KPU director spends summer with Frank Underwood as “House of Cards” extra
Josh Paunil | 11/14/13 5:11am
[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in our print edition on October 25.]
Chandler Thornton was on his lunch break sitting under a large tent at a picnic table in July when Kevin Spacey suddenly sat down across from him.
“I was shocked,” the SPA junior said. “It was my first day and I couldn’t believe it. It was really cool.”
But that ended up being the norm for Thornton, who worked as a production assistant on “House of Cards” this summer in Joppa, Maryland. During that conversation with Spacey, Thornton discussed Maryland politics with one of the show’s stars and executive producers.
“He’s actually really knowledgeable about politics on the Maryland level even though he has no connection to Maryland,” Thornton said. “Not only is he an exceptional actor, but he is someone who really understands the inner workings of the political system we have in this country.”
The junior Political Science major and Communication minor first learned about the opportunity through an email from AU’s School of Communication. The message didn’t mention details, but it said filming would be in the Baltimore area.
Thornton was already staying in D.C. over the summer and immediately contacted the talent agency, which was contracted by the production company Netflix created for the show.
“I’m a huge fan of the show and like many people, I watched it very quickly so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of the show that I love,” he said.
Part of the reason Thornton got the job was because the agency admired his love for “House of Cards.” He worked on the show as an extra and a stand-in, which required him to work some long days including several lasting up to 12 hours.
“There were times when they needed to practice the line and see what it looked like on the shot for the main characters of the show,” he said. “That was a pretty cool experience to say that you said the same lines that someone like Frank Underwood would say on the show.”
When Thornton arrived on set in the mornings, he went into the holding room to talk to the casting agency. They’d coordinate with the wardrobe workers and sometimes told him to bring a certain outfit. He then had to do paperwork and read the script for the day.
The “House of Cards” job marked the first time Thornton has been an extra. Thornton, who is also the Director of the Kennedy Political Union, is now eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild.
“The coolest part of it all was meeting the people that make the show,” he said. “It was eye-opening to me because it was a political drama and I love politics but regardless of the show itself, it’s so cool to see how many hands are involved in the production of the show.”
Thornton couldn’t disclose many of the details of his involvement because of a non-disclosure agreement he had to sign, but he did indicate that he may see some screen time when the second season premieres in the spring.
“It’s hard to say what they’ve done with the edits but I believe there’s one scene in particular where you’d probably be able to see my face,” he said. “I’ll probably be able to notice if I see myself as a blurred figure walking in the background because I remember the shot being taken but we’ll just have to wait and see. It will be exciting for all of us.”