Kevin Spacey plays Francis Underwood, a manipulative and scheming politician with his own agenda. He is a Democrat serving as the House Majority Whip in the United States House of Representatives where he represents South Carolina's 5th congressional district.
Kevin Spacey began is career in the theatre, making his Broadway debut in Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts". He quickly proved himself as an energetic and versatile performer, winning a Tony Award in 1991 for his turn as Uncle Louie in Neil Simon's Broadway hit "Lost in Yonkers".
Spacey's film career began modestly, with a small part as a subway thief in Heartburn (1986). Deemed more of a "character actor" than a "leading man", he stayed on the periphery in his next few films, but attracted attention for his turn as beady-eyed villain "Mel Profitt" on the TV series "Wiseguy" (1987). Profitt was the first in a long line of dark, manipulative characters that would eventually make Kevin Spacey a household name: he went on to play a sinister office manager in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), a sadistic Hollywood exec in Swimming with Sharks (1994), and, most famously, creepy, smooth-talking eyewitness Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects (1995).
The "Suspects" role earned Spacey an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and catapulted him into the limelight. That same year, he turned in another complex, eerie performance in David Fincher's thriller Se7en (1995). By now, the scripts were pouring in. After appearing in Al Pacino's Looking for Richard (1996), Spacey made his own directorial debut with Albino Alligator (1996), a low-key but well received hostage drama. He then jumped back into acting, winning critical accolades for his turns as flashy detective Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential (1997) and genteel, closeted murder suspect Jim Williams in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997). In October 1999, just four days after the dark suburban satire American Beauty (1999) opened in US theaters, Spacey received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Little did organizers know that his role in Beauty would turn out to be his biggest success yet - as Lester Burnham, a middle-aged corporate cog on the brink of psychological meltdown, he tapped into a funny, savage character that captured audiences' imaginations and earned him a Best Actor Oscar.
Spacey went on to star as the villainous Lex Luthor in the Bryan Singer-directed production, "Superman Returns", which opened in the summer of 2006. This was followed by "Fred Claus" (2007) and "21" (2007), as well as the TV film "Recount" (2008), which garnered critical acclaim. His portrayal of Ron Klain in the 2000 US presidential election earned him four nominations including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
The Oscar winning actor’s love for the theatre is believed to surpass his interest in making movies. In February 2003 Spacey made a major move back to the theatre. He was appointed Artistic Director of the new company set up to save the famous Old Vic theatre, The Old Vic Theatre Company. Although he did not undertake to stop appearing in movies altogether, he undertook to remain in this leading post for ten years, and to act in as well as to direct plays during that time. His first production, of which he was the director, was the September 2004 British premiere of the play Cloaca by Maria Goos. Spacey made his UK Shakespearean debut in the title role in Richard II in 2005.
On November 3, 2010, Kevin Spacey was named an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition for his work in theatre. Prince Charles presented the award at a private ceremony in his official London residence, Clarence House. The CBE is only given to foreign nationals in the case of exceptional service to Britain.