or House of Cards super fans, it’s been an epic saga to watch as corrupt politician Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) rose to become U.S. president over the past seasons of the Netflix drama. But a percolating plot, that of actor Boris McGiver, a veteran film and TV actor who plays Tom Hammerschmidt, the feisty (and last) journalist standing in the quest to take down Underwood once and for all, is just as compelling. Today marks the premiere of the season five return of the hit Washington, D.C.-focused show and McGiver’s character will delve even more deeply into his investigation of the corrupt Underwood, turning and tightening the screws as only the tough journalist in ‘Hammer’ can. He may even do things he wouldn’t have done in the past to get a scoop. Parade sat down with McGiver, the son of late actor John McGiver, best-known for his iconic roles in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Manchurian Candidate and Midnight Cowboy, who says fans have lots to look forward to in this action-packed series.
I think this is going to be Tom’s season.
Absolutely. I have a lot do with this season. I turn some screws in this one. In my investigations I skewer people a little bit tighter to the wall and make them answer questions. My investigation goes much deeper than before.
What have you loved the most about the show?
The writing remains so good. Whenever we would do a read-through—and we flew down to Baltimore to do that for every episode—it just read off the page. My addition to the writing and storyline was to bring humanity to Tom. I thought often of my dad who was an extremely erudite guy. He was super well-read and he almost had a photographic memory. He was always reading, questioning and querying. He was very thoughtful. Thinking about him helped connect me with the character very quickly.
A lot of people have said that art is imitating life with this show.
There is a life imitating art thing. It’s hard to figure out what’s what. You get even more of that this season and it’s phenomenal to see. It’s as if these writers are like seers. They’re connected to the zeitgeist and I’ve never known a show to be like this, especially what’s being talked about and the possibilities of horror that this season brings up.
Your character is such an old-school journalist.
I think Tom was always excited about journalism. The other writers in the show who played journalists really held out this hope that journalism and the truth would win. And truth still will. There’s an excitement on set about this, that journalists want to get to the truth and even hammer home the idea that even if you’re going to be body-slammed you have to seek out the truth. That’s what Tom is all about.
Is House of Cards darker than what’s happening in real life or vice versa?
There are some dark aspects of the show. People get murdered, dogs get strangled, careers get destroyed in one sentence. There’s a lot of greed and power hungry stuff. Is that darker than reality? I think on the surface it might seem so but when you investigate reality, if you look at Putin’s regime, Assad’s regime, the regimes in Africa, Iran in so many places—is it darker? I’m not sure.
What’s the best part of working on a Netflix show?
The respect for us as artists. Even the day players who come in are treated with respect. It doesn’t take a lot to respect artists but if you check in and say ‘what do you need,’ that makes us want to do so much more. It’s the small things. It’s not like we’re treated like kings and queens, but we’re respected. I love them for that.
Do you ever worry that your character will get killed off?
I keep thinking ‘here comes the subway train scene where I’m going to get wiped out.’ I don’t know until I get my scripts if I’m going to be killed off or not. I keep hoping I won’t get killed! But, with the Underwoods and their cronies, you don’t know. At that same time, that’s exciting. I take nothing for granted. I’m happy to be a working actor and I’m glad that Tom is trying to shove the truth back to those in power. I love that about him just as I hope that this search for truth will never ever disappear.