Kevin Spacey is no stranger to treacherous roles so he's perfect to play ruthless politician Francis Underwood in the remake of House Of Cards. Jeananne Craig speaks to the honorary Brit.
FRANCIS UNDERWOOD IS SUCH AN INTERESTING, COMPLEX CHARACTER TO PLAY. DID YOU BASE HIM ON ANYONE?
No, not at all. Michael Dobbs created a pretty interesting character in Francis Urquhart, as he was called in the original House Of Cards, and we looked at that series and we thought, 'It's delicious and it's diabolical', and used it as this launch pad to try to turn the show into something that's quite real and current. And because Michael Dobbs based it on Richard III, there's a rich tapestry, there's a lot in it. We've only done 13, but it's like being in the middle of a pretty amazing championship chess match.
ARE THERE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SHOWBIZ AND POLITICS?
I think you can definitely see the qualities of being a performer, getting your message across, talking to your audience, getting your listener to believe you. That works in politics too.
WHAT MAKES THIS ONE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TV SHOWS?
I have no idea what makes it different. It's not Homeland, it's not Veep. It is its own thing. I think Homeland's brilliant, I love Veep, it's very funny. I think people have always been interested in politics and it's always been great fodder for examining in film and television.
TELL ME ABOUT THE DYNAMIC BETWEEN YOU AND ROBIN WRIGHT (WHO PLAYS UNDERWOOD'S WIFE). IT'S ELECTRIC ON SCREEN.
I've known Robin for 25 years, we've been close friends and we've worked with each other once before in a film called Hurlyburly. She's just an awesome Lady Macbeth and I think that relationship's going to be really interesting to explore more and more as we go on.
DID YOU FIND MAKING A SHOW FOR NETFLIX DIFFERENT TO MAKING FILMS OR A TRADITIONAL TV SHOW?
I guess you have to think of it this way: that camera doesn't know it's a TV camera. It's just a camera. We're actually not on television. We're the new television show but it isn't on television, we're streaming. So it doesn't matter what the portal is going to be, how people will see it. I think what's unique about this is that unlike most television shows, unlike most networks, we weren't asked to do a pilot. For me, it feels like I'm making a really long movie as opposed to an episodic.
HOW MUCH GUIDANCE DID YOU GET FROM DAVID FINCHER, WHO DIRECTED THE FIRST TWO EPISODES?
I don't do anything on my own, trust me. Fincher is a brilliant shaper and he questions everything in terms of, 'What are we saying in this scene? Why is it written in that way? Does that dialogue need to be here at all or could it just be a look?'
YOUR CO-STAR KATE MARA IS A REALLY IMPRESSIVE YOUNG ACTRESS. HOW DID YOU FIND WORKING WITH HER?
I think she's just dynamic. She's sexy and she's interesting and she's complex. It's a very interesting relationship in that you have a woman who is starting out her career with no power, then she comes into meeting a man who is at the peak of a kind of power - and it's interesting to see how that dynamic's going to evolve.
YOU'RE AN HONORARY BRIT NOW. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ENJOY ABOUT THE UK? It's easy to love where you live if you love what you're doing, and I love what I'm doing here. Moving here a decade ago and dedicating myself to trying to return the Old Vic theatre as a destination for audiences has been a huge challenge and tremendously satisfying. I've been very lucky. It's a great theatre, it's a theatre I have enormous affection for. I just love it.
DO YOU MISS THE MOVIE WORLD? I don't pine for anything I'm not doing. I love where I am right now, I don't wish for greener pastures. This is just perfect.
ANY FILMS IN THE PIPELINE? I think House Of Cards is enough. It takes about six months to do 13 episodes, so I'm happy to take a break.