Robin Wright Almost Said No to House of Cards, Recalls ’80s Rivalry With Molly Ringwald

Robin Wright poses for June/July 2014 issue of Town & Country
Robin Wright almost did not sign on to play Claire Underwood in House of Cards; plus, details on her '80s rivalry with Molly Ringwald! Paul Wetherell

Imagine House of Cards without Robin Wright‘s portrayal of Claire Underwood. Wright, who smolders on the cover of Town & Country‘s June/July 2014 issue, told the mag that she nearly rejected the role of Kevin Spacey‘s wife on the smash Netflix series.

“Hollywood is difficult to navigate if you have integrity,” Wright, 48, explained. “So I opted not to work if there wasn’t enough to do in a role, which doesn’t have to do with the role’s size.” The actress said it’s this mentality that nearly prevented her from playing Claire, who she assumed was just another wife of a powerful man.

“If there’s nothing for me to do as an actress, that’s frustrating,” Wright explained. “I’d rather go work at a menial labor job, where I can actually get my hands dirty.”

Robin Wright - Town and Country
Paul Wetherell

It works well for Wright, who was practically woo’d by series’ executive producer David Fincher to tackle the role of ruthless politician’s wife. “David assured me that this would be a collaboration, that I could help create the character as we went along, that we would make discoveries together,” Wright said of her character.

The payoff, as it turns out, was worth it. “Kevin and Robin were our first choices—really, our only choices,” show creator Beau Willimon explained. “If he brings indomitable power, she brings intoxicating inscrutability.”

In her early years as an actress, Wright was not always the first choice—especially as she auditioned for John Hughes movies. “It was always down to the wire between me and Molly Ringwald,” Wright said, “and Molly always got the part.”

Robin Wright - Town and Country
Paul Wetherell

Though Ringwald went on to star in cult classic The Breakfast Club, Wright, for her part, nabbed the role of Buttercup in 1987’s The Princess Bride. “It was my first film experience, and so you might say that I fully immersed myself in the role,” she said with a laugh.

“I did not act. It was mostly telling myself, ‘Don’t be an idiot in front of Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest.'” The actress further mused, “And Cary [Elwes] was so good-looking. I was convinced we were going to be married, which was a revelation when I told him recently.”

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