04/10/2013 02:41 EDT

Kate Mara On 'House Of Cards' And What Makes Zoe Barnes Tick


It can't be easy to take on a role opposite big-screen juggernauts Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey, but Kate Mara is doing just that on Netflix's "House Of Cards."

As edgy, ballsy political reporter Zoe Barnes, Mara's character is constantly searching for that next scoop, no matter what the personal cost -- even if it means using sex as the ultimate persuasion. It's a testament to her acting ability that Zoe is still around; the character was killed off in the original British version of "House Of Cards" very early in the series.

HuffPost TV participated in a conference call with Mara, who filled in journalists on what it's like acting for an Internet TV show, Zoe's greatest weakness and biggest strength, and if there's anything she won't do for a scoop.

What differences are there in making a series for the Internet instead of for TV?

Kate Mara: I'd say the biggest difference between working with Netflix and working on a regular series is that they gave all creative control over to David Fincher and our writers and producers. They trusted the series in their hands, as did I and as did the other actors. That was a huge thing because it really did feel like we were making six movies in a row. I've never been a regular on a TV show before, but I've done a lot of arcs and recurring roles. The fact that it was on the Internet didn't really make a difference.

Did you watch the original British series at all?

I did not, I still have not watched the original. When I met with David Fincher about doing the show, I asked him if he thought I should watch it for any character references or if I should just have a fresh look on my character and on the series. And he said the purpose was not to do a remake of a show. Our "House Of Cards" is a completely new look. I was glad that he said that, because it can be hard to watch somebody else who's played a similar character to yours and I didn't want to be affected in any way. Maybe when the series is completely finished, whenever that may be, I can go back and watch it and see how it compares.

Where would you like to see Zoe go in Season 2?

Well, I can't really answer that because I already know where she's going next. But I will say that Zoe had so many amazing scenes with Kevin [Spacey] and Robin [Wright] that were like an actor's dream. I would love it if Claire and Zoe could have some sort of showdown in Season 2 -- I'd love to have more scenes with her. But, you know, I'm pretty happy with the way Season 1 went, and the incredible scenes I got to play with Kevin. So I'm happy if it just stays that way.

Do you think there's anywhere that Zoe won't go for the story? Do you think there's a line she won't cross?

I think, as the season unfolded, she started to realize her actions had bigger consequences than she thought. As the season started to come to an end, I feel like you could see Zoe pulling back and becoming more aware of how toxic this relationship was with Francis. While I do think she will do almost anything to get ahead and to succeed in her own ways, I think that she definitely is becoming more aware of her own morals and what they mean for her.

What do you think Zoe's biggest weakness/flaw is, and also on the flip side, what is her biggest strength?

I know her greatest strength is the power of manipulation. I think she's really very clever at that. I think throughout the series she goes back and forth between looking super-confident and like she can control, and then the next minute it looks like she's being taken advantage of. But I think most of the time she's completely aware of letting Francis take advantage of her, because she's doing it in order to achieve certain things and certain emotions from him and it's really just a big power play. It's rare that she actually uses control or is unaware of what's actually going on. One of her biggest weaknesses is it doesn't seem as though she really thinks that much before acting out these big plans.

She shows us this at Francis' door in that first episode. Obviously she thinks about it, but it's so instant with her, and maybe if maybe she put a little more thought into it, she wouldn't necessarily be where she is toward the end of the season.

You can stream "House Of Cards" at any time on Netflix.

For HuffPost TV's recaps of "House Of Cards," click here.

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