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5 Questions: Chatting House of Cards, Molly Parker, and The Hunger Games with Mahershala Ali

Since Netflix Canada released season three of their wildly successful series House of Cards, we’ve been patiently waiting for fellow fans to watch the entire season so we can dissect every episode. Thanks to the fine folks at Netflix Canada, we were given the opportunity to speak via conference call to talented actor Mahershala Ali, who plays Remy Danton on the drama. He gushed about acting alongside Canadian treasure Molly Parker, his character arc on the latest season, and his very different part in the Hunger Games film franchise.

Scene Creek: Not necessarily in this season, because I don’t want to give too much away to our readers, but in the history of the show, what was your favorite scene to shoot, and why?

Mahershala: That’s a good question. I enjoyed most working with Molly Parker. I think I could really choose any number of scenes that we’ve had an opportunity to work on together, but we have a couple of really nice moments this season. I probably most enjoyed working with her on one of the scenes where there’s something that happens to Remy, and he goes to, kind of to vent and talk to Jackie about what just happened. I just enjoyed working on that team; Robin (Wright) was directing. Molly is just so supportive and just wonderful as an actor. So anything that we get to do together, but probably especially acting.

Scene Creek: Considering where Remy started in the show, did you really know how long he’d be around or has the series been a surprise for you?

Mahershala: I think, for the most part, it’s a surprise probably for everyone outside of Kevin (Spacey) and Robin (Wright) because they are the most important figures of the show; they’re the anchors. You just take it season to season and then you take it episode by episode and see how the story is laying out, what they’re writing for you and just grateful that you’re around for, however, long you’re around.

Scene Creek: Can you talk a little about Remy and Frank’s relationship this season because obviously that’s a bit of a tease, almost, of what this season is about?

Mahershala: I think that there is at a certain point, some fairly obvious tension between the two. Remy does make a comment about not ever really being welcomed into the inner circle, and I think that that particular moment is really revealing about his experience in working with Frank in this capacity. So, yes. There’s definitely some moments there where they’re not absolutely in alignment, and I think that we see that at times throughout the season.

Scene Creek: Can you talk a little bit about playing Boggs (in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2) because that’s a pretty cool opportunity as well and quite a different role, obviously, for you to play. It must be a fun ride.

Mahershala: It was great. It was a great group of folks, which is what I really took away from that whole experience. It’s always been pretty wonderful to be a part of a huge franchise like that. I think House of Cards, for the medium that House of Cards is in, it’s probably equally as big. But it was just great being a part of that cast and being a small part of telling that story as well. I’m kind of looking forward to part two.

You’d be surprised that when you do a big action film, how you watch it and how you experience it as an audience is very different from how it’s filmed. Because those films can be so action driven, that on the other side of that, they actually are shot in a way that’s really slow and safe. It has to be taken moment by moment in order for it to all edit and piece together in a way that feels really dynamic and moves forward with a lot of pace and energy.

It’s a very different kind of work. I think House of Cards is very cerebral, and something like The Hunger Games is more physical but it takes a lot more time to do it. It’s just different. I enjoy it all, honestly, but it’s just very different.

Scene Creek: For someone who hadn’t watched House of Cards at all before, how would you best convince them to watch it?

Mahershala: I would just tell them that it’s a great show, and they’re missing out. It’s a global hit, and there’s just some phenomenal talent on that show. It’s really well cast, and the writing and direction are terrific. If they love great drama, I’d definitely feel like House of Cards is just that.

Seasons 1 to 3 of House of Cards are currently streaming on Netflix Canada.

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.