TORONTO — Portraying the ruthless Claire Underwood on the dark political drama “House of Cards” is demanding but continually surprising, says Robin Wright.
The Golden Globe-winning actress says she relishes playing the hardened wife of equally cold-blooded politician Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.
Claire routinely cuts down foes with an icy resolve, and it’s all in the name of the couple’s unabashed quest for power in Washington, notes Wright.
“I love her. I have to love her,” Wright says in a recent interview from New York.
“She’s so evil, but I don’t see her as evil. She’s doing her due diligence and that’s the way things work. That’s how you get jobs done and if there’s a hindrance or a roadblock you’ve got to remove the roadblock. It’s really simple.”
Season 2 of the dark drama returned to Netflix over the weekend, resuming the action with no apparent gap in time from the moment we last saw the scheming couple.
Claire and Francis are just returning home from the run they started in the previous episode when they find their underhanded confidant Doug Stamper waiting with urgent news.
Meddling reporter Zoe Barnes is getting uncomfortably close to the truth about what happened to dead congressman Peter Russo, but Stamper assures Francis he has their smoking gun — call girl Rachel Posner — “under control.” In turn, Francis says he’ll “handle” Zoe.
Meanwhile, Claire is facing a potential wrongful termination suit from the pregnant, disgruntled Gillian Cole and doesn’t hesitate in playing hardball.
Wright heaps praise on creator Beau Willimon for keeping the tension coiled tight in this new batch of episodes.
“It’s a character piece, the show. It’s like an instruction manual on how to write characters,” she says.
“He is so investigatory with the questions. Why would Claire do this? How would she do it? How would it benefit her? What’s lucrative about it? What’s sensible? ... All those questions are posed for each character and that’s the beauty of the collaboration, is that he’s asked those questions already, that’s what gives us what we play. And then we enrich it when we rehearse.”
She says she’s continually surprised by Claire and how she evolves in every episode.
“We don’t show up every day going, ’Oh, I know this character like the back of my hand.’ Do we have a sense and (do) we wear the clothes of that person? Absolutely, that’s second nature. But we’re always getting surprised once we delve into another layer of Beau’s plotlines.”
All 13 episodes of Season 2 of “House of Cards” are available on Netflix.