Chinese leaders big fans of Netflix series House of Cards, says star Kevin Spacey

Actor Kevin Spacey stands beside a portrait of his House of Cards character President Frank J. Underwood at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Actor Kevin Spacey stands beside a portrait of his House of Cards character President Frank J. Underwood at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - House Of Cards star Kevin Spacey said on Monday (April 11) that the series has made him a star in China - including with its communist leaders - even though the Netflix show about a ruthless political operator is not officially available there.

The actor said that he was greeted like a superstar on a recent trip to the country.

"They tell me House Of Cards is a huge success in China, that the government like it a lot and that for the man in the street (his character Frank) Underwood is seen as a man who fights corruption," he told reporters in Paris at a European launch of a new wave of Netflix series.

The political drama, adapted from a BBC series of the same name, is the Internet platform's flagship series, winning both Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

The chillingly Machiavellian congressman Underwood "is one of the most remarkable characters I have ever been able to play", Spacey said.

"The show has been so successful in so many countries. It seems to translate and (cross) borders, and it is not just because people are fascinated with American politics," the actor added.

"There are many times when I leave the set and go to my hotel room and I wonder, 'Have we gone too far?' Then I watch the news and I think, 'Maybe we haven't gone far enough.'"

Spacey, who left Hollywood to run the Old Vic theatre in London for 13 years, said he would have been incapable of playing Underwood without that time on the British stage.

"It changed me... 15 years earlier I would not have been able to play him," he said.

House Of Cards has also been a major success for Netflix in Europe, which claims to have two million subscribers across France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland.

It hopes to up those numbers with its first French-based show Marseille, starring Gerard Depardieu, which premieres in May, and the German series Dark which will follow in 2017.