Corey Stoll on ‘House of Cards’, Playing Drunk and Working with David Fincher
Corey Stoll is sort of known for being a drunk…well, onscreen that is. After appearing as a smashed Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Stoll also mimics a sloshed person in Netflix’s new series, House of Cards.
“There are certain just sort of sense-memory things that you can do, and I don’t mean, like, remember what it’s like to be drunk, but things about balance and focus, making things harder for yourself,” he said in an interview with Vulture. “But then it’s about the resistance; it’s about trying to be as sober as you can be while the earth is shifting beneath you. And sometimes I’ll just spin around in a circle before a take. I don’t know if it’s a cheap trick.
“It doesn’t work for stage. Spinning around in a circle would only last for the length of the take, so you can’t just run offstage and spin around again.”
Either way, Stoll is earning acclaim for his role in the David Fincher series, playing sober or not. The actor wasn’t even given the whole script before being cast in the role of the alcoholic congressman, Peter Russo. “They didn’t have it written, but they knew the basic arc,” he said. “I read it on tape with the casting director and then when I met with Fincher. For me, in my experience, it’s not really a TV show, but it’s a very big long movie with a very distinct beginning, middle, and end. That’s sort of satisfying in a way that an open-ended character isn’t.”
The many twists and turns of Stoll’s character was one reason the script was so appealing to the actor (as well as the unique way that Netflix is offering every single episode of the series at once.) “The way I play the character…he really is somebody who lives very much in the moment,” Stoll mentioned. “He believes everything he says, he believes when he lies, and he really holds onto that. So when he convinces himself that he’s ready to run for governor, he really does convince himself, he really does believe it with his whole soul.”
Fincher is probably most known for directing films like Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He’s also been nominated for Best Director twice by the Academy Awards (for The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.) Fincher has a reputation for making his actors do crazy amounts of takes for one scene.
“It wasn’t that many takes, especially because he was working a lot faster by necessity,” Stoll said. “You lose track because he can get a lot more takes in during a day than a normal director can because he keeps the cameras rolling. So you’ll do a series of takes, and maybe you’ve done ten takes but it’s only one cut, and so you’re sort of living it. I think I read an interview where he said he’d done an average of fourteen takes, which is a lot.”
House of Cards is currently available through Netflix Streaming.