House of Cards star Sebastian Arcelus has been dealing with a pretty lucky deck lately. He plays political reporter Lucas Goodwin on the Netflix hit and soon he'll soon start filming the Nicholas Sparks adaption of The Best of Me. Next up you can catch him in the Cinemax pilot Blanco. Sebastian was a blast to spend time with so gracious, funny and passionate about his work. Read on as he shares his fascination with politics, theatre and the TV show that gets him every time!
You play a political journalist in House of Cards at The Washington Herald. Is it true it’s not too far from what you aspired to be in your college days?Not too far, no. For a long time, I thought I'd end up somewhere in Washington. I just wasn't quite sure in what capacity.I grew up in a very politically-conscious family, and so it was just a part of our every day. There was a lot of debate, a lot of discussion. We dig in in my family; we're not much for coasting.And as a kid, I have memories of being glued to Crossfire as much as anything else. I can't count how many times I've watched All the President's Men. I loved the idea of that world…the "good" parts of it anyway. And it seemed (at the time) a very direct means by which one could make a difference.So I studied Political Science in school, did theater on the side, and then spent my summers all over the map…interning in international business, volunteering at a Presidential campaign headquarters in DC, manning a forklift in a Miami warehouse, backpacking through Europe. Along the way, I managed to talk my way out of law school and into a career in the arts.But needless to say, my fascination with that world has never quite gone away. And then Aaron Sorkin went and fused all that hope and aspiration and art into one perfectly inspiring package in The West Wing. That I have on a constant loop.I guess maybe it's just a part of my DNA. And somehow, I think David Fincher could just sense that in each of us, in our own way. Some "of that world" authenticity that hopefully grounded us all even further, in this story.
Are you looking forward to filming season 3 soon?Beau Willimon and our remarkable team of writers have been hard at work on Season 3 for a few months now, but it's cloaked in secrecy, of course. What I can tell you is...I know everyone involved in chomping at the bit to get back to work and see where things are headed.
In the meantime are you working on anything you could share a few details on?Yeah actually, there are a few things in the works I'm really excited about!I'm getting ready to head down to New Orleans to work on a film called The Best of Me. It's the latest adaptation of one of Nicholas Sparks' novels...a beautifully heartbreaking story of love lost and found, starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden. I play Michelle's alcoholic husband, Frank. It's a complicated, fractured relationship that while based in care is still damaged by significant pain.And I was just involved in a new CBS pilot called Madam Secretary, starring Tea Leoni as a newly-appointed, maverick Secretary of State abruptly thrust onto the world stage. Everyone involved is ridiculously talented, and, as one of her policy advisors, Jay Whitman, I got to sport a couple of choice West Wing-style "walk and talks." An actor's rite of passage into DC politics...And before that, I shot a pilot for Cinemax called Blanco. It's this dark, seductive, contemporary story of a young Dominican criminal (played by Shiloh Fernandez) who gets turned FBI informant and then uses their protection to build his own criminal network in uptown NYC. It felt like we were putting our own exciting spin on the Whitey Bulger story and telling it in a distinctly Latin way. It was a very special experience, especially in the trusted hands of our director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
In the upcoming TV show Blanco you play his lawyer, Andy Silver. How was the experience playing that character for you?I relished it. Mark Rosner created this very real, gritty world for us to step into, and, while Andy and his questionable morals fit right in, he also kind of lives above it all. He has this slick, easy, untouchable quality to him. He uses some old-world charm to essentially coach Blanco through his transition from victim to power broker. And, look, it's always fun to play someone a lot cooler than you are in real life....
You met your wife, Stephanie J Block, during the production of Wicked on Broadway. She’s a very successful actor and amazing singer. With your busy schedules, do you set aside time for a date night?Haha, yeah, I guess the last couple of years have been more about snagging the spontaneous date night, when it presents itself. Where we see the unplanned 2-3 hour free window coming up on us, and we grab it before either of us can get called away. But we're pretty good at cobbling up some special.And there's weekends, of course, when we're not doing a play. We dig our down time. Big day-trippers and overnighters, we've found some great spots in every direction to which we can disappear every now and then.
The theatre is where you got your start, do you think you’ll always try to get back there when you can?Absolutely. Whenever I can. There really is nothing like it.
When you have some TV time, what are your favorite shows to tune into?Oh boy. Ok….here we go:Breaking Bad--Unreal. Every episode was better than the season finale of any show I'd ever seen.The Americans--Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are too good.Orphan Black--Can the world please pay more attention to the force of nature that is Tatiana Maslany…?!The Walking Dead -- I want to play Andrew Lincoln's long-lost brother. Can we make that happen??Family Guy-- Arguably my wife's favorite, it's a staple.And, again, that trusty "The West Wing." Gets me every time.
Clothing By Robert James-words and photos by Tina Turnbow