Robin Wright says leading, directing House Of Cards was exhilarating
Lead actress Robin Wright worked long hours on final season of US political drama after co-star Kevin Spacey was fired
When star Kevin Spacey was fired from political drama House Of Cards last November in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against him, the series was on the verge of being cancelled.
It was co-star Robin Wright who fought to save the jobs of the cast and crew, and the sixth and final season premieres on Netflix on Nov 2 with the 52-year-old US actress as Claire Underwood, the new US President and chilly widow of Spacey's Frank Underwood, who is killed in mysterious circumstances.
In a move reflecting the current US political landscape, Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear play new characters, a powerful sister-and-brother team who runs a corporate empire and the wherewithal to buy politicians and influence policy to their advantage.
At our interview at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, Wright said she has had no contact with Spacey since his firing.
On what it was like to return to the production, she said: "We pulled up our bootstraps and got to work because we had a lot to do to cover eight episodes (of Season 6). We had to start over. Rewrite."
But the mood on set was not as much of a downer as expected.
She said: "We were all so tight. We had great bonds and it was such a fun group of people. It was always such a fun set. A lot of laughter, a lot of joking all the time, so that never changed."
What was your transition like from first lady to president?
We had multiple discussions. We had to take the time to process and really weigh the options, which was why we shut down for a few months.
The climate was so intense, nobody knew what to do. The final decision came about because we had to think about the fans of the show and holding up that legacy.
Why are we going to prematurely end when we could just close with the story we always intended to finish with?
She was always going to be the female president. It really did not change the arc of the show. The only thing that changed was I had more scenes and I was much more involved with the writers.
You directed some episodes. What were the challenges?
It was just that my days were longer. It was much more being heavily involved with every different department head and then directing the finale.
We would play off what was happening in DC. You could predict what could happen with our President currently and then he would trump us - no pun intended.
We were constantly having to shift and alter the scripts, so it just was more work.
I love working so much as a director. We had such an incredible production and cast.
Did the story lines change as a result of a female president?
I think it was deliberate to say, what are the key components of having this opportunity to have a female president of the United States? What can we do?
The writers said, "Why don't we make all of her Cabinet female and see how they work with one another?"
It was interesting to observe 25 women in a conference room, how they communicate.
Has the show made you more political?
No, just politically aware how corrupt it can be.
How much do Claire's clothes inform the character?
It was such a physical necessity for me as an actor. I need the clothes, shoes, wig and make-up. That is when you feel you are embodying the person more. It is really memories and how hard it was to stand up so straight all day long, to tell you the truth (laughs). That was the hardest part about playing her, being so upright.
What will you miss the most about Claire?
Her clothes. I didn't get to keep any of it because I think they are going to do an exhibition.
Anything you won't miss?
Yeah, the 16-hour days.
When you see yourself in iconic movies such as Forrest Gump or The Princess Bride, what do you think?
It is strange to look at yourself 30 years ago. That is another human being, right, when you look at pictures of yourself? It is too upsetting. You are like, oh, youth has gone (laughs).
The writer is the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards.