Since its debut in 2013, Netflix series House of Cards has earned critical acclaim and a massive fan following. But all of the show’s hard-earned prestige would come to be marred by allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of its star Kevin Spacey. Then in July 2018 House of Cards’ leading lady, Robin Wright, would speak out about her erstwhile colleague’s actions on set.
In House of Cards Spacey played ambitious Democratic congressman Frank Underwood. And in search of power, Frank commits a number of morally dubious and downright criminal acts – including murder – in order to eventually rise to the presidency of the United States.
Meanwhile, Wright stars as Frank’s wife, Claire. And Claire, like her husband, is motivated by power and is ruthless in its pursuit. The couple therefore spend the series scheming their way to the top – either by working together or against each other.
And in its first five seasons, House of Cards received plenty of critical praise and award honors. In fact, the Netflix show would become the first original online series to earn Emmy nominations in major categories, while both Spacey and Wright have also picked up Golden Globes for their respective roles.
Then in October 2017 allegations began to surface of Spacey’s sexual misconduct. Actor Anthony Rapp came forward to tell BuzzFeed that in 1986, when he was 14, he had attended a party at Spacey’s home. At the end of the celebration, the then 26-year-old Spacey had allegedly taken Rapp into his bed and made an unwanted sexual advance on the teenager.
In reaction to Rapp’s claims, Spacey released a statement that appeared to show contrition. The actor wrote, “[If] I did behave as [Rapp] describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”
Spacey did not ultimately admit that Rapp’s accusations were true, however. “I honestly do not remember the encounter. It would have been over 30 years ago,” he explained. But further claims of sexual misconduct on Spacey’s part were eventually made. Indeed, another 15 people emerged with their own stories of alleged abuse.
All of this came to light in the middle of filming the sixth season of House of Cards. As a result, then, Netflix decided not only to halt production but to actually pull Spacey from the cast. And, furthermore, the streaming company ended all association with the actor by also canceling the distribution of a Gore Vidal biopic in which he had appeared.
Fortunately for Netflix and House of Cards fans, there remained an alternate lead for the show in Wright’s Claire Underwood. And although Netflix executives cut the series’ sixth season by a proposed five episodes, they ultimately decided to proceed with filming without any involvement from Spacey.
Then, with the final installment of House of Cards in the can, Wright decided to publicly reflect on the events of 2017. Speaking to Today in July 2018, the actress chose to go on record to reveal her thoughts on the subject. She spoke about Spacey and the allegations made against him.
Firstly, Today’s Savannah Guthrie asked Wright how the “real-life drama” had impacted on House of Cards’ cast and crew. And the star responded, “I think we were all surprised [about the allegations regarding Spacey], of course, and ultimately saddened.”
Then, when Guthrie wondered whether Wright had seen anything suspect while working with Spacey, the actress replied that their relationship had been strictly professional. “We were co-workers, really. We never socialized outside of work,” Wright said.
Wright went on to recall that, while on the job, she and Spacey had shared a “respectful, professional relationship.” She added, “He was so great with me. [He] was never disrespectful to me.” Even so, the award-winner gave the caveat that this had been her own personal experience of Spacey – which, she claimed, was “the only thing [she had] the right to talk about.”
On top of that, Wright confirmed that she hadn’t heard from Spacey since the allegations had emerged, nor had she talked to him since he had been let go by Netflix. “I don’t even know how to reach him,” the House of Cards star said.
With that, Guthrie pressed again, asking if Wright had seen any “red flag[s]” from her co-star. “Kevin and I knew each other between ‘action’ and ‘cut’ and in between setups where we would giggle,” Wright reiterated. “I didn’t know the man, I [only] knew the incredible craftsman that he is.”
Guthrie and Wright then went on to discuss Netflix’s reaction to the allegations. In particular, the journalist wanted to know if Wright thought the company had done the right thing by cutting Spacey off – especially within the context of the wider “Me Too” movement against sexual harassment and abuse.
“I don’t know how to comment on that,” Wright began, “but I think at that time, the shock was so intense all over the nation for many reasons, many stories, many people. I think that everybody felt that it was respectful to back off.”
Then Guthrie turned the spotlight on Wright. Had she experienced sexual harassment, as many women in Hollywood reportedly had? And the actress almost chuckled as she answered, “Of course. Who hasn’t?”
“This is a bigger, broader issue, I think, which is seduction,” Wright went on. “I don’t care who you are, it’s about power. And once you overpower someone, that person then becomes vulnerable. And this last year has shined a light in a new way to allow us to start a new conversation.”
Of course, Wright’s solo starring role in House of Cards is sure to start a conversation of its own. But the very fact that she has had the opportunity to go on without Spacey has left Wright feeling grateful. “We forged ahead,” she said, “and we were so thankful that we were able to complete the series as planned.”