Bat­tle for con­trol

House of Cards star Kate Mara en­joys her first tele­vi­sion role, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

TELE­VI­SION shows like The West Wing give the im­pres­sion Wash­ing­ton DC, the epicentre of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, is full of ide­al­is­tic types who serve the greater good.

Al­low the new 13-episode pay-TV drama House of Cards to present a dif­fer­ent view.

An Amer­i­can re­make of an ac­claimed UK minis­eries of the same name, it fol­lows cun­ning con­gress­man Fran­cis Un­der­wood (Kevin Spacey) as he uses any means at his dis­posal to rise through the po­lit­i­cal ranks. Swept up in his cam­paign is Zoe Barnes, an am­bi­tious young jour­nal­ist whose de­sire for power and recog­ni­tion sees her en­ter into a com­plex, danger­ous re­la­tion­ship with Un­der­wood. The bal­ance of power is not al­ways as it ap­pears. Play­ing Zoe is Kate Mara, best known for roles in Broke­back Moun­tain and Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story. What at­tracted you to House of Cards?

When I picked up the script, I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t wait to see what hap­pened next. It’s a grip­ping story about power strug­gles be­tween peo­ple. Did you iden­tify with the char­ac­ter of Zoe?

I don’t nec­es­sar­ily re­late to her morals. One of the main things I re­lated to was her in­cred­i­ble am­bi­tion. Be­ing driven is a huge part of who she is. As a kid, I used to think noth­ing could get in my way. The only thing I have ever wanted to be is an ac­tress. I have been act­ing since I was nine; I got an agent when I was 14. As a child, I did a lot of bad com­mu­nity theatre be­cause I was so keen to be in­volved. What do you think at­tracts Zoe to Kevin Spacey’s char­ac­ter Fran­cis?

Zoe is at­tracted to pow­er­ful peo­ple be­cause she wants to be pow­er­ful her­self. She sees some of her­self in him, and he sees some of his for­mer self in her. She knows she is be­ing ma­nip­u­lated by Fran­cis, but she lets it hap­pen be­cause she knows she could use the in­for­ma­tion to her ad­van­tage.

We love watch­ing a train wreck. It’s fun to watch peo­ple play out the things we don’t have the guts to do in real life. Kevin is good at be­ing bad. It’s hard not to love him, no mat­ter how evil he is. How did you find work­ing along­side Spacey?

It was great. I al­ways felt taken care of by Kevin. We had pages and pages of dia­logue to­gether and very in­tense scenes. To keep things in­ter­est­ing at 3am, he’d draw me funny pic­tures. He has this ridicu­lous sense of TV is a huge com­mit­ment. One rea­son I’ve never done a TV show be­fore is I don’t like think­ing, ‘‘For this many years, I will be play­ing the same char­ac­ter’’. But this didn’t feel like TV be­cause of the peo­ple in­volved. It felt like mak­ing six movies in a row with peo­ple I want to make movies with. You had 13 hours to de­velop a char­ac­ter, yet it felt like a movie. It was the best of both worlds. House of Cards takes place in the world of Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics. Is that some­thing you fol­low?

No, I don’t fol­low pol­i­tics at all. But one of the great things about the show is that you don’t have to be in­ter­ested in that world to en­joy watch­ing it.

House of Cards: Tues­days, 8.30pm, Show­case.

Tell us about how the pair’s re­la­tion­ship un­folds? House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and (inset) Kate Mara

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