By Deborah Vankin
12:14 PM CDT, July 18, 2013
Netflix’s political thriller “House of Cards” made television history on Thursday as the first online-delivered TV series to be recognized by the Academy with an Emmy nod -- nine, overall.
The weight of this was not lost on Kevin Spacey, who received a nomination for lead actor in a drama for his role as the show’s machiavellian, “get it done” Democrat, Francis Underwood.
Showtracker caught up with Spacey for a quick Q&A just before he was headed out for a day of shooting.
This is unprecedented. Amid all the congratulations, are you able to absorb what a big deal it is, historically, for the industry?
“It’s pretty great, pretty great for the show. We got nine nominations, which is extraordinary because we are the new kids on the block. But also, there were all these questions swirling around: ‘Would we be able to break through because of the way the show is distributed?’ It’s a fantastic acknowledgment for MRC and Netflix and the show.
Look, we’re the new kids on the block, and for us to break through in such a competitive field with so much great work being done -- it’s incredibly satisfying and a great acknowledgment for the show. It’s just wonderful that the academy has recognized the show in so many categories.
How do you think the “House of Cards” nomination will change things for TV?
It’s great for Netflix and the medium, and I expect we will start to see, hopefully, more organizations and companies stepping up and saying, ‘We want to order more programs and get into the content game.’ For the industry, it’s great because it creates jobs for more writers and more directors and more actors.
How did you feel as the names in your category were being rattled off on TV?
“I was very pleased, but it was a bit nerve-racking because they do it alphabetically, and [I was] the last name they read. So was Robin [Wright]'s. I’m also very pleased our casting got nominated because that’s paramount to our success.
What is it about the show that has resonated?
I think, regardless of how it’s distributed, the academy looks for quality. When we set out to do the series, we didn’t think a lot about how it would be distributed. It was midway through shooting that those conversations were ongoing. And ultimately a group decision was made to put the whole season out at once for the audience to be in control and to have the freedom to watch when they wanted to watch. We don’t set out creatively thinking about how it’s distributed.
Did the new distribution model affect production or the creative process at all?
Because we weren’t obligated to do a pilot, test it, come up with artificial cliffhangers and all that, we were able to get on with the story -- and we had 26 episodes to do that. Netflix and MRC just went whole hog and said, ‘Go for it.’ That’s quite interesting and, frankly, a bit of a gamble -- a two-season order with no pilot. That was unprecedented. And it allowed us to get on with the storytelling. From a creative standpoint, it got everyone’s juices going and was very exciting.
Were you surprised by how many nominations “House of Cards” received?
I don’t think there’s any way to ever know how these things will go. I was very happy we were just in the conversation.
Are you a fan of any of the nominees you’re up against?
I love "Game of Thrones," "Breaking Bad." Hugh [Bonneville], I directed at [London’s] the Old Vic almost 10 years ago now. Jeff Daniels, I’ve known for a number of years. It’s a wonderful group of actors. Let the betting begin!
Francis can be a difficult character to watch sometimes. What do you think audiences see in him -- what’s the point of connection?
Francis is an incredibly complex character; and maybe, to some degree, there’s always been a fascination with American politics and how it’s treated in entertainment. We’re a nation fascinated with politics, particularly at a time when there’s such a gridlock in Washington, D.C. However diabolical [Francis] may be, he gets stuff done. So it has to be fictional, right?
Is there anything you can tell us about next season?
I can’t say. But I’m having an even better time shooting Season 2. I’m surrounded by an extraordinary group. We’re having a ball.
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