*Rep. Frank Underwood of the Netflix series “House of Cards” may be a ruthless politician willing to contort his own ethics and morals if it will move him or his cause just an inch forward, but actor Kevin Spacey says his character’s by-any-means-necessary tactics in Washington are not unlike that of our 16th President’s approach in getting the 13th Amendment through the House.
“One of the things I liked so much about Steven Spielberg’s film [‘Lincoln’] was both the screenwriter and Spielberg were not afraid to show a politician who has without question, and in American folklore, become an almost saintly figure – showing what he was willing to do to get an anti-slavery bill passed,” Spacey told us during roundtables for the series. “He was willing to give appointments to people, willing to put them in positions that today if that happened, it’d be a big scandal.
“But he felt it was worth it. That giving pointless jobs to various politicians in order to get their vote, to change something he fundamentally felt was important means we were watching a politician at work. Not a saint. A politician.
Although Underwood’s causes are a tad more self-serving than trying to save the union, his Lincoln-esque mastery of manipulation, combined with his relentless determination to move the chains in his march down the political gridiron are part of what has lifted this Netflix series into the national conversation.
It’s even made a fan of our current president, whose official Twitter account expressed delight at the show’s Feb. 14 return.
Below, Spacey addresses an aspect of the series that has actually turned viewers away – Frank Underwood’s “direct address” asides to the camera. It was a dramatic device first used by Shakespeare, and a habit Spacey got used to while starring in an international traveling production of “Richard III.”