Kevin Spacey, the actor who plays ruthless Washington Democratic politician Frank Underwood in the acclaimed Netflix series “House of Cards,” told ABC’s George Stephanopolous he believes his show accurately portrays the dark underbelly of American politics.
“Our storylines are not that crazy,” he said. “They’re really not.”
Spacey made the accusation after “House of Cards” entire second season hit Neflix on Friday. The first season chronicled the (spoiler alert) Georgia’s Democrat’s rise from House Majority Whip to the vice presidency, with Underwood willing to go to any lengths — including murder — to secure power.
“For me, it’s like performance art,” Spacey cracked. “We can get done shooting in a day and I can come home and turn on the news and say, ‘Our storylines are not that crazy. They’re really not.'”
Stephanopolous wondered if the show has struck a chord due to the deep distrust of Washington now sweeping through much of America. “I’ve heard from lots of people,” Spacey responded. “Some people feel that 99 percent of the show is accurate, and that the one percent that isn’t is you could never get an education bill passed that fast.”
Spacey also related a story about House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, who helped the actor with his character research. “McCarthy, who was really very generous to me — I sort of shadowed him in the Capitol a little bit, to understand and learn what it’s actually like to be the majority whip — but he actually said recently, ‘You know, if I could just kill one member of Congress, I’d never have to worry about another vote.'”
Finally, the actor addressed those worried about the show’s deep cynicism and mistrust of Washington. “We’ve also heard a lot of comparisons, that we’re the antithesis of what ‘The West Wing’ was, which was a — a different kind of fantasy.”
He also wondered whether ruthlessness was really a bad thing in politics anymore, using former Democratic President Lyndon Johnson as an example. “Yes, he was called ruthless and Machiavellian and an S.O.B. and a lot of things during the course of his life,” he said, “but people are sort of reexamining people who are willing to do whatever they have to do.”
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