The typically unified Sunday morning shows splintered between segments on Obamacare, climate change, 2016 speculation, and the Sochi Olympics, giving actor Kevin Spacey the spotlight. On This Week, Spacey talked with George Stephanopoulos about "House of Cards," the second season of which Spacey was hawking.
The first topic was the Netflix drama's verisimilitude to the real life political machinations of Washington, D.C. Spacey enthusiastically explained that, given the dysfunction in government and the national obsession with the show, his work as the brooding, calculating Frank Underwood felt like "performance art."
After a day of shooting the show, Spacey described coming home to watch the news and having the sense that "our story lines are not that crazy." On the unpopularity of Washington, he added:
"Well, I've heard from lots of people and some people feel 99 percent of the show is accurate and the one percent that isn't is that you could never get an education bill passed that fast."
To prepare for his role, Spacey actually shadowed Kevin McCarthy, the real-life House majority whip from California, to get perspective on how the leadership leans on other representatives to vote a certain way or to make a deal happen. The experience changed everything for Spacey.
To avoid spoilers, Stephanopoulos and Spacey delved more into the idea of the show itself, putting it somewhere in between a document of its era and a fantasy. Spacey nodded at the many who believe that "House of Cards" is the "antithesis" of "The West Wing," a similarly fantastical show, but one that traded in the idealism and cheerfulness of the late 1990s rather than the disillusion of today.
Speaking of Frank Underwood's leadership style and the perks of ruthlessness, Spacey declared that he felt his character was more in line with President Lyndon Johnson, whose legacy is being reexamined as his major policies turn 50 years old this year:
“Lyndon [B.] Johnson is a character that my character in ‘House of Cards’ admires. During his lifetime and certainly during his presidency he took an enormous amount of criticism, certainly for his policies in Vietnam. But we also have to look at the fact that he passed three civil rights bills in a very short presidency."
Coincidentally enough, the front page of Sunday's New York Times had led with a story on that exact topic.
Watch the segment below:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.