevin Spacey. “I was told I was getting equal pay and I believed them, and I found out recently that it’s not true,” she claims. “Claire (Wright) and Francis (Spacey) are equivalent as far as their power, their union and the plot. I may not have as many scenes or words as Francis, but Claire doesn’t need to verbalize as much.”
EXCLUSIVE: Are House of Cards Francis and Claire Underwood Based on Bill and Hillary Clinton?
Also in the interview, Wright talks about helping daughter Dylan Penn prepare to audition for a TV show, and when ET caught up with the 26-year-old aspiring actress in November 2015, she revealed the best advice she has received from her famous parents.
“I think the one piece of general advice that they gave was just to never do something that felt off,” Dylan shared. “Never do something that felt false for me or else that’s going to show up on screen — which really helped me in the end.”
Hollywood star Robin Wright had her career beginnings in the 1980s. She first became known for starring as Kelly Capwell in the soap opera Santa Barbara. She later ventured to film, rising to fame for her starring role in the movie The Princess Bride. In the ’90s, she achieved further success as a movie star courtesy of her roles in the films Forrest Gump and Message in a Bottle. For her role in the former, she got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
During the following decade, she starred in the movies Unbreakable and State of Play. In the 2010s, she became widely known for starring as Claire Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards, earning her a Golden Globe for Best Actress and Primetime Emmy nominations. She’s also starred in the films The Conspirator, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Everest, Wonder Woman, and Blade Runner 2049.
The 52-year-old actress stays in shape by sticking to a healthy diet. She’s also one of the few actresses in Hollywood who’s managed to maintain a slender and a toned figure despite her age. Most of the time, she prefers eating natural and whole foods. She steers clear of processed food as much as possible. To prepare for her role in House of Cards, the actress admitted that she gave Paleo diet a try.
She said: “I’m trying to do the paleo diet. No carbs. I’ve got to get thin for the show.” This diet involves eating meat, fish, vegetables and fruit without the inclusion of dairy products and processed foods. She also made dietary adjustments when she prepared for her role in Wonder Woman. Playing a warrior, she knew she needed to look stronger. In an interview, she revealed: “We were trying to do 2-3,000 calories a day: raw oats in smoothies with avocado, whole milk and weight-gain powder, three times a day.”
Ellen Burstyn is a real mother on ‘House of Cards’
Why is Claire Underwood on “House of Cards” so awful? Ask her mother.
We meet Claire’s mother, Elizabeth Hale, when the first lady travels to her childhood home in Texas. Claire wants to big-foot her way into the election by way of a Congressional seat in a predominantly black district. That her mother is undergoing chemo is a minor inconvenience. She’s prepared to sell the house from under Elizabeth to finance her ambitions.
In one of the season’s best scenes, an obviously ailing Elizabeth rails at her impervious daughter. “Oh, you are such a disappointment,” she says, ripping off the turban she’s wearing, revealing a bald head. “I am the mother,” she screams. “I am the mother!”
Elizabeth is played by Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, whose casting is so perfect it makes you see how Claire turned into the elegant glacier she is today.
“I think she wasn’t loved properly,” Burstyn tells The Post. “There’s an indication that she was her father’s favorite. Mama was jealous and withheld. When someone grows up with mama’s love withheld, it’s hard to have a normal love flow.”
Burstyn, 83, had only seen Season 1 of “HOC,” but passersby in her Manhattan neighborhood chatted her up after they saw her in Episode 1. “I can’t walk my dog without people commenting on the show. I had no idea that it had that big a following,” she says.
She also had no idea that she’d worked before with “HOC” star Kevin Spacey, but he was quick to remind her. The occasion was a 1990 TV movie called “When You Remember Me,” co-starring Fred Savage, of all people. “Kevin played a lawyer and I was a nurse defending a boy in an orphanage,” she says.
Burstyn had never worked with Robin Wright, but attests that she shares some traits with the formidable Claire. “Robin is a very reserved person, but she’s not mean,” Burstyn says. “She’s very kind. She loves directing more than acting, and is very popular with the crew.”
Everyone knows Burstyn as the star of “The Exorcist,” but her TV career stretches back nearly 65 years to “The Jackie Gleason Show,” where she was a showgirl billed as Ellen McCrae (Burstyn was the last name of her second ex-husband, Neil). Besides loving Gleason, she terms it “one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Her own experiences as a series headliner left something to be desired. “The Ellen Burstyn Show,” in which she played a college professor, lasted one season on ABC in 1986. “It was not the right combination of people. It just did not come together, unfortunately,” she says.
