Fincher stated that every main cast member was their first choice. In the first read through, he said "I want everybody here to know that you represent our first choice - each actor here represents our first choice for these characters. So do not fuck this up."
Production was based in a 300,000+ sq. ft. warehouse in the fashion industrial district in Joppa, MD. The set is actually part of an older Macy's distribution center, and all the driving scenes were performed in a green screen room, which served as a refrigerator for fur coats. Inside the building the following sets can be found: Oval Office, the Underwood home (upper lower and main levels), House of Representatives, various state representative's offices, South Carolina governor's office, various plush hotel suites.
Production of this original Netflix series is quite unique for the extraordinary creative freedom permitted filmmakers to write/direct/produce without undue supervision or second-guessing, major factor that drew Oscar nominees like David Fincher to the project.
David Fincher offered the role of Claire Underwood directly to Robin Wright, with whom he had just worked on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). He convinced her by promising she would have input in the creation of the character.
In 2015, Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich launched his campaign to become Missouri's Republican gubernatorial candidate with a speech exposing what he characterized as corruption among the state's Republican Party establishment. That establishment responded with a subtle and not-so-subtle smear campaign against Schweich; tactics included spreading the (incorrect) rumor that Schweich was Jewish and airing an advertisement in the style of "House of Cards," complete with narration by a southern-accented Kevin Spacey sound-alike that smeared Schweich's character, called him "a weak candidate for governor," and sneered that "he could be easily confused for the deputy sheriff of Mayberry." Not long after this smear campaign started, Schweich committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot. After Schweich's suicide, his campaign's media director, Robert "Spence" Jackson, again denounced the corruption in the state Republican Party that he said was partly to blame for Schweich's death; about a month after that, Jackson also committed suicide.
Robin Wright revealed on a recent interview (May 2016) that when she found out she was getting paid less than Kevin Spacey, she somewhat channelized her character of Claire and threatened the producers of going public with the salary injustice if they didn't fix it.
In May 2015, the Kansas City Star reported that Missouri House Speaker John Diehl, a 49-year-old conservative Republican with a wife and three sons who ran on a platform of "family values," had been engaging in an exchange of sexually explicit text messages with a House intern who was a college freshman. Various sources also reported that the intern saved Diehl's number in her phone's contact list under the name "Frank Underwood."
In February 2016, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., started displaying a painting of Kevin Spacey by the British artist Jonathan Yeo. Although the NPG often exhibits portraits of actors (among other prominent Americans), the gallery is also well-known for its portraits of the U.S. presidents and bills itself as "the nation's only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House." In that vein, several sources (including Vulture and the official twitter feeds for both the TV show House of Cards and the National Portrait Gallery) reported on this new portrait as though it were actually a painting of President Frank Underwood instead of the actor who portrays him.
The sound that Frank's ring makes when he bangs his fist against the desk at the very end of the Season 2 Finale is part of the small musical sound effect that now plays during the Netflix logo in front all of their Original Series, Films, and Specials.
In Season 4 Claire Underwood uses her maiden name, referring to herself as 'Claire Hale Underwood'. This is very similar to Hillary Clinton who used her maiden name 'Hillary Rodham Clinton' for a large section of her career.
Most of the characters incorrectly pronounce Xander Feng's family name as "Fang". Only Raymond Tusk pronounces it correctly as "Fung" which makes sense since he is the only western character who speaks Chinese. "Xander", however, would not be his given Chinese name, but it is common for Chinese people to select western names.
During a meeting with Peter Russo, Francis Underwood offers him a drink. Peter accepts the drink and asks Francis if he is going to have one, to which Francis responds that it is too early to be drinking. Kevin Spacey also plays Dave Harkin in Horrible Bosses, where he does the same thing to Jason Bateman's character.
More than a few cast members were cast previously in David Fincher films: Kevin Spacey (Se7en) Robin Wright (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) Mahershala Ali (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Kate Mara's sister, Rooney (TGWtDT) Joel Kinnaman (TGWtDT) Kim Dickens (Gone Girl)
The "king of barbecue", Freddy, portrayed by Reg E. Cathey has appeared in a recurring role in four of the five television series that are or have been filmed in Baltimore, Maryland. Besides House of Cards he has appeared in Homicide: Life on the Street (1993), The Corner (2000), and The Wire (2002). The only show that he has not been part of is Veep (2012).
The first four seasons were released on Fridays late in February or early in March. The premiere date for season 5 was delayed until May 30 by Netflix as announced on Pres. Trump's Inauguration Day, Jan 20; 2017.
The first Congressional Democratic Party Whip (Frank's position) in U.S. history also had the surname Underwood, and also hailed from a Southern state: Oscar Underwood of Alabama, in 1889. Also, the U.S. Senate's first Democratic Whip, John Worth Kern, had the same surname of the character selected for Secretary of State over Frank.
Lead characters in British and American versions share the same first name, Francis. While the American surname Underwood has a similar meaning to the British protagonist Urquhart's surname, which has been translated from Gaelic as "near the thicket."
Michael Kelly (Doug Stamper), Jimmi Simpson (Gavin Orsay), Elizabeth Marvel (Heather Dunbar), Sebastian Arcelus (Lucas Goodwin), Reg E. Cathey (Freddy), Boris McGiver (Tom Hammerschmidt) and Al Sapienza (Marty Spinella) also play important roles in "Person of Interest": Mark Snow, Logan Pierce, Alicia Corwin, Matthews, Davidson, George Hersh and Detective Raymond Terney respectively.
The elaborate time-lapse sequence that opens each episode in Washington DC's District 7 was generated by esteemed photographer Andrew Geraci. The whole process took almost 6 month to produce over 120 individual shots amounting to more than 6TB worth of imagery. Cameras used included Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III in conjunction with "Dynamic Perception Stage Zero" motion control rigs.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Kate Mara was told from the beginning that Zoe was going to die eventually, but to keep the secrecy before the second season premiere, Mara couldn't tell anyone that she wasn't part of the show anymore, so she would lie when someone asked how was the shooting going.
Members of the Russian punk rock/political activist group Pussy Riot have a cameo appearance in the third season, protesting (fictional) Russian President Viktor Petrov. In real life, the group has protested the actual Russian president, Vladmir Putin, with whom Petrov shares the initials "VP".
Initially, Season 6 was slated to star both Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey and was to contain 13 episodes, similar to the previous 5 seasons. However, after two episodes had been shot, Kevin Spacey was fired from the show following multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him. For a while, a full on cancellation of the show was considered. However, after meetings and an extended hiatus, it was announced that Season 6 would be 8 episodes and would only star Robin Wright with no involvement from Spacey.
Both House of Cards and The West Wing (1999) are TV shows about Democratic presidential administrations. Each also feature a White House Chief of Staff who is a recovering alcoholic, and an assassination attempt on the president.