Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2013 by Peter Sciretta
Last night I attended a screening of the first two episodes of House of Cards, followed by a conversation with David Fincher. I had already watched the entire series on Netflix, but it was great to see the show on a huge screen. Unlike other shows I’ve seen in special theater broadcasts, House of Cards felt more like a movie in the large format. Elvis Mitchell hosted the conversation at LACMA as part of Film Independent. While I usually like Mitchell’s Q & A’s, this one was a bit subpar as Mitchell tried to focus on his interpretations of characters and moments in the series, and Fincher wasn’t willing to consider those ideas as his own. But I did learn 11 interesting tidbits about Fincher and the series. Read them now after the jump.
Please be warned, items #1 and 2 contain potential spoilers for the first two episodes.
1. Peter Russo Was Supposed To Have a Much Smaller Role In The Story.
Corey Stoll‘s character Peter Russo was originally designed to be “much more tangential” to the story’s long plotline. But when the character and actor began to impress the producers, they decided to expand his role, greatly effecting the blueprints of the future of the series.
“A lot of the stuff we planned for episodes 8, 9 and 10 started being cannibalized and moved forward to episodes 2, 3, and 4 [of season 2]. And you get to do that, as opposed to a feature film where the blueprint is a blueprint and its about executing that. With this, the petri dish is alive and constantly evolving.”
(photo thanks to terytrixie)
2. A Character Who Was Only Suposed To Appear Once Accidentally Became A Reoccurring Character.
When David Fincher was casting the pilot episode, Rachel Brosnahan earned the one-off role as the teenage prostitute character Rachel Posner with only a two-line audition. Because of the expansion of the Russo storyline, Rachel was brought back for the larger storyline but the producers didn’t even know if she would be able to handle to larger role. She ended up appearing in 7 of the 13 episodes.
“Beau Willimon, who is the voice of the show, wrote this incredibly huge character for her and we were going, ‘we’re not sure if Rachel is gonna do this. Like, we brought her in to open the glove compartment and go ‘here you go’. And she’s amazing. But we sat there going, ‘we can’t suddenly change people and audition someone new. And there are these five-six page scenes and we gave it to someone who came in to just play a one-off, but you go, let’s follow this and see where this goes.”
3. Every character is their own protagonist.
One of the most interesting quotes Fincher gave during the conversation was one of the notes that he gives all of his screenwriters. In this series it seems to apply even more than it does in most films.
“The thing I always say to any writer that I’m working with is: Just make sure that in any argument, EVERYONE is right. I want every single person arguing a righteous side of the argument. That makes interesting drama.”
4. Fincher didn’t compose his episodes for television but for larger High Definition displays.
The behavior of a lot of the characters on the show is sometimes sinister or filled with lies, and Fincher wanted to show this more in medium shots than close-ups.] Fincher doesn’t even consider House of Cards a television show, instead referring to it as “an interrupted movie.” Wonder what the Director’s Guild would think of that?