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I’m a big fan of House of Cards. Before I watched it, I wasn’t at all a Kevin Spacey fan. But after watching this US version of a UK mini-series, I’m a convert. It’s rare that a US version of a UK series ends up better than the original, but it does happen – and House of Cards is perhaps the best example of this.
The Netflix political drama stars Spacey as the fascinating Francis Underwood. Spacey’s co-stars include Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany. It has echoes of Spacey’s breakthrough film Glengarry Glen Ross. Comparisons with this film are flattering, because how many serial dramas can compete with David Mamet’s modern classic?
The first series, granted, was a slow burner, with a varied pace giving us an initial dose of trepidation. But Spacey, throughout, shows an ability to get an audience on his side that can only come from years and years in the trade.
House of Cards plays to Spacey’s strengths. The theatricality of the show – perhaps epitomised by the ‘two knocks’ and dramatic monologues, where Spacey turns to the camera – draws upon his experience on and love of the stage. Spacey did, after all, get huge acclaim for his turn as Richard III on London’s West End, and he’s also – somehow finding the time between acting gigs – the Artistic Director of non-profit producing theate The Old Vic. There are elements of Spacey’s performance that are exaggerated in that way that theatre actors often do in order to carry emotion and nuance right to the back of a vast auditorium, but these, like his Southern drawl, work because of the sophistication and charisma of his performance.
Kevin Spacey had, prior to House of Cards, faded into the background a bit. This is his most notable performance since he played another politico in J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call – and that was a show sadly seen by too few.
Spacey’s star is obviously on the rise again. According to reports earlier this year, he looks set to play British wartime PM Winston Churchill. No doubt this will offend purists – and those tired of Hollywood running roughshod over our history – but I’m positive that Spacey will bring great depth and magnificence to the role.
With all this said, it’s probably unsurprising that I’m looking forward to season three of House of Cards. Due to hit screens 27 February 2015, I’m curious to see what season three brings!