Can Kevin Spacey Pull Off an Emmy Upset with ‘House of Cards’?
Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of the ruthless and manipulative politician Francis Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards has earned the accomplished actor his second nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in as many years. And Spacey won’t be alone, either: House of Cards picked up 13 Primetime Emmy Award nominations this year, including one for Spacey’s partner-in-crime Robin Wright, who earned a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her steely portrayal of Claire Underwood.
When Spacey was cast as Frank Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards in 2011, it was seen as a tipping point for television’s ascendence as a primary destination for film actors. No longer was TV a place where film actors past their prime would go to find work; now it was a place where actors could go to find the most compelling content in an entertainment landscape increasingly dominated by tentpole studio films. Additionally, Netflix took a $100 million gamble on House of Cards, believing that it could change the game entirely and become a premiere platform for original content. Now only a couple of years removed from that huge gamble, Netflix finds itself as one of the top destinations for original content with a growing empire of award-winning series.
For Spacey, House of Cards represented his first big foray into television since the late 1980s, when the actor was first making a name for himself on shows like L.A. Law and Wiseguy. Spacey’s film career would take off in the mid-’90s with roles in Seven, The Usual Suspects (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), and L.A. Confidential. But it was 1999′s American Beauty that would make Spacey one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood after he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Lester Burnham, a father with a midlife crisis of epic proportions.
But although he was armed with an Academy Award and considerable prestige as one of the most talented actors in the business, Spacey’s star seemed to dwindle in recent years despite a series of well-received roles in films like Beyond the Sea (which he also directed), Recount, and Casino Jack, not to mention his big-time casting as Lex Luthor in Superman Returns. Additionally, a series of stints in smaller independent films like Moon or Inseparable showed that he still had the talent but was perhaps shying away from the bigger Hollywood studios because he could. Now, with House of Cards becoming one of the most talked-about series due in large part to Spacey’s performance, his A-list status has arguably never been better.
All that being said, it would be shocking if Spacey went home with the Emmy this year, not because he isn’t deserving, but because the field is incredibly competitive. The early buzz all points to Matthew McConaughey taking home the award for his performance in True Detective, and if you bad to pick an actor for second place, it would likely go to Bryan Cranston, whose celebrated series Breaking Bad recently concluded to strong acclaim. Yet in a year like this, when we’re in the midst of TV’s “Golden Age,” simply being nominated is an honor, considering how many talented actors have been left by the wayside.
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