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Kim Dickens Makes Waves on “House of Cards”

The actress on her role as Frank Underwood’s latest enemy

As Detective Rhonda Boney in Gone Girl, Kim Dickens portrayed the moral compass amid the twists and turns of a messy murder investigation. In her role as White House reporter Kate Baldwin in the latest season of Netflix’s juggernaut House of Cards, Dickens tackles the same kind of truth telling. Her Baldwin is a seemingly fearless critic of the crooked (and criminal) President Underwood, and serves to remind the audience that the man in the Oval Office isn’t a good guy—no matter how much fun it is to watch him be bad. 

Catching up with DuJour just days after the third season of Cards was released—and greedily binge-watched, at least by some reporters—Dickens explains how she went from fan to fan favorite on the series, why the Underwoods are nothing to be afraid of and how a series about politics prepared her for one about zombies.

The third season was recently released and conversation about the show seems impossible to escape. Do you feel that same thing as a cast member? 

I’ve been getting a lot of that. It’s exciting but it’s also like yikes because I showed up in someone’s favorite show. I don’t want to disappoint anybody, because it’s also my favorite show.

How did you go from fan to cast member?

Laray Mayfield cast me this winter in Gone Girl, and she also works onHouse of Cards. So, after Gone Girl, this role came up and they discussed me and I got a phone call. I talked Beau Willomon about the character, and then I was sold.

Your character, Kate Baldwin, shows up mid-season and doesn’t buy into what Kevin Spacey’s president has to offer. She’s a real thorn in his side. I can imagine that’s an easy character to want to play.   

Like I said, it was my favorite show, so my first instinct was to say, “I’ll do whatever!” But when you get inside the character, she’s so smart and fearless. She does that rare thing of pursuing the truth with nothing to lose. The other thing that was appealing to me was her public persona: There was going to be a private side, too, and more intimate relationships. Once I accepted it, I was terrified. I was going to be on this show that’s sort of intimidating and working with Kevin Spacey playing Frank Underwood; he’s so scary and powerful. But it ended up being a great experience.

Being a fan, it must be easy at first to see your co-stars as their characters.  

They’re such powerful, charismatic, dangerous characters. And when you meet Robyn [Wright] and Kevin, they are very charismatic, but they are also very poised and beautiful—and thankfully much less murderous in person. 

Did you have any real White House correspondents in mind when you were creating Kate?

It happened pretty quickly, and I just sort of trusted Beau Willimon. That’s what’s so great about Beau, he’s an amazing writer and is so rigorous about stories and characters. I didn’t have a lot of time to sort of roam around and figure out the city.

You’ve got another badass role coming up: the Walking Deadcompanion series.  From politicians to zombies… You can’t catch a break.

At first I didn’t know if I’d be right for the genre, but when it came around, I kind of fell in love with the character. I couldn’t have had more fun; I embraced the genre pretty quickly because it was fun to be this kick-ass character.

What was your most action hero moment?

I can’t talk about any specifics, but apparently there are more zombies that need to be killed!

Main photograph shot by David Giesbrecht for Netflix