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Reg E. Cathey is one of Hollywood’s unsung heroes.  With a career spanning three decades, the gravelly voiced thespian has worked with directing luminaries like David Fincher (“Se7en”) and David Simon (HBO’s “The Corner”) while deftly balancing a career between movies, television and theater.

Cathey’s talents landed him a spot on the groundbreaking dramatic series “House of Cards,” Netflix’s foray into original programming.  Starring Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” charts the rise of Senate Majority Whip Frank Underwood who schemes and (kills) his way to the White House.  Cathey plays Freddy, who owns the best bbq joint in the Capitol and serves as a confidante of sorts to Frank.

The Urban Daily caught up with the busy actor to get his take on the jaw-dropping second season of “House of Cards,”  his upcoming role as boxing promoter Don King (“Hands of Stone”) and how he handled casting directors  questioning  his “Blackness.”

(Warning: Season 2 spoilers ahead!) 

TUD: Congrats on another season of “House of Cards”! Did you have any idea that the show would be so successful?

Reg E. Cathey:  From my first meeting with Beau (Willimon) and David (Fincher) I knew this was going to be something special.  When we all sat down to do our first read through, we all talked about how this show could never be on network television because the cast had so many old people!

This season your character arc was expanded, particularly in Episode 9. Sometimes I felt like I was watching “The Corner” or “The Wire”-  it felt so authentic.

It’s funny you said that because a lot of the crew from “House of Cards,” I knew and worked with on those two shows.  Some of the people in the neighborhood would come out and tell me they remembered me, so it’s been really interesting.

Has the reception from the people in the neighborhood been mostly positive or negative?

It’s been great. Funny story about Jodie Foster, who directed this episode.  We were shooting in this tiny project building and it was really hot that day, so Jodie was sitting under a tree by herself  while we were setting up.  This little kid, a baby, waddled over to her and people saw this white woman under a tree with a baby. So before long there were 30 people under the tree with this Oscar winning actress and a baby, watching us set up and for Jodi it was just a regular Tuesday.

How did you find working with Jodie as a director?

She has this ability just to say exactly what you need to hear without going into too much discussion.  She does it in a way where she’ll ask a question.  How do you feel about this, and what made me think about this…and it’s just perfect.  Also, I had gone to the Yale School of Drama while she was a student at Yale so we knew a lot of the same people, so that was fun.

In this episode, there were a few N-bombs dropped – was there ever a concern or discussion for political correctness or was it more being true to these characters and the artistic vision?

It was about being true to the character. Beau is so smart and hands-on, he’s always around and asking questions.  It was completely organic and natural, it wasn’t even a big deal.


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