If “House of Cards” creator and showrunner Beau Willimon is getting used to awards recognition by now, he certainly isn’t letting on. On Thursday, the New Yorker was in a hotel room in Century City when he got the news that the political drama had racked up an impressive four Golden Globe nominations, including one for best TV drama, the biggest haul for any series this year. (It tied with the HBO biopic “Behind the Candelabra” for overall nominations.) As at the Emmys, leads Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey both received nods for playing two halves of a ruthless Washington, D.C., power couple.
But for Willimon, the pleasant surprise of the day came in the form of a nomination for Corey Stoll for his turn as a hapless Congressman with a host of chemical dependency issues. We checked in with Willimon, who’s toiling away with post-production on Season 2, premiering on Valentine’s Day, to see how he was handling the news.
How are you feeling this morning?
I’m feeling great. I’m halfway through my massive coffee so my brain is starting to work and it’s just finally sinking in. I got off the phone with my parents just a little bit ago. They were thrilled. I couldn’t be happier for Kevin or Robin or especially Corey, who got some love this time around. The whole reason all of us get up in the morning is so we can point cameras at actors so they can do interesting things. They really brought it in Season 1, and Season 2 too. But yeah, it’s so awesome.
Did you wake up to watch the nominations?
It’s like an ungodly hour to wake up and if we were so lucky, I didn’t want to be woken up by my phone jangling. It’s kind of an abrasive sound. But I had a strategy. I left all the curtains open and I figured when the sun rose, it would make its way across my face and I’d wake up in a more holistic way, I guess, and then I would check my phone. And if we were lucky, great, and if not, at least the sun was shining on my face. You never really have any expectations about these things. You always have high hopes, but this definitely surpassed any expectations I had.
And it’s especially sweet to see Corey get a nomination?
Absolutely. I thought to myself in Season 1 his character was never meant to run for governor, that was another character altogether. In the first couple of episodes, when we were shooting those, it was so clear how amazing Corey was and what he brought to the show, especially when he was in the same frame with Kevin. I thought to myself, “We’ve got to ... get this guy onscreen more,” so we shifted that whole storyline toward his character and I’m so glad we did because every moment he’s in the frame it elevated the show. I guess a year into it now I can afford to put a few spoilers out there. The plan had always been for him to meet his demise, and as we got closer and closer to that, it was tougher and tougher because he’s such an extraordinary talent. We stuck to our guns and I’m glad we did because it’s so heart-wrenching, and it takes a great actor to make it so heart-wrenching. He was a huge asset and big part of any success we’ve enjoyed.
“House of Cards” got a lot of recognition at the Emmys this year. Is it still exciting to get more?
What’s been cool about all of this, whether it’s the Emmys or the Golden Globes, and we’ve been privileged enough to get nominated by the [Producers Guild of America] and the [Writers Guild of America], this was a grand experiment to put a show of this size and scope online and to deliver it in a way that no one has before. We initially didn’t know we’d be eligible for anything and then to get the attention we have was icing on top of icing. It means a lot when your peers invite you to the dinner table and say you’re part of the club. There’s no greater recognition you can get than your peers and the critics and the press who cover this stuff for a living.
What can you tell us about Season 2?
I wish I could tell you but I have a blanket policy I don’t talk about anything story-related for Season 2. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. The most I can say is that you’ll see Francis and Claire continue their ruthless rise to power.
It doesn’t look like Claire has quit smoking yet. Can you at least tell us that with certainty?
We put out that teaser for a reason. First of all, you can never go wrong putting the camera on Robin Wright. Second of all, I guess what we were implying by that was if Claire Underwood was one of the reasons you loved Season 1, you’re going to love Season 2 just as much or even more because you learn a lot more about her and the Underwood marriage is really front and center.