Spending a weekend watching an entire TV series worth of episodes is nothing new--but having a series premiere online, all at once certainly is. That's the approach Netflix is taking with its very first original series, House of Cards, with all 13 episodes of the first season (there will be two--and two only) available on-demand starting today--and they couldn't have chosen a better show to do it with. It follows a charismatic congressman (played perfectly by Kevin Spacey), his tough-as-nails wife (Robin Wright), and their smile-to-your-face-but-stab-you-in-the-back antics in Washington, D.C. With such big-name stars--not to mention director David Fincher--it's hard to imagine an up-and-coming actress stealing the spotlight—and yet if you ask us, this show is all Kate Mara. The actress plays Zoe Barnes, a reporter looking to write about more than just city council meetings--and is willing to do just about anything in the process to make it happen. Played by someone else, it could make her instantly detestable, but the brunette nails it. NYLONmag.com sat down with Mara to talk TV marathons, David Fincher phone calls, and never getting confused with her sister Rooney.
House of Cards is the first of its kind--in that it's a series produced by Netflix, with the entire season available for streaming from day one. Does that mean I'm not going to leave my house all weekend because I can't stop watching?
Yeah, well, that's the hope anyway. For me, obviously I'm in it and it can be hard to watch yourself in things, but I was so addicted to watching the series because it's so well-written and there are so many great actors in it. Hopefully people will have that reaction and just pull an all-nighter!
Did you have a feeling it was going to be that addictive when you read the script?Yeah, I mean one of the reasons why it was so great to work on was because it's not a TV series, it's not a movie, it's its own brand; we don't really know what to call it! Unlike TV, I knew exactly what I was going to be doing in episode 10, before we started shooting episode one, which is so rare. So it really felt like we just shot six movies in a row, which was amazing.
How much prep work did it take to play Zoe Barnes?
We had a few weeks before we started shooting in Baltimore, rehearsing a lot with David Fincher and Beau [Willimon], our writer, and the whole cast. And you don't always get that opportunity, so it was a lot of time spent talking about this world that we were creating and where our characters were going. I didn't spend time with any reporters or anything like that because it wasn't necessary for my character; just being able to call up Beau or Fincher at any time and saying, "What's going to happen at the end in order to know how to play the beginning?" was all I needed.
Do you have to be a political junkie to get into the show?
I think it doesn't really matter if you're interested in it or not, because before I was a part of [the show] I read [the script] and literally couldn't put it down, and I'm not interested in the political aspects of things. I was super, super addicted to just reading the script, so it's great-- I think if you're into politics it will be a great, dark world to explore and watch. And if you're not, it doesn't matter because it's mainly about the politics at home and in your relationships --not just with husbands and wives; it's the politics of people as well.
So it was the script that hooked you?
To be completely honest, as soon as I heard that Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Beau were making this I thought, Of course I want to do this if I can. And then the scripts just happened to be something that I personally loved and felt really connected to this character, so that was just lucky.
What other TV shows do you love?
I'm obsessed with Girls, I love The Mindy Kaling Project--I thinks it's hilarious. I just watched Homeland; I was late for that, but I waited for all of them and I spent a weekend watching them. I thought that was really good.
We posted a photo of you and Rooney posing on the red carpet together the other day and all of these people commented saying they had no idea you two are sisters. Do you get that a lot?
It's so funny the amount of people that say that--I guess because we don't really look alike. When you see us next to each other you can see the similarities, but we're so different, and I'm not sure why people don't know, but it's nice to be able to, ironically enough. I'm dying to see her movie [Side Effects], and my whole family is here so that will be nice.
Do you talk shop with each other?
Yeah, totally. Absolutely. And we share stories! It's such a unique thing to have your sister doing the same exact same thing that you're doing, and I feel really lucky. People are always asking, "Are you guys competitive?" and all that, and I understand why people ask that, but there are so many benefits of us both being actresses. Just emotionally to have somebody who truly understands the day-to-day and the ups and the downs of it all.
And because you each have your own identities, it seems like there hasn't been that case of Mary-Kate and Ashley where you need to distinguish yourselves from each other. Yeah, we're very different and yet we clearly we have very similar passions. Watch the entire first season of House of Cards on Netflix.com