Emmy-nominated star Kevin Spacey discusses the new season of House of Cards and talks about getting started in the industry.
On February 1, 2013, Netflix launched its first original series, House of Cards. The streaming service hoped to increase subscribers by offering the first episode free, if you wanted more then you could pay a monthly fee and watch the other remaining episodes.
Fast-forward to 2017, Ted Sarandos Chief Content Officer sits down with Kevin Spacey, star and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Netflix drama. He asks Spacey if he ever thought they’d be sitting down premiering the first episode of the show’s fifth season to a room full of Television Academy members and journalists.
“I felt the scripts we pitched were really strong,” Spacey said, adding that he felt Netflix trusted him and gave them creative freedom. In discussing the ways of how the show was going to be released, he found it to be creative.
I’m going to leave others to review the first episode of the season, but let’s just say the show seems to have ripped from the headlines of the Trump administration. The Underwoods seem almost saintly in comparison. I left wanting more of the show. One episode wasn’t enough.
Sarandos asked Spacey whether the Underwoods were based on the Clintons, prompting Spacey to tease the audience with one of the many impressions he did that night of Bill Clinton, Jack Lemmon, Peter O’ Toole and Walter Matthau. Spacey said, “We discussed if he would be from the East Coast. We decided he was going to be from Gaffney (South Carolina) because Beau’s (Willimon) father was from there and we didn’t want him to sound like Clinton. ”
Spacey went on to share stories about how he first go into acting and working with his mentors throughout his career. “My mom would have said I knew I wanted to be an actor from a very young age.”
He recalled how an early encounter with Lemmon gave him the confidence to move to New York and pursue acting. “We had to do scenes from Juno and the Paycock and Jack Lemmon walked up to me and said I was terrific.” He said Lemmon told him, “You should go to New York and study to be an actor because you’re meant to do this with your life.” Spacey was 13 and took the advice.
Spacey ended up studying at Julliard and heard that A Long Day’s Journey into Night was being cast and he had to do it. “I went on an eight-month journey to get that audition and they wouldn’t see me.” Spacey shared the extreme determination of which he went through in order to get that edition and ultimately succeeding. It involved going to a series of lectures that director Jonathan Miller was running, sitting next to an old lady who had a ticket to a reception honoring Miller, and Spacey stealing that invite as the old lady was “tired.”
Spacey ended up reading with Lemmon and ended up getting the part.
Talking about the changing of the guard on House Of Cards, Willimon exited the show at the end of last season, Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese took over. “We chose not to hire new writers and new showrunners. We kept the same team.” Spacey said.
Last season also saw Robin Wright direct. “We’ve known each other a long time and we trusted each other,” he says praising her drive. “I love to make her laugh,” Spacey told the crowd. “You could probably do a 20-hour film of us just laughing.”
Spacey talked about working with director David Fincher and his process. “He is able to get you to go places. He’d say, ‘Let’s do it again,’ and by take 38, he is beating the acting out of you and you’re saying the lines with purity, clarity, and speed.”
For those close observers of Frank Underwood, you’ll have noticed he’s turning silver. “There are decisions we made, and I knew I wanted him to turn silver,” Spacey said. “There are things I know about him that you don’t know.” He teased about the upcoming season.
House of Cards Season Five streams May 30 on Netflix.