7 Questions for Kevin Spacey

House of Cards
David Giesbrecht/Netflix
House of Cards

With House of Cards back for Season 3 on Netflix, we asked star Kevin Spacey to dish on Frank’s fatal flaw, sex in the White House, and the real-life response to his on-screen machinations.

What’s the strangest thing a politician has ever said to you about the show?

[House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy told me something privately that I thought he would never say publicly–and then he said it in an interview. This was when he was majority whip; he said, “You know, if I could kill just one congressman, I’d never have to worry about another vote!” Apparently, nine congressmen called him the next morning and said, “Am I the one? Would it be me?”

Has any politician ever told you that you got something exactly right–or wrong–about his or her job?

I’ve heard the gamut. I’ve heard people say, “Oh, it’s such a cynical version; it isn’t really like that.” But I’ve had other people say it’s closer to the reality than you would like to think.

What was the most memorable response to last season’s threesome with Frank, Claire, and their Secret Service guard Meechum?

People started calling it a “threechum.”

After seeing it, I couldn’t help but picture every POTUS and first lady.

Oh, I’m sure a lot of naughty things have gone on in that White House.

Have you ever questioned, or refused to do, anything that was in the script?

Never because of shock value, nor have I said, “I won’t do that!” I don’t presume to know everything about Frank Underwood; I’m also learning what he’ll do. There are times when I’ll ask for more words in his sentences so I can get that Southern rhythm in his voice. The way [executive producer] Beau [Willimon] and I work is, sometimes I will come up with an idea–and it’s a really bad idea, he’ll think–but that will lead him to a really good idea, and then that will lead to me adding to it. One of the great pleasures is being able to continue to either peel back the onion or add another layer to it.

Why do you think the greatest political rascals of film, literature, and television have been Southern?

I couldn’t possibly know that. But I do know that when Beau and I were deciding where Frank should be from, he chose South Carolina because that’s where his dad was from. He called his dad one night and gave him a couple of lines of Frank’s dialogue, and his dad read the lines back and Beau said, “That’s it!” It gives Frank a Southern gentility and toughness that was a nice counterpoint to Ian Richardson’s British accent in the original House of Cards.

This season it looks as though Frank is aging a lot faster than you are. Is all that pressure getting to him?

I think we’ve all probably noticed that our presidents tend to age very quickly, and that was something we discussed before we started filming the first episode and something we were able to imitate. But I’m not going to give away how we do it.

What would you say is Frank’s fatal flaw?

These are things that audiences may discover–and that we may reveal. I try very hard not to make blanket statements. Whenever I’m playing roles, I don’t judge the characters. I just play them and let the chips fall where they may. I let the viewer be the judge.

House of Cards, Friday, Feb. 27, Netflix