ABC News – Kevin Spacey Speaks to George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week’
Below is the rush transcript of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with 'House of Cards' star Kevin Spacey for “This Week,” conducted on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, here he is live. Kevin Spacey playing Frank Underwood, thanks for coming in this morning.
SPACEY: Thank you for having me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So is he right there, is Washington more exciting than Hollywood?
SPACEY: Look, for me it's like performance art, you know, I sometimes watch it actually we can get done shooting on a day and I'll come home and turn on the news and I'll think, you know, our storylines are not that crazy. They're really not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: With some exceptions. Again, I'm not going to give too much away from the second season. But it does seem like even President Obama has a little bit of Frank Underwood -- envy, the ruthlessly efficient Frank Underwood.
SPACEY: I can imagine why he would. I've thought actually over the last year it must be really interesting for not just an American public, but people around the world to view a very effective congress that gets things done. And so I can imagine he must feel, gosh, I wish we could move that quickly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you put the two together? I mean, clearly this show is striking a cord out there in the country at a time when the country hates Washington more than ever?
SPACEY: Well, I've heard from lots of people, you know, that some people feel that 99 percent of the show is accurate and that the 1 percent that isn't is that you could never get an education bill passed that fast.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Forget about every other crime you see over the course of the show.
And you know you've got all these members of congress. I want to show a group of them. From NowthisNews.com who seem to have a little Frank Underwood envy too.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: I hope the bill is going to come up this Wednesday.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: I'd never make such a big decisions so long after sunset and so far from dawn.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: It's still going to come up.
REP. JIM CLYBURN: I have no patience for useless things.
SPACEY: McCarthy, who...
STEPHANOPOULOS: He's the Republican...
SPACEY: He was the House Republican whip who was really a very generous to me. I spent -- I sort of shadowed him in the Capitol a little bit to understand and learn what it's actually like to be the majority whip. But actually said recently that, you know, if I could kill just one member of congress, I would never have to worry about another vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's pretty true. The example that would set.
So what did you pick up from following him around?
SPACEY: Look, it's particularly interesting for him, because there are so many new members of congress who were sort of brought in, in the Tea Party and we're going to fight against Washington and we're not going to do it the usual way, that it's very difficult to harangue 218 congressman to vote a particular way you want them to vote. So I don't envy him the position. It's not easy.
But it was very for me fascinating to go to a couple of whip meetings and actually see what the agenda is, what they're going to put out there, how they do it. And so for me it was very helpful to understand what it's actually like to try to whip.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the show does get all those little details of the setting, and a lot of the conversation exactly right.
But I wonder what you make of -- you know, some people, some critics of the show look at it and say, as you point out a lot of people think this is the way it must be. But one Marcia Angell, a doctor, says, "blanket cynicism," talking about the show, "gives the illusion of understanding, not really understanding what's going on."
SPACEY: Well, I think that, you know, we've also heard a lot of comparisons to, well, we're antithesis of what the West Wing was. West Wing was a very, you know, a...
STEPHANOPOULOS: A different kind of fantasy.
SPACEY: Yeah, a different kind of fantasy. And that, you know, I think that what I think is very interesting is, is even if you look now at the way that some real politicians are being reexamined, you know, Lyndon Johnson is a character that my character in House of Cards admires. You know, 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. And yes he was called ruthless and Machiavellian, an SOB and a lot of things during the course of his life, but people are sort of reexamining...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ...that's true.
SPACEY: ...people who are willing to do whatever they have to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if he had the kind of coverage doing those -- going through those ruthless tactics that he would get today going through them, he might not be able to get what he got done.
SPACEY: Or even Abraham Lincoln. You know, you look at the film Lincoln, which showed him as a very effective politician willing to give positions to various people in order to get votes for something he thought was more important. And today that would probably be a scandal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kevin Spacey, thank you very much. House of Cards is terrific.
You can see every episode on Netflix right now. And we'll be right back.
Edit news description to add:
- Historical context: how the event or text affects the world and history
- An explanation of the work's overall story (example: "Here, President Obama confirms the legality of drone strikes...")
- The work's impact on current issues