Netflix premiered its highly buzzed about original series 'House of Cards' today. The series is solely for its subscribers. Netflix believes that instead of viewers waiting from week to week to see the next episode of a great show, why not make the entire season available all at once, so people can watch at their leisure. All 13 episodes are available now and the series reportedly cost 100 million dollars to create. It boasts a major team and cast from Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara to executive producer David Fincher and Joel Schumacher even directed two episodes. An uncompromising exploration of power, ambition and the American way, the series orbits Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the House Majority Whip. Underwood is the politician’s politician - masterful, beguiling, charismatic and ruthless. He and his equally ambitious wife Claire (Robin Wright) stop at nothing to ensure their ascendancy.
This week, Netflix hosted an elegant gala to premiere the series at Alice Tulley Hall at Lincoln Center. Cast in attendance included Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara (in Dolce&Gabbana), Michael Kelly, Corey Stoll, Kristen Connolly, Sakina Jaffrey, Constance Zimmer, Sandrine Holt, Michael Gill, Boris McGiver, Nathan Darrow, Sebastian Arcelus and Dan Ziskie. Executive Producers: David Fincher, Beau Willimon (Showrunner), Lord Michael Dobbs and Dana Brunetti were also in attendance in addition. The series is produced by Media Rights Capital, Modi Wiczky and Asif Satchu (Co-CEOs) and in addition to Fincher, directed by Carl Franklin, James Foley, Charles McDougall and Joel Schumacher.
Additional Attendees included: Rooney Mara, Tom Hanks, David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, Ben Foster, Glenn Close, Kim Cattrall, Carla Gugino, Taylor Schilling, Victor Garber, Josh Lucas, Natasha Lyonne and more. Examiner.com was on the red carpet for the event where we spoke with many of the cast members. Check out they had to say about working on the historic project:
Beau Willimon ("Ides of March") wrote every episode and served as the showrunner for the series.
Q: Tell us about your role on the show?
Beau Willimon: Well, I mostly focus on the writing side of things, so I started working with David [Fincher] about three years ago on the pilot, and then we got Kevin and Robin on board and teamed up with Netflix. So I look at 800 pages and say, how can I make these 800 pages compelling and worthy of the amazing cast we have and the amazing directors we’re working with and the goal is to try to tell an engaging, sophisticated story over the course of 26 hours.
Q: This is based on a BBC mini-series of the same name, how much did you borrow from that show?
Beau Willimon: The BBC mini-series which aired in 1990 was fantastic. I think it really was revolutionary for its time, it placed an anti-hero at the center of the story, which is something we’ve grown accustomed to but with characters like Walter White or Tony Soprano, but was new at the time. We certainly cherry picked and borrowed some great stuff from that, but we also wanted to Americanize it, make it contemporary and put our own stamp on it. So while there are some similarities early on, we diverge pretty quickly, and most of the story is fresh and new.
Q: How did your sister Rooney Mara support you?
Kate Mara: It was challenging just because it was a new experience for me, so if I ever felt, you know, crappy about what I was doing or that I wasn’t performing at my best, I’d call her and talk to her about it and she always made me feel better because she went through the same sort of experiences and that sort of thing.
Q: You play a reporter, do you think you would be good at it in real life?
Kate Mara: No! I think too much about what I’m writing, when I’m writing. It would take me forever. I’m also not a good writer. I wouldn’t be a good blogger.
Q: Do you have any favorite designers right now?
Kate Mara: Prabal Gurung, I love him.
Q: Tell us about your character?
Robin Wright: I don’t want to give anything away, but they’re leaders, let’s put it that way. They’re Machiavellian and they’re both leaders, so the ends justify the means, you know what I’m saying?
Q: Is it more fun to play a dark character?
Robin Wright: Well, you have somewhere to go. Just to become good and maybe worse, right?
Q: Tell us about your character.
Sakina Jaffrey: My character is Linda Vasquez, she’s a chief of staff to the President and the whole show is really about power. Everybody grabbing at it, sometimes just for their own purposes, and Linda’s power lies in her denying or allowing people access to the president. She’s fiercely protective of him and she can get kind of rabid when it comes to protecting him, and as a result, Kevin is my main nemesis on the show.
Q: What’s it like going head to head with Kevin Spacey?
Sakina Jaffrey: Oh, it’s so much fun! It’s so much fun because Linda has intellectual might. Much more might than I have, I might add, and when you’ve got the brains, you can take somebody down in Washington.
Q: And what did you love about the whole project?
Sakina Jaffrey: I feel as if I’ve been an actor for decades, and I’ve done film, independent film, I’ve done theatre, I’ve written my own stuff, but this really felt like I landed, I went to sleep one day and I landed in Olympic village, and I was with the absolute best people in the world, and I was like, alright, let’s get going, let’s get on the track and do this sucker.
Q: What was it like working with David Fincher as the director and executive producer?
Sakina Jaffrey: Amazing, I mean he’s an unbelievable perfectionist and besides just, I mean he does a million takes, but everybody there wants to do well, and wants to bring their A-game for David Fincher. It’s really an amazing thing, you know, and so interesting, like little things like, if he is looking at your shoes, he says, "wait, those shoes are pearly white, I need an iridescent white," like that detailed. And he can do absolutely every single thing on the set, so he’s fantastic.
The iconic Joel Schumacher directed episode four and five of the show. "The best ones," he exclaimed.
Q: What was it like collaborating with David on this project?
Joel Schumaker: Well, we had been friends since he was the boy genius of commercials, the commercial and music video world. Before he directed his first film, so we’ve been friends ever since probably in the mid ‘80’s, early ‘80’s, I can’t remember. But we stayed friends.
Q: And he invited you to direct a few episodes?
Joel Schumaker: Yes, I had just decided not to do a movie I was supposed to do and they just called me on a fluke. David and Josh Donen and Beau Willimon the writer and I said "sure." So they said come down to Baltimore, it’s only 108 degrees and you’ll have a good time and I had worked with Kevin on, "A Time to Kill," so we are old creative partners.
Q: What do you think of Kate Mara as one of the new “it” girls?
Joel Schumaker: To work with her is a dream and she has a fascinating role.
Q: Tell us about your character.
Sebastian Arcelus: I am the head editor of the Washington paper in the show, and I’m fighting, I’m holding up the banner for journalism, true journalism. Verifiable facts, as opposed to all the blogging and all the other stuff that tries to pass for news lately.
Q: What was it like diving into this world?
Sebastian Arcelus: I have to say that from start to finish, working with this pedigree of producers, actors, directors, it’s pretty remarkable. The writers, it was something about that day one when you walked into that first table read and David Fincher sat down and challenged us to do our best ... So it doesn’t get better than that. And then from that, everything flowed in the most remarkable manner, and every day going to work was a true pleasure. It doesn’t get better than this, you know.
Wass Stevens: It was interesting, a little frightening to see kind of behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz, you know. A lot of times with the press and media, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. You see movies, and it has to come from somewhere, so to be part of a project like this - which is really kind of behind the scenes, is very fun, interesting, and a little daunting, you know. It’s a little frightening to know that this actually really does happen, it’s not just in the movies and on television.