Stars of the Netflix political drama attend season four premiere at the National Portrait Gallery.
By Claire Handscombe
The excitement was palpable on the red carpet on Monday night for the season premiere of House of Cards, the quintessential event at the intersection of Washington and Hollywood.
Secrecy was the order of the day, to the frustration of many reporters. The most Kevin Spacey would say about Season Four was, “I can guarantee that there are going to be scenes and there’s going to be some dialogue, and it will probably involve politics.” He delivered this, of course, with an actor’s flair for dramatic pauses. He didn’t weigh in politically, either, repeating several times that he didn’t think it wise to mix facts and fiction in this way.
Others were more forthcoming. Elizabeth Marvel plays Heather Dunbar, a former United States Solicitor General and now a Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election. She isn’t sure
that America is ready for its first female President. “I think Americans still want a daddy,” she said. “I can’t say that my work on the show has changed my [political] opinion, rather that sometimes fantasy is preferable to reality. I would rather have Frank Underwood on the ballot than some people that are on it.” She named no names, though. “I’m going to be political on that one,” she said.
Paul Sparks was diplomatic, too. He told Washington Life that his character, Tom Yates, “would be really curious about both Bernie Sanders and Hillary. I think he would also be curious about Trump. I think he’d be curious about all of them – they’re all fascinating.” On the secrecy surrounding the plot of Season Four, he taunted journalists. “I’m not going to tell you,” he sing-songed. “It’s so much more delicious to wait and see.”
Some of the actors seemed amused by the rock-star reception they get in DC. Kevin Spacey avoids being mobbed with a simple disguise. “I have a hat on. I look like a banker, and nobody wants to talk to bankers,” he said.
Spacey had plenty of warm things to say about Washington. “I love DC. I have a great affection for this town. I’ve done a lot of plays here over the years and of course since the series, I’ve felt so welcomed here, by both sides of the aisle. You get people thinking it’s a fictional show and it’s nothing close to the truth and then others who tell me that it’s closer to the truth than any of us would like to believe. I always have a good time when I come to DC.” He added, “This town is filled with remarkable monuments, places that remind us of sacrifices that Americans have made in wars but also some of the extraordinary men and women who’ve been involved in politics and public service. And of course the arts are big here – it’s a great theatre town, a great jazz town, some pretty awesome restaurants, and it’s also great to see all the neighborhoods that are expanding and growing.”
But as to whether he ever begins to feel like a politician himself, Spacey is clear. “I’m the kind of actor that when I hang the costume up at the end of the day, the costume stays there – it never really comes with me. There are days when we’ll finish a sequence or a scene and I think, gosh, did we go too far? Did we really push the boundaries of logic and credibility and then I get home and I turn the news on and no, actually, we haven’t gone far enough. We’re kind of tame compared to what’s really going on.”
Spacey hopes that the influence money has on politics will start to change. He also has strong views on the way the media reports news. “If people are bothered by the fact that we seem to be having entertainment as news, it’s because the news divisions decided that money and ratings were more important than reporting.” But it’s definitely not all doom and gloom and House of Cards darkness. Spacey says he’s also “a huge optimist, despite the fact that I enjoy playing characters that are a little bit Machiavellian. I believe in politics, I believe in public service, I believe that people need to get out and vote. We go through some crazy times in this country but we eventually figure it out. We usually get it right.”
As far as Season Four goes, Elizabeth Marvel revealed one interesting tidbit. “I would say that that is one thing that is different about his coming season is that it is dominated by strong women. It is exciting. It’s not always pleasant – there’s some rough stuff – but we dominate and it’s very cool.” Pleasant is not something that fans have come to expect, or want, from House of Cards. “I think the success of House of Cards is because it’s Shakespearean. It’s just excellent, classic storytelling with fantastic, complicated melodrama.” Come March 4th, we’ll know a lot more.