By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Like the conniving congressman he plays in Netflix's series "House of Cards," Kevin Spacey is keeping his cards close to his chest when he comes to the second season of the Emmy Award-winning political drama that premieres on Friday.
There will be surprises, promises the double Oscar winner, and insight into the marriage between his ruthless South Carolina Representative Francis Underwood and Robin Wright's Claire, his cool, calculating wife in the online-only series from the subscription video streaming service.
All 13 episodes of the acclaimed show that chronicles the rise of the power-hungry couple whose ambition seems to know no limits and also peers into the murky world of Washington politics will be immediately available on February 14.
"Some people think it is a marriage of convenience. Some people think it is true love," said Spacey, 54, who won a best actor Oscar for "American Beauty" in 2000 and picked up the supporting actor prize in 1996 for "The Usual Suspects."
"The season will expand on their relationship and go to places that may well be surprising," he told Reuters in an interview.
Underwood's hard-driving journalist lover Zoe Barnes, played by actress Kate Mara, gets closer to uncovering his secrets in the second season, and a new powerful female character, an ambitious Democratic congresswoman from California, joins the cast.
The debut of "House of Cards" made television history and established Netflix as a power player in original entertainment. The series won three Emmys last year, the first wins in major categories for a series delivered online.
New episodes could help Netflix add new subscribers to its fast-growing video streaming service that now boasts 44 million members worldwide. The company does not disclose viewership numbers.
The first season saw Underwood plotting and getting revenge after he was passed over for secretary of state by a new president he had helped to elect in the series directed by David Fincher ("Fight Club" and "Social Network"). In a twist for TV, Spacey talks directly to the camera to share his turpid thoughts with the audience.
Season two promises more of the same with plot twists and jaw-dropping surprises as the Underwoods continue their ascent in Washington, determined to thwart anyone who gets in their way regardless of the potential consequences.
"My job is to play the character as honestly as I possibly can and let the chips fall where they may," said Spacey.
LIKE A REALLY LONG MOVIE
Wright, who starred in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Moneyball," picked up a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Claire. Both Wright, 47, and Spacey also received Emmy nominations for their roles as the power spouses in the character-driven series.
"We are a union. We are team members, so we are going for the same goal and we have each other's back," Wright said about the couple's relationship.
"That is the strategy for any sports team. It's the art of war," she added.
Actress Molly Parker, 41, joins the cast as Jackie Sharp, a smart, ambitious, third-term congresswoman and a veteran of the Iraq war with a background in military intelligence.
"She has a past. She has some secrets," said Parker, adding she is part of the Underwoods' quest for power.
Although the actress, who appeared in the TV series "Six Feet Under" and "Deadwood," didn't have a lot of information when she was approached about appearing in the show, she was eager to be a part of it.
"'House of Cards' has a very Shakespearean quality," she said. "It is set in Washington, primarily because this is a place where there is a lot of power and money and whenever those things intersect, you have drama."
Apart from its critical acclaim and awards, the show based on a book and a BBC miniseries of the same name has changed how consumers view entertainment by making the entire season available online at once. Wright let slip last week that a third season has been ordered.
And although "House of Cards" is a series, Spacey said its lengthy, complicated storytelling with developing characters makes it seem more like shooting a long movie.
"It just doesn't feel like every episode is separate. It feels like we're on this journey and for us it is a very exciting journey," he said.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Mary Milliken and Phil Berlowitz)