Kevin Spacey on Richard III and Francis Underwood
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Kevin Spacey discusses collaborating with director Sam Mendes and the Bridge Project Company to document their staging of Richard III across three continents and in over 200 performances, revealing some of the most intimate moments behind the scenes of the play. The documentary “NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage” begins in 2011 at London’s Old Vic Theatre, when 20 American and British actors accepted the challenge of performing in a new venue in a different city every few weeks. The odyssey ends 10 months later in Brooklyn. “NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage” opens May 2 at IFC Center and will be available for download on www.nowthefilm.com.
Spacey talked about how playing Richard III prepared him for the role of Francis Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards.” He explained that Michael Dobbs, who wrote the book House of Cards, which the Netflix series draws from, based the character of Francis on Richard III, and, to some degree, on Iago from “Othello.” “So there’s a clear connection,” Spacey said. “Not just because of the direct address, which of course happens in "Richard III" and happens in “House of Cards,” and was not invented, as many people might presume, by Ferris Bueller. But in fact invented by Shakespeare.”
Spacey said that what makes Francis Underwood so compelling and the series so popular is that there’s a lot we don’t know about the characters. “There’s a tremendous amount of mystery. People wonder about the relationship between Claire and Francis. People don’t understand everything,” he said. “And that that’s one of the great joys first for an audience but second for me. I don’t show up at work every day on the set of “House of Cards” and think I know everything about Francis yet. I don’t. There’s a lot I don’t know. And there’s a lot that we have yet to reveal, and there’s things that we may never reveal.”
As an actor, Spacey likes that sense of the unknown. “In any scenario when you’re playing a complex character and the onion and you continue to discover how deep the place is from which a person’s like happens. That’s a very exciting thing—not knowing is more exciting than knowing.”