'House of Cards' Actors: 'Our Viewership Is Now Primed' for Binge-Watching TV

As Netflix teases the show's second season, Michael Kelly and Sebastian Arcelus chat about Kevin Spacey letting loose and how they watch their show.
Courtesy of PMK BNC/Starpix
Michael Kelly and Sebastian Arcelus

The second season of House of Cards includes a big bag of tricks.

Netflix announced that select episodes are directed by Jodie Foster, Glengarry Glen Ross' James Foley, Carl Franklin (Homeland) and John David Coles (Justified), and The Following's Jayne Atkinson and Treme's Derek Cecil have been added to the cast.

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The show returns  Feb. 14, but House of Cards actors Michael Kelly and Sebastian Arcelus could barely contain their enthusiasm just less than two weeks after production wrapped for its second season. They recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about returning to the set after the Emmys and binge-watching their own addictive show.

"Everyone was really happy to get back to work," Arcelus, who plays newspaper editor Lucas Goodwin, said at the premiere of Lilyhammer of filming season two from May to early November. "We knew when we first started that we were part of something special, but I don’t think any of us were quite ready for how well it was received, and how special that whole wave of binge-watching was, especially early on. And then later, to be honored with those Emmy nominations and wins was very special for the first TV show not delivered on TV. It was nice to be embraced by the community in that way."

The critically acclaimed first season of House of Cards was nominated for nine Emmys, a first for a streaming series, including acting nods for Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. The show won three awards, for casting, directing and cinematography.

"It’s funny, because I don’t even feel for a second that we ever thought, 'We’re doing an Internet show,' " said Kelly, who plays chief of staff Doug Stamper. "Even the first season with David Fincher, it felt like we were making a movie. And we shoot two episodes at a time, so it really does!"

While they didn't offer any teasers besides Arcelus saying, "I will be around, and we will learn things," they each shared how they consumed their own show on the streaming service. Kelly, who says he doesn't even begin to read a script if he knows he'll be interrupted, would normally prefer to binge-watch, but wasn't in a position to when House of Cards debuted.

"I had had a child during the first season, and it’s very difficult to try," he said of watching with his wife. "We were so exhausted every night that it literally took us over three weeks to watch the whole thing, and all my friends are like, 'Dude, dude,' and I’m like, 'Shut up, I haven’t seen it!' Of course, I read the script, but it took me a while to see it, which, you would think I would watch it all in a night."

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Arcelus and his wife watched the show the whole way through, as they do for Breaking Bad, The West Wing and The Sopranos.

"We prefer to binge-watch rather than having to wait week to week for your normal television schedule," he said. "We find that it’s a much more fluid process, which is what was so great about House of Cards. Beau [Willimon] and David [Fincher] really created a 13-hour segmented movie, in essence. And you can tell the story differently when you’re watching it in that fashion, regardless of whether you watched it in one session or in three days. But it plays differently when you’re able to watch it in the shortest period of time.

"Our viewership is now primed for that sort of television-watching – it makes them more excited," he continued. "The anticipation of having to wait is difficult, but once it launches, it’s exciting to watch how they devour it at their own speeds. And to honor spoilers – which is a whole 'nother wave of television that has changed too. I don’t feel like the honoring of different people’s viewing tendencies has been taken into account, and that’s pretty amazing. We can’t wait – we’re almost as anxious as viewers are to see how it all plays out."

The two actors also praised their fellow co-stars. "He’s so f---ing good – he gives it his all every day," said Kelly of Spacey, who plays House Majority Whip Frank Underwood. "He can be such a clown – he could be 1,000 percent in, right there, in the scene, and then doing impressions for the next 10 minutes while we’re turned around. And then he’s right back in it!" Of Frank Underwood's relationship with Kate Mara's journalist character Zoe Barnes, Arcelus added, "She’s just damn good at what she does. It’s been very fun to play the other side of that triangle."

To pacify the anticipation return, Netflix announced the show's premiere date by tweeting a 30-second clip starring Wright:

House of Cards is based on the BBC miniseries of the same name, and the second season is executive produced by David Fincher, Beau Willimon, Joshua Donen, Eric Roth, Spacey, Dana BrunettiAndrew Davies, Michael Dobbs and David Manson.

The series is produced by Media Rights Capital for Netflix.

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