Once she found her groove as a film actress in “The Last Picture Show,” the critics — and the Motion Picture Academy — heaped praise on the Detroit-born actress. In addition to her Oscar, for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” she has five other Oscar nominations, two Emmys and a Tony.
She admits to almost turning down one of her most remarkable roles — the drug-addicted Sara Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream” — because it was “too depressing,” but she’s proud that she took Francis Ford Coppola’s advice and agreed to the hiring of barely known Martin Scorsese to direct her in “Alice.”
“I asked him, ‘What do you know about women? Because this is going to be from a female point of view,’ ” Burstyn remembers. “He said, ‘Nothing, but I’d like to learn.’ I said, ‘Right answer.’
“I had no idea he would turn out to be one of the great directors of our time.”
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix
Spoilers ahead for House of Cards season six.
A high-five and hearty congrats to President Claire Underwood — oops, President Claire Hale — for that big surprise in the sixth episode of the final season of House of Cards. A pregnant POTUS? Even in a show known for its breakneck twists and turns, few saw that surprise coming.
Robin Wright delivers a delicious performance in “Chapter 71,” as Claire reveals to a stunned Doug (Michael Kelly) that she’s pregnant with an heir to the Underwood estate. “Francis and I have been blessed,” she says, placing Doug’s hand on her belly. It’s a shock of a twist, and it neatly solves the problem that’s been looming over Claire since Frank Underwood’s death: His will left everything to Doug, his most loyal subject … unless he had a descendant to inherit the loot instead. Claire’s pregnancy is the ticket to inherit everything that her late husband left behind.
But whose baby is it? Could Frank really be the father? How did that happen if he and Claire had been estranged for months before he died in the White House? And what about Tom Yates, who was literally poisoned to death while Claire had sex with him last season?
House of Cards showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson were amused by Vulture’s confusion. But they assured us — and we asked all of the writers on the show as well — that it is indeed Frank’s baby.
Here’s how it all happened: In the second episode of season six, Claire visits a female physician at her home office. That woman is Dr. Larson, the same fertility doctor that Claire consulted in the season-one finale when she was considering trying to get pregnant. Knowing that, Dr. Larson’s mysteriously vague line to Claire — “For this to happen at this point in your life, the prognosis is not so good” — makes a lot more sense. It wasn’t a terminal illness! It was Claire asking if she could still become a mommy.
But again, how exactly is it Frank’s baby?
“The notion is that during that fertility process , Francis had some sperm frozen,” Gibson told Vulture.
Okay, but why would a woman who’s had three abortions want a baby now? Isn’t she a little busy running the free world? “It’s tactical,” explains Gibson, who conceived the idea for the pregnant president. “She’s using it to gain power. She’s weaponizing motherhood.”
The tactic certainly works: Claire’s pregnancy helps her create the image of a softer presence in charge of the country — a “baby-bump president” who leads with tough love instead of an iron fist. But House of Cards ends before Claire gives birth, so we’ll just have to take the doctor’s word that it’s a girl.
“Chapter 40” was a very promising start to Season 4 of ‘House of Cards’, doing very well in its purpose to setting things what is to come and in making one dying to see more. It was a little unbalanced on the political and personal elements of the story, with a little too much of the latter, but a vast majority of what made ‘House of Cards’ such a great show in its prime was there in the episode.
This second episode “Chapter 41” is even better, as expected, building upon what was starting to be set up in the previous chapter and advancing it, like one sort of expects when a season moves forward rather than it feeling like filler. It further makes the newly introduced story elements and new characters interesting and has a better balance of political and personal, with more of a focus on the former rather than the personal lives dominating a little too much (a mistake with the previous episode).
It may slightly lack the tension and emotion of the very best episodes, but there is not really that much wrong here.
Visually, the slick style is here as is the class. The music is a good complement and the direction is alert, providing the necessary tension with Petrov, yet has breathing space in the necessary moments. The political elements here are sharp and have bite and edge, with Petrov managing to do the impossible in being more ruthless to a malevolent degree than Frank (and Frank is bloodthirsty-ruthless here), proving to be more than a match for him and Frank has to do a lot to come close to him. The more personal aspects don’t dominate and intrigue just as much, one of the best lines coming from Elizabeth when talking about Frank and summing him up perfectly. The dialogue reflects all of that, and do agree that Frank’s speech is incredible (some of his best writing in a while).
As for the acting, that’s on point too. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are dynamite as always, while Lars Mikkelsen relishes playing the increasingly malevolent Petrov and Ellen Burstyn again is a scene stealer, particularly fantastic in the scene where Claire threatens to sell the house.
