HOUSE OF CARDS’ Al Sapienza talks Emmy History with Cheryl

alsapienza-1The online CBS/AP announcement read “House of Cards Makes History.”

The Netflix series has set the bar, and it’s a high one.  It received a Best Drama Series nod at the  recently announced Emmy nominations.  The recognition single handedly flung the series into new territory, as it became the first online series to be nominated for this distinction.  With the nomination, it not only gave the distinction of putting online series on the map alongside network television shows, but it paved the way for online series achievements in television programming.

Ever since the announcement, I’ve had the urge to talk to my friend, Al Sapienza (Marty Spinella) and get his thoughts on this tremendous accomplishment for online series.  As usual, he didn’t disappoint.

So, just what did Sapienza think put House of Cards right there with the best of the nominations?  He said, “The first thing that made it stand out was its writing.  There’s no question.  It’s intelligent, and it’s current.  The second aspect would be the directing.  Look at the incredible directorial body of work of James Foley, Joel Schumacher, David Fincher, and Charles McDougall.  Then, there’s the producing – David Fincher and all those guys – great producers.”

I asked how he thought his character, Marty, had evolved since the beginning of the series.  He said, “Marty believed his 20-year friendship with Congressman Frank Underwood was sincere.  He works to keep his ego in check for the greater good.  Watching this friendship deteriorate, he gets a clearer vision of this Congressman.  And, it gets to a point where he’s just shocked at something that’s going to happen that’s so opposed to who he thought the Congressman really was.”

alsapienza-3Being part of such a talented cast, especially on a show with nine Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Actor in a Drama (Kevin Spacey), Outstanding Actress in a Drama (Robin Wright), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (David Fincher), has to affect  a person.  I wondered how it affected Sapienza.  He told me, “Being part of such creative involvement is fantastic.  As an actor, it gives you more confidence and more self-esteem.  It puts you in the center of the public eye for a little while as you attend the awards.  And, it gets you chicks.”  He laughs at this last remark.  “No, I’m only kidding.  I’m happily married.”

But, what is it about this series that has attracted so many fans?  Sapienza said, “It was just executed with such class in every way.  It also gave a look into the dark side of D.C.  And that dark side has always been there, I think.  Look at Watergate, before and during.  Look at Lee Harvey Oswald.  Was he alone in killing JFK?  I absolutely don’t think so.  And that’s another story.  But, I believe that the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world at the time, and one of the most charismatic and visionary figures of that era, was murdered.  I think there were absolutely government officials involved to some degree.  Absolutely.

“House of Cards shows the country that if Washington doesn’t operate in an ethical sense where public servants serve the public, we do not have a very long future.  I think people are so fed up with everything from the weather to the oil companies to the behavior of some of these schmucks.  Folks are hungry for this kind of project.  I also credit a lot of the reason for the show’s success to Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

“But, we could do nothing without the writers.  (House of Cards was conspicuously not nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category).  You never know with awards shows.  Sometimes, things like this happen, and it is unfortunate.”

al sSo, what’s “in the cards” for Sapienza?  Besides tossing around the idea of a couple of projects he’d love to do, he does have a few upcoming projects in the works.  He will have a recurring role in the CW’s remake of The Tomorrow People, which was just introduced at Comic-Con.

As we speak, he is in Toronto with Jack Black filming the comedy project, Bailout.  As soon as Bailout wraps, he will be headed to New York City, where he will film The Life, with Entourage star and producer Jerry Ferrara.

With House of Cards’ unprecedented Emmy nominations, Sapienza can, at least for the time being, bask in the glow of some well-deserved attention.

Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.