- Phylecia Wilson | Gwinnett Citizen
Brookwood grad Michael Kelly’s acting career surging forward
With two major movies showing last summer and a current TV hit, 1989 Brookwood High School grad, Michael Kelly’s career as an actor continues to surge forward and upward.
To back that up, he had his first experience on the red carpet at the Emmys last month when House of Cards, in which he plays a major role, was nominated for 10 different awards. The series took home three awards, including Outstanding Director and Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.
“It was so amazing to be invited to the Emmys and to the parties afterward,” Kelly beamed. “So many of my peers came up to me and told me how much they loved the show and how well I did.
“It was great to be admired by people you admire.”
Kelly said it was a full weekend of events in LA with meetings, night before parties and the big event itself. When it was time to go back, Spacey and the lead actress Robin Wright asked him if he wanted to jet back with them so they could get to New York early to start work on Monday.
On top of it all, Kelly’s wife Karyn Mendel was one of the most attractive women and most exquisitely dressed on the red carpet. “I was so proud of her,” Kelly said. “She did her clothes on her own, unlike the actresses on the show, and looked gorgeous!” Kelly plays Doug Stamper, Kevin Spacey’s U.S. Congressman character’s chief of staff on the Netflix show. “It’s the best exposure of anything I’ve done in the past,” Kelly explained. “The storyline is so relevant and of course, it broke barriers in being nominated since it’s not traditional television.
“It’s just such a treat working on the show. It’s so rare to be on something so good with so much talent. The writing and directing are outstanding.”
Kelly’s appearance in Superman, a top ten film for 2013, was another plus for his career, especially getting to work with the director, Zach Snyder who also directed 300. In the summer’s second movie, Now You See Me he worked with stars such as Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman.
Kelly says House of Cards keeps him busy during the May to October filming year but he managed to squeeze in some work this year. “We film in Baltimore so I do a lot of driving back and forth to NYC, where we live.”
Kelly and Mendel live with their two children Franke, 4 and Clinton, 1 in a 20th floor apartment on the Lower East End that they renovated while they lived in their 18th floor apartment in the same building. It was their second renovation. The first one he did almost all the work but this time, with his busy schedule, they subbed it out.
While House is his favorite overall role, Kelly says his most rewarding professionally was Changeling which was directed by Clint Eastwood. The most fun was his first film Dawn of the Dead. “There was a lot of running, jumping and shooting,” he laughed. Kelly says he and his family enjoy visits back to Gwinnett with his parents and siblings once or twice a year and will be home for Thanksgiving this year. “It’s always great to come back,” he said, adding that even after 20 years as a New Yorker he is still an Atlanta Braves fan.
“I watch every game unless I’m working,” he said, adding that it was an exciting year to be a Braves fan.
Kelly’s mom and dad, Maureen and Mike Kelly subbed for their son at a Brookwood High School ceremony when the school added him to their Wall of Fame this year. “He had his plane ticket to come but at the last minute work interfered,” Maureen Kelly said adding that Michael’s name is up there with other Brookwood grads who have achieved success, including former Today Show personality, Amy Robach and retired Denver Broncos placekicker, Jason Elam.
Kelly hopes that his Gwinnett County friends and fans will follow him on Twitter at @michaelkkellyjr. “I only started recently and already have 3000 followers,” he said. “Facebook was constant and overwhelming but Twitter is specific, so it’s much easier.”
Life is good for the former Lawrenceville resident. There is plenty of work that he loves and he has a wonderful family. He loves seeing how excited the children get when he comes home after working away for several days.
“It’s the best having children,” he said. “We’re more tied down but they make life worthwhile.”
Maureen and Mike Kelly are proud of their son, as any parent would be. “He set out to do it (become an actor),’ Maureen Kelly said. “And he has not only done it, he has done it well.”