Summing up, wonderful. 9/10
Some sort of rhyming is going on here, clearly, but does the poem mean anything? Frank Underwood, through a combination of guile, bloodshed, and weirdly good luck, was the master of the show’s universe for five seasons. He shared that power with his wife, but over time she yearned for a greater portion of it, and by the final season she’d taken his spot in the White House. Doug Stamper was Frank’s loyal attack animal throughout. But eventually he turned on his master and was put down by another.
Throughout Season 6, the question of how Frank died (off camera) remains a mystery, and Doug finally reveals the answer right before his demise: Denied a pardon by his wife, Frank snapped and set out to murder Claire, and Doug—deciding that such a murder would “destroy everything we built”—intervened by poisoning Frank with his own liver medication. Afterward, though, Doug seethed as Claire seemed to capitalize on her husband’s death. Hence the whole letter-opener showdown.
Read: ‘House of Cards’ is chillier than ever in its final season
Power kills personhood; betrayal begets betrayal; the seemingly meek but actually sinister shall inherit the Earth—pick your take-home message. As far as nutso pseudo-Shakespearean TV climaxes go, the final scene worked okay: Wright got to perform a ballet of humanity and ruthlessness, while Kelly got to drop Stamper’s mask for once. And as a jerry-rigged conclusion to a story derailed by outside scandal, perhaps Season 6 should be graded on a curve. But so many unanswered plot questions remain that the conclusion feels cruel to viewers. By overtly calling back to the dawn of this show, the creators force the judgment that the greatest tragedy of House of Cards was its own incoherence.
The show had big flaws all along: migraine-inducing implausibility, emotional frostbite, a sense that episodes were padded to fit an hour’s length, Spacey’s dicey accent, and more. But the first season set the internet buzzing, and not just because of the novelty of seeing a slick, star-led drama on Netflix rather than on HBO. As the shape of the Underwoods’ relationship became clear—here were fire and ice destroying for the same goal—the story imparted the satisfying feeling of dominoes falling. When the troubled but soulful congressman Peter Russo met his end at Frank’s hands, it was like the completion of the prophecy foretold in that first scene with the dog. The rest of the show would ground its suspense on the presumed inevitability of Frank’s eventual comeuppance.
The season-after-season wait for that comeuppance was rarely as thrilling as it might have been, but viewers came to understand that even when the plot didn’t add up—when it got lost in a stew of current-events buzzwords—it could still sometimes serve up a sensory jolt. Like the murder of Zoe Barnes. Or the ridiculous but fun saga of Frank getting shot in Season 4. Or the Underwoods’ pointless threesome with the Secret Service agent Edward Meechum.
How Did Frank Underwood Really Die In ‘House Of Cards’ Season 6? It Was Shakespearean, To Say The Least
Spoilers for the series finale of House Of Cards. It’s hard to imagine that anyone in the world of House Of Cards believed for a second that Frank Underwood had died of natural causes. The final season of House Of Cards drops hints about how Frank Underwood died between Season 5 and Season 6, and it seems that the official narrative is that Frank simply died in bed as a result of some kind of medical issue. There’s no talk of assassination or any parties who may have wanted the former president dead, but it’s clear that Claire knows more about Francis’ death than she’s letting on. It’s not revealed until the final scene of the final episode of House of Cards that Frank Underwood was killed by someone who had been working with him since the show’s very first season.
The original version of Season 6 likely wouldn’t have killed Frank Underwood. But, as the show’s former star Kevin Spacey was removed from the series following at least 15 allegations ranging from sexual harassment to rape and assault, according to a 2017 story by USA Today. Netflix cut ties with Spacey in November of 2017, leaving the final season of House Of Cards without their central character. While the show may have not intended to kill off Frank, the manner in which they ended the character’s life was appropriately melodramatic for a show that often featured dramatic stakes that could rival Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies.
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During a heated confrontation in Claire Underwood’s office, Doug Stamper argues about the importance of maintaining the legacy of Frank Underwood. Doug Stamper dedicated his whole life to building up the legend of Frank Underwood, so much so that he killed the man behind it when it seemed as though that man may jeopardize the legend. As Doug reveals, one night Frank Underwood has begun storming towards Claire’s bed with intent on killing her. Instead of watching the man he dedicated his life to become America’s most notorious murderer, Doug force-fed Frank too much of his own medication, triggering an overdose.
With Frank Underwood dead, no longer at risk of blowing his own cover by continuing to anonymously reveal whose deaths he’s directly responsible for to journalists, the legacy of Frank Underwood as a man who fought conflict and did his best for the United States Of America could live on long past the man himself. However, when Claire drives Frank’s old letter opener into Doug Stamper’s chest, she kills the only person who had any interest in letting Frank Underwood be remembered as a good man.
