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Netflix‘s House of Cards might’ve been just as actor Robin Wright’s show as it was Kevin Spacey’s. So when Wright learned about the modest pay-gap between her and her co-star, she rectified the situation her way.

What Robin Wright warned she’d do if she didn’t make as much as her ‘House of Cards’ co-star

Robin Wright posing in a black suit at the season 6 screening of 'House of Cards'.
Robin Wright | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Wright was more than a little reluctant to star in the hit Netflix series House of Cards. She took a brief moratorium from acting to focus on her family life. When she returned to the film industry, she was offered the lead role opposite the Se7en star. But television wasn’t the medium she was interested in until producer David Fincher convinced her otherwise.

“But David said, ‘Trust me. This is going to be revolutionary. You will have 13 hours to tell your story, and people will have the choice to watch it whenever they choose,’” Wright recalled in an interview with Harvard Business Review. “I said, ‘But what about the part? She’s basically the governor’s arm candy, and it doesn’t really interest me to just be a politician’s wife.’ And he said, ‘No. We’re going to build this character together. She’ll ultimately become Lady Macbeth to his Richard III.” I trust him so much.”

Wright asserted that conversation was all it took to accept Fincher’s proposal. It turned out mostly all of Fincher’s predictions came true. House of Cards ended up being a smash hit, and is widely known as one of the shows that ushered in the streaming era. Wright’s character Claire Underwood also became more than just a supporting character for Kevin Spacey’s ruthless politician. She became an asset and a formidable foil who was every bit as the show’s lead as Spacey was.

Still, despite Claire Underwood’s own importance to the series, Wright discovered her salary was a bit lesser than her co-star’s. To close the pay gap, she quipped that she softly blackmailed Netflix.

“I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin.’ It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards,” Wright once said according to Marie Claire. “I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalized on it. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public.’ And they did.”

Robin Wright and ‘House of Cards’ shut down after Kevin Spacey’s allegations

Spacey’s career took a hit after the actor was accused of sexual assault. He lost several film projects and was eventually written off of House of Cards. This caused a dilemma for the series’ cast and crew. Without Spacey, they considered dropping the show completely without a proper resolution.

“Because the climate was so hot at that time, we shut down,” Wright said. “We took off almost two months and deliberated: ‘Should we resume or shut down permanently?’”

It was soon decided to resume the show for the sake of the fans and the series’ working crew members.

“We decided that we wanted to give the fans a close to the show and, equally important, keep our crew and actors employed. We couldn’t just pull the rug out and say, ‘I know you were paying for your kid’s college tuition, but sorry.’ To finish was the right thing to do,” Wright said.

Robin Wright felt no pressure being the lone lead in ‘House of Cards’


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Without Spacey, the Forrest Gump star found Claire Underwood as the focal point in House of Cards. But having already been used to leading the series, the only thing this change affected was her workload.

“It wasn’t really pressure. It was just more work. It flowed. It was like, ‘OK. Keep your strength, because you’re going to finish this puppy off.’ And ironically, the storyline didn’t shift that much, because we were always going to be separate in that last season,” she said.