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

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.”


Kevin Spacey

Comments [7]


Notice how the spoiler for season 2 and Spacey's reaction have been cut.

May. 01 2014 03:52 PM
Adam Jacobson

spoiled a great show. i am glad other people are pointing out this error. it's a big one. am angry about it. an apology indicated. gina, you do not speak for others. your experience is not spoiled, but you don't speak for the rest of us.

Apr. 23 2014 06:26 AM
gina ballinger from graz austria

nobdy can "spoil" a season as i listen to Kevin Stacey (opening to the Edinburgh Festival 2013)! truly appreciate these LL quality of conversations. Thank You!

Apr. 23 2014 05:00 AM
Jodel from Park Slope

Really WNYC?...spoiling the ending of season two for your devoted audience in the intro.....not the end of the world but let's put our thinking caps on when writing these and give you listeners a chance to avoid hearing it...

Apr. 22 2014 03:28 PM

Shame on you for spoiling the end of season 2.

Apr. 22 2014 03:21 PM

You live. You learn. From your mistake revealing the end of Season II. It's not the end of the world, but spoiler alerts are de rigeuer.

Apr. 22 2014 01:47 PM
Chip from Freeport

Thank you - I'm watching " House of Cards" on netflix. You have saved me so much time
by announcing the end of season 2. No need for that, think please.

Apr. 22 2014 01:37 PM

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