With both men dead, Claire Underwood is solely responsible for how the world and the history books will remember her ex husband’s legacy. That is, if she doesn’t end up sending the nukes she was threatening the world with earlier that episode and bringing about the end of civilization as we know it. Then again, if Claire does bring about the end of the world, then the world will end the way Frank wanted it to end, at least — with an Underwood in the White House.
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The new season of House of Cards is going to feel different from earlier seasons. After star Kevin Spacey was accused of multiple sexual assaults, Netflix halted production on the series and let the actor go. Co-star Robin Wright intervened to secure a sixth and final season — one that would focus on her character Claire Underwood’s time as President of the United States. An early trailer confirmed that Spacey’s character Frank Underwood would be killed off.
Which begs the question…exactly how will Frank Underwood be killed off? Would the showrunners handle it offscreen? Would it be a natural death? Or a violent comeuppance? Since the review embargo on House of Cards‘ sixth season has finally lifted, we can finally share some spoiler-y answers.
How Does Frank Underwood Die on House of Cards?
That’s the big question, right? When the sixth season opens, Frank is already dead. It is noted that he died in his sleep next to Claire, however, there’s a twist…
Since Claire and Frank actually had different bedrooms, he died in his bed. She was in her room at the time of death. Many characters suggest that Claire had Frank killed, while Claire tells the audience in her to-camera monologues that she believes Frank was killed by powerful people who wanted him out of their way. The implication is the killers were one or all of the Shepherds, a powerful family that influences politics from behind-the-scenes. However, this could also be untrue as Claire may be an unreliable narrator.
In fact, Frank’s death is one of the key mysteries that propels the whole season. Who is really in control? And to what lengths will people go to secure that power?
Who Are The Shepherds on House of Cards?
House of Cards Season 6 introduces a trio of political power players known as the Shepherds. Greg Kinnear plays Bill Shepherd, Diane Lane is his sister Annette, and Cody Fern is Annette’s son Duncan. The Shepherds are puppet master superdonors in the mold of the Mercer family. It turns out that Annette and Claire are also old high school friends.
Does Frank Underwood Appear in House of Cards Season 6?
Frank Underwood does not physically appear in the House of Cards Season 6 episodes we sampled. That said, his presence lingers over the story like a ghost. He’s brought up a bunch and his spirit almost seems to haunt Claire in earlier scenes.
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For one, activities outside this narrow pursuit ended. She had no life outside the White House and no hobbies, job or interests. The man she loved, and to whom she confessed her deepest secrets, she knocked off. No friends came to dinner and there was no laughing or crying, and she no longer sweated in front of an open freezer. She never left the White House itself – except to murder. Although she was large and in charge, her world had narrowed. In many ways, she was weaker: isolated, friendless, loverless, and dependent on two people with their own political agendas. She was therefore more vulnerable to the vagaries of politics and less secure in her position and status.
It’s a complex transformation. On the one hand, she had everything that she -and many many people- wanted. She was someone many people wanted to be. On the other hand, she suffered as a result and lived a life few of us would necessarily choose. How best to show us the contradictions of this transformation? What best symbolizes her new power but also the price she has paid for it?
It changed to reflect her new reality. Her business suits went from functional to fetish. Her shoes became a tottering 5 inches that she never took off, regardless of the pile on the carpet or the hour of the night. She could walk, but only cautiously and after only a few steps, only with pain. Her tops were so skin tight that if she had an olive for lunch we could see the bump, and her skirts so narrow she was as hobbled as a cowboy’s horse. Check out her inauguration gown as the first elected female Vice President of the United States, her only elected position ever. Like all her clothing, it was a gorgeous creation that looked stunning on her. This off-the-shoulder white gown with a very short train granted her (like all floor-length white gowns) a touch of innocence. Yet it was so tight around the knees that she could barely walk in it and had to take baby steps. The single most powerful woman in the United States unable to freely move. That might have been a statement about the nature of power except that the elected President strode in wearing his dinner suit. So it was not a statement about the nature of power but a statement about her power in particular. As she went up the ladder she became less capable and more constrained, less able to manoeuver and more helpless.
