House of Cards renewed for Season 5, despite showrunner departure
Staff Reporter | On 28, Jan 2016
House of Cards has been renewed for a fifth season – but without one of its key players.
The drama has become something of a flagship for Netflix since its first season in 2013, which was also the first Netflix original show to be released all-at-once on the site. Cards promptly picked up nine Primetime Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe nominations, taking home the Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama, the first acting award to go to a web series.
David Fincher being at the helm for the show’s beginning added to its prestigious, modern feel, but just as key to the series’ daunting complexity and devilishly smart update of Andrew Davies’ British show, upon which it was based, has been writer Beau Willimon. The showrunner of the series created House of Cards for Netflix after penning the Oscar-nominated script for political thriller The Ides of March.
Now, as House of Cards’ fourth season prepares to premiere on Netflix around the world in March, the streaming giant has renewed the show for another season – placing the programme among the select few Netflix original series to be commissioned for a new season before the release of the latest one. The move comes as a slight surprise, as Season 4’s release this year, with its fortuitous timing alongside the 2016 US Presidential elections, seemed like a natural place to conclude the tale of Kevin Spacey’s scheming politician Frank Underwood.
While Underwood will presumably return for a fifth outing, though, Willimon will not – the showrunner will depart the series after this season.
“Netflix and MRC owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Beau Willimon for his strong narrative vision for House of Cards over the show’s first four seasons. As an Academy Award nominated writer, he made his first foray into television and built a riveting and critically acclaimed series, establishing his place in TV history. The producers, cast and crew join us in wishing Beau the best in his next creative adventure,” Netflix said in a statement.
Who will take over from Willimon is not yet clear, although the writer with the most episodes to their name (apart from Beau) is John Mankiewicz, who has written four episodes and co-exec produced 26 of them. Alongside Fincher, Spacey and Davies, meanwhile, the show’s exec producers include Joshua Donen, Eric Roth, Dana Brunetti and Michael Dobbs, the author of the original books upon which the British show was based.
As for what Willimon’s next project will be, a “well placed source” tells The Hollywood Reporter that he is now focused on writing an original play. Beau himself only offered this clue last year:
— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) September 26, 2015
Curiously, the writer’s decision to leave follows a string of similar departures on other Netflix original projects. True Blood’s Mark Hudis departed Netflix’s adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events earlier this year, while Narcos showrunner Adam Fierro departed just before Christmas, ahead of the show’s second season.
House of Cards Season 4 premieres on Friday 4th March. For more on that, click here.