Based on the classic novel and adapted by Beau Willimon (The Ides of March), House of Cards stars Spacey as the ruthlessly ambitious politician Francis 'Frank' Underwood and the 13-part first season - which also boasts David Fincher as director and exec producer - will be released in its entirety via Netflix on February 1.
Spacey spoke to journalists about the ongoing project, working with the "obsessed" Fincher and his "diabolical and delicious" character...
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Do you see your character Francis as a villain?
"I think he's diabolical and delicious. My mum loved the original series and when I saw that, I thought it was just delicious and really fun - knowing that it was based on Richard III and Iago… I think some of those things are inherent in his characteristics.
"As we've been working on it - shaping it and moving in different directions - using the British series as a launching pad, we're going to go off in all kinds of different directions.
"But it's always hard for me to label a character - I don't know how to play 'villainy'. You just play what a writer writes, in terms of what a character chooses to do and how a character chooses to deal with their various relationships. You can say he's a villain, if you want!"
How was the experience of working with David Fincher on this series?
"It's sublime, partly because he's such a perfectionist and I like being pushed and being challenged. David is known for doing lots and lots of takes and I've now realised he's just beating the acting out of you - he's just getting rid of all that f**king s**t you bring and distilling it down to its simplest, purest way of telling the story.
"He's also one of the few filmmakers who's worked in nearly every department on a film, so he knows it all and understands every aspect. So he demands the best from everyone in every department - not just the actors.
"There's an efficiency and shorthand he and I have… and I just trust him. When David Fincher gets obsessed with something, [that means] it's really good and he's f**king obsessed by this series!
"Even though he just directed the first two, he's been our overall guru [as executive producer]. Although we've had other wonderful directors, stylistically everyone's within the same wheelhouse - no-one's making it look or feel different than what he established in those first two episodes."
[Above: The cast and crew of 'House of Cards' at the show's London premiere]
Did you base Francis Underwood on any real politicians?
"No, I'm not basing the character on anybody, because [House of Cards author] Michael Dobbs and Beau have done such a brilliant job in terms of laying out his characteristics. But I will say that it's interesting now how certain politicians who, at the time, had reputations for being ruthless or being bastards… Lyndon Johnson is a perfect example.
"Now all the books that come out about Johnson are re-examining him and people are saying, 'He was a bastard and he was diabolical, but he f**king got things done' - he passed three Civil Rights bills in a very short Presidency.
"So I think it'll be very interesting for an American audience who has sat through the most non-productive Congress in the history of the United States - they pass less bills than any Congress in history - to watch a fictional show where some bills actually get passed!"
Why was now the right time for you to commit to an ongoing series?
"It's not the first time I've been offered TV - and it's not the first time David's been offered TV - but for whatever reason, we both waited. Whether that was because maybe we were nervous about the confines of some kind of television… but it seemed like this was the right moment for us to jump into it.
"Netflix stepped up and outbid everybody and said, 'We believe in you guys - you don't have to audition and do a pilot, go do 26 episodes' - so we were like... f**k, okay, that's pretty awesome!"
Have you ever met anyone like Francis working in Hollywood?
"I've been really lucky in that I haven't really encountered a lot of the f**king crazy people that you hear about. Every now and then, you get arrogance and ego from talent or maybe a director, but I've been really fortunate that most of the collaborators I've had have been really incredible to work with and I've been really blessed to do films that I think will last the test of time."
Watch the trailer for House of Cards below:
What do you think is the appeal of political drama?
"I don't know why people dig it. Whether it's Veep or Homeland or The West Wing - which is a more idealised version of democracy - people are fascinated by politics. I think people are [particularly] fascinated by American politics - it's fertile ground, it's very interesting to explore."
What are your thoughts on the first season of House of Cards being released online and all at once?
"It seems to be the direction it's going in. When I ask my friends what they did with their weekend, they say, 'Oh, I stayed in and watched three seasons of Breaking Bad' or it's two seasons of Game of Thrones.
For whatever reason, people are consuming large chunks of story - they're getting really involved in big arcs. Releasing it all at once - that I think is really interesting, for a couple of reasons. This is now the first series that will ever give out the entire first season in one day - maybe it's an indication that the film and television industry is learning the lesson that the music industry didn't learn."
Your tenure as artistic director of London's Old Vic will soon come to an end - what's next for you?
"I don't know. At the moment, House of Cards is heading into its second season and we don't know whether there'll be a third season yet. But we're open to it, so we'll see!"
House of Cards will be available to watch in full exclusively on Netflix from Friday, February 1.