Tribeca: Kevin Spacey, 'Richard III' Co-Stars Talk 'House of Cards' Origins in Shakespeare Play
Before Kevin Spacey was sharing Frank Underwood's manipulative plots with viewers on House of Cards, he was revealing his evil schemes to crowds around the world as Richard III in the globe-trotting production that serves as the subject of the new documentary Now: In the Wings on a World Stage.
In the film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival Monday night, viewers are not only given a backstage pass to the Sam Mendes-directed performances staged by Spacey and his company of actors from both the U.K. and the U.S., they also learn how each of the castmembers developed their characters and the way they bonded with one another over the course of the production's 200 performances in 12 cities around the world.
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"In many ways, it's not just a revealing look at what it's like to be an actor in a company but also it's a bit of a travelogue," Spacey told The Hollywood Reporter prior to the screening and post-film Q&A with Charlie Rose, adding that viewers would see everything from character development to the technical aspects of putting on a show: "A lot of the stuff that an audience doesn't see and in many ways they don't even think about."
Spacey's castmate Gemma Jones said that the film would give people insight into the cast's friendships and also, she hoped, make them want to go to the theater.
"It's more about the camaraderie and generosity of the actors backstage," she said. "And I hope it will make people think, 'I wish I had seen that production' and not be so intimidated by Shakespeare and go to the theater more."
In addition to friends, Spacey also found Frank Underwood's secret service agent Edward Meechum in the Richard III company, suggesting Nathan Darrow for the part he's now played for two seasons on the Netflix drama.
Aside from the direct addresses to the audience, Darrow sees other parallels between the political drama and Richard III.
"Even the plot of someone who feels slighted and feels that he has more talent than he's given credit for, deciding that … 'No rules for me any more. I will be the villain. I'm going to step into the role of the villain, and here I go, and you're going to watch me do it,' " he said.
The film will be released in both theaters and online on May 2, with Spacey self-distributing the title.
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"I believe that films like this are often undervalued by the industry, and I wanted to see, as an experiment, how much of a crossover is there for a film like this," said Spacey. "I decided I wanted to be in charge and do it myself and to some degree I had to walk the walk of my MacTaggart lecture last August and do it in my own way."
Spacey's Richard III castmate Simon Lee Phillips said that the actor and "clever businessman" was making a brave move.
"He's taking a huge risk -- financially, himself, as well because I think a lot of the money, or actually all of the money, is all his," said Phillips.
Spacey was joined by many of his House of Cards castmates at the premiere, including Michel Gill, Michael Kelly and Kristen Connolly.
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Connolly, whose character disappears midway through the second season of House of Cards, said she hoped she'd be back for season three but wasn't sure of the plan.
"I think everything is sort of under lock and key," she said. "I'd love to come back to the show. I love the show and I love [my character] Christina, and I hope that she's happy wherever she is right now."
Another of Spacey's colleagues who's hoping for the chance to reprise a memorable role is Jones, who played Bridget Jones' mother in both films based on the best-selling books starring Renee Zellweger. Howevere, the fate of a third movie up in the air.
"Jim Broadbent, who played my husband, we talk occasionally and he said, 'Well if they don't hurry up, I'll be in a wheelchair,' " Jones told THR.