'I know more about international politics than most of my American colleagues.I can bring something new to this story,' says Agnieszka Holland, who is to direct the 10th and 11th episodes of House of Cards' third season.
How would you explain the House of Cards
series’ worldwide success? Its prototype – the British BBC miniseries of the same name – wasn’t as popular.
Agnieszka Holland: The series hit at the right place and time. It’s excellently written, well made and played by amazing actors. It’s like a pop version of Macbeth. It turns out that it hit the target. It’s excellent entertainment, but apparently there is something more behind it: some kind of truth about the ruthlessness, cynicism and narcissism of politicians. I don’t think this series is of any special importance, but when the news came out that I would direct it, the reaction was as if I'd won three Oscars.
IC: House of Cards, along with the other Netflix platform productions, achieve such successes because screenwriters and directors are given much more autonomy than in Hollywood. They can show more creativity because they don’t have to worry about viewership ratings. How much freedom do you have when directing House of Cards?
AH: My freedom is limited because I'm working on the third season. The film is already formatted, cast, so my contribution is secondary. Very often, those who invent series are terribly tense and don’t want to discuss anything with anyone, instead they demand only the execution of their concept. Beau Willimon – House of Cards’ screenwriter – is a young man, very intelligent and willing to talk to directors, he’s open-minded. Thanks to him, the series is more the director’s than anyone else's. A very important role in creating the series was played by David Fincher, one of the best American film directors (he directed the first two episodes and is the executive producer of all of them). For sure, the atmosphere on the set is nicer than it usually is in the case of other series.
As you said, you accepted the proposal of directing House of Cards
because you wanted to work with its two main actors: Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. What is so interesting about them?
They are amazing actors, not only in House of Cards
. I've been following Robin for at least fifteen years. Kevin Spacey is one of the best actors of his generation. They're great, and when they play together, they are just brilliant, because they drive each other on. They’re like a pop version of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
IC: You can’t give away the plot, but you mentioned international politics, and the singers of the band Pussy Riot were seen on the set. Might the Russian conflict occur in the third season?
AH: It’s already known that Pussy Riot will feature, because they posted about it on Facebook. The Russian thread has to occur since the main character is the president of the United States. It would be hard to avoid.
IC: One of the owners of the Netflix internet platform has said that traditional television is like a landline phone: people are still going to have it and pay for it, but they’ll use it less and less, because most of them already use cell phones as well. Do you still watch a traditional TV?
AH: I have a TV set, though I must admit that I watch it less and less, because there are DVDs and the Internet. But I still watch the news. I have a certain weakness for television, though its standards are now lower than they used to be. They have to do their best or otherwise they’ll lose completely.
Source: PAP, interviewer: Inga Czerny, ed. PZ, transl. szm, October 2014