Robin Wright is Back and More "Machiavellian" Than Ever in Season 2 of Netflix's House of Cards

Plus, the lowdown on that "humiliating" hand-job scene

Photograph by Eric Ray Davidson. Styling by Sarah Schussheim. Hair by Paul Norton for Rowenta Beauty at Tracey Mattingly. Makeup by Tricia Sawyer. Suit by Jil Sander. Tank top by Derek Lam.

DETAILS: As Claire Underwood, the wife of Kevin Spacey's conniving congressman on House of Cards, you make Lady MacBeth look like a piker. Some call her fierce, some sadistic. What do you call her?

ROBIN WRIGHT: I liked the way [executive producer] David Fincher described her to me: strong, calculating, Machiavellian. He said, "You have to contain all of those adjectives in a marble bust." If Claire's moving or flailing, she loses her foundation. It's like martial arts—you have to keep your center solid or you'll be knocked over.

DETAILS: What do you think is the scariest part of the character?

ROBIN WRIGHT: There's a cadence to her speech—soothing but foreboding—that reminds me of a metronome. The clock is ticking, time is wasting, and if you don't do what Claire wants, you're gone.

DETAILS: In perhaps your most infamous scene so far, Claire gives her husband's dying bodyguard a hand job after he professes his love—while she explains her preference for more powerful men.

ROBIN WRIGHT: The most humiliating aspect of that scene was that she removed her hand just before he climaxes. Ha! Lesson learned, boys: Don't fuck with Claire!

DETAILS: You once referred to Hollywood as a mafia. which is more ruthless, Washington or L.A.?

ROBIN WRIGHT: After doing this show? D.C., you win!

DETAILS:You're 47, and Your fiancé, actor Ben Foster, is 33. Does it annoy you to be referred to as a cougar?


DETAILS: The word has come up.

ROBIN WRIGHT: You know, I deliberately don't read anything about myself for that reason.

DETAILS: Career cage match: The Plucky Princess Bride versus cunning Claire Underwood—Who wins?

ROBIN WRIGHT: My instinct is to say Claire, but you never know, right? We've seen a lot of young girls in Hollywood turn into beasts.

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