But it’s more than that. The more powerful she became, the more eroticized her outfits. This was not an eroticism of soft pleasures, of languid afternoons sliding into sultry evenings. Nor was it an eroticism of fecund biology yearning for procreation. Instead, it was an eroticism of discipline, intervention, discomfort, coldness and control. Her heels must have hurt. They simply must have. Her figure, frequently outlined, was no longer within normal parameters. Her breasts had increased in size and were overly large for her thin frame, her waist was cinched in with belts, and her rounded bottom was clearly visible through the material. The clothing went up to the neck, down to the wrists, and at least below the knees. When skin was exposed, it was always her shoulders with her jutting collarbones, hard and unyielding, her jaw angled above. In case we missed the point, big brass buttons and regimental stripes announced the militarism. This was high fashion flirting with bondage.
As her reality became more extreme, her clothes became so too. As she achieved a status that no female before ever had, she looked less and less like a woman and more and more like a cartoon cut out of one. As the hunger for power consumed her, it also consumed her healthy clothes until she wore shoes that damaged her health. As she became more and more powerful in the hidden world of politics, we saw someone become literally more powerless.
This presentation was not accidental. It was a well-thought out strategy to show her character using a non-verbal language. Her reality’s been well told, just not with words.
Spotify made jogging playlists for House of Cards’ Frank and Claire Underwood
“Have you ever wondered what music Frank and Claire Underwood are listening to on one of their famed runs in Netflix’s House of Cards?”
This question came in an email my colleague received this morning from a third-party PR agency representing Spotify. It’s an interesting question! Yes, I have wondered this, actually, and I don’t take any issue with the agency’s hyperbole in describing Claire and Frank’s exercise outings as “famed.” This weekend, I jogged to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. When I recalled the third episode of season 1 of House of Cards, I panicked, anticipating being screamed at by an elderly woman in a North Face vest. These runs are famous, at least with me personally.
If you’ve also asked yourself, “What are they listening to during those famous runs?” there’s good news: “Spotify has the answer,” according to The Outcast Agency PR. “Are Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden and Queen some of the artists that drive Frank’s ruthlessness and ambition? And how do Beyoncé, Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones inspire Claire’s razor-sharp and strong-willed personality?”
I don’t know how a personality can be “razor-sharp,” but I am curious. With that idle curiosity apparently in mind, Spotify has released running playlists for Claire and Frank. This is one of the lamest PR stunts I have ever seen, but it’s fun to try to deduce something about the brain of whoever watched House of Cards (season 5, now on Netflix!) and felt they had firm grasps on the characters’ musical psyches.
For the most part, whoever it is does have some idea about the listening behaviors of middle-aged white people. I can imagine my parents listening to the majority of the songs on both of these playlists. It is funny and true that Frank would listen to this much Kenny Loggins, and I like the inclusion of “Born in the U.S.A.,” which has long been a source of confusion for politicians who are too narcissistic to recognize satire.
However, I’m sorry to say, some of the inclusions are positively bonkers. For example, Frank’s playlist includes ABBA’s “The Winner Takes it All,” which is really very sad, and not about winning (or exercise). It also includes an aggressively xenophobic and violent song by Toby Keith, famed headliner of the 2017 presidential inauguration, and about as unlikely a supporter of Democratic president Frank Underwood as you can find.
Claire’s playlist is better. She’s a classic example of a politician who uses feminism as part of her personal brand, but would actually throw absolutely anyone’s rights in front of a truck. (“I’m willing to let your child wither and die inside of you” is still one of the scariest lines ever uttered on TV.) Therefore, it makes sense that the only Beyoncé songs she would know are “Run the World (Girls)” and “Single Ladies,” and that she would get amped up by the saccharine Pepsi commercial “We Are The World.”
I like that the version of “Stuck in the Middle With You” chosen for this playlist is the version from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, which as a reference, leaves very little to the imagination: Claire is a murderous sociopath, or at least she is interested in torture. Very cool. Though, as for the inclusion of Christina Aguilera’s version of “Lady Marmalade,” I don’t really buy the idea that Claire would’ve seen Moulin Rouge!, even as a guilty-pleasure film. Maybe Jawbreaker.
Anyway, these promo playlists are a good idea, as promo ideas go. The only tunes that make it onto a playlist that you use to work out are tunes that actually psych you up. Nobody postures on a workout playlist. Nobody thinks “I’m about to go work out, time to suffer through a Tame Impala record.” That’s why my workout playlist is just Jesse McCartney’s 2008 hit “Leavin’” on a loop, and before that it was the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Parade. It’s true, a person’s jogging playlist tells you a lot about them, and this is a fun way to do emotional cosplay (brain role-play?) as a TV character, if that’s something you would ever want to do.
Please release jogging playlists for the constantly jogging women of Big Little Lies. Also, while we’re at it, Mrs. Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights! Thanks, anonymous curator.