“Politicians and actors have some things in common” reflects Joel Kinnaman as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his role as a governor running for president on the Netflix drama series “House of Cards.” As he explains, “Actors come from a genuine place and exploit it for different roles and situations. If it’s a memory like about someone who died, it can almost feel foul when you use it to take it to an emotional place. Politicians come from a genuine place as well of believing things. Then they exploit that and run the risk of muddling their moral compass.”
Kinnaman joined the fourth season of this Emmy-winning series to play Will Conway, the Republican opponent of President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey). He vividly recalls the scene where these political titans face each other for the first time. “When Will came to the Democratic convention, he and Frank ended up in a room together. It was a 15-minute scene. I’m originally a theatre actor and Kevin is closely connected to the stage, so it felt like a play.” And, he notes, “You don’t always get that in TV. To play a one on one scene like that with one the top three or five actors in the world was a lot of fun.”
The actor describes in detail what that scene revealed about their characters. “It’s the first time they see each other. They realize, even though on the outside they are very different, that at the core they are quite similar animals.” For him, “this meant there is some appreciation and admiration for each other, that they both were big enough to show. They are political predators where power is the end game. This whole political theatre is a means to an end. It’s all about getting that power.”
As to whether his character is as evil as Frank, Kinnaman says “he has the capacity but the fact that Will has kids may soften him up a bit.” However, he is quick to point out “any kind of riskiness, pales in comparison to the madness that is going on now with America’s Berlusconi. It’s so terrifying. Let us do the entertainment.”
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