House of Cards' Alan Cooke, played by Shawn Doyle

‘House Of Cards’ Features Newfoundland Actor

House of Cards, the Netflix original political drama that made history when it became the first online series to be awarded three Emmy awards, released its third season on Friday, February 27. Though no viewership stats are available (Netflix doesn’t release them), House of Cards has become a bona fide favorite, particularly among binge watchers.

With the third season of House of Cards came a host of new characters, each of whom – willing or not – becomes as a key concomitant in the conniving, backstabbing and sociopathic strategizing that is American politics.

One House of Cards’ new characters is Dr. Alan Cooke, a cardiovascular surgeon whom Assistant Minority Whip Jackie Sharp marries, partly to pander to voting mothers (Cooke has two kids and Sharp has none).

Many recognized Dr. Cooke from popular TV shows like Desperate Housewives and 24 in which he has appeared in regular roles.

But those in Wabush, Newfoundland, and Labrador know him as local native, and number one export, Shawn Doyle.

Shawn Doyle was born in 1968 in Wabush, a mining town in Labrador with a population of about 22,000 (current population is less than 2,000). The son of actor-director Jerry Doyle (Babylon 5), Shawn cut his acting chops at a local theatre company his dad founded when Shawn was young.

Speaking to Canadian Family, Doyle says a role on House of Cards would have been an impossible dream had it not been for his father’s thespian entrepreneurialism.

“It feels like a gift to have been exposed to the arts in a small mining town,” Doyle said. “It showed me there were other things I could do in life than what was expected.”

Doyle would leave his native Wabush to study at York University in Toronto, graduating in 1991 with a BFA in Theatre. Before joining House of Cards, Doyle had regular roles in major television productions, most recently on Vegas, Hannibal, Covert Affairs and Fargo.

Speaking to CBC, Doyle says he was thrilled, and a little bummed, to be tapped for a role in House of Cards.

“It’s kind of bittersweet because it’s really exciting to be invited into that cast, and working for writers like that, and the quality of production and whatnot — but it also kind of taints it, because it’s not as fun to watch,” he told the CBC program Here and Now.

Doyle’s isn’t the only Canadian blood on House of Cards. Ironically, his onscreen wife, Jackie Sharp, is played by Molly Parker, originally from Pitt Meadows, BC.

[Photo Credit: Eric Milner]

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