‘House of Cards’ denied U.N. filming permission by Russia

On screen, Frank Underwood’s ambitions can’t be stopped. But he’s just a character in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and in real life, there is a limit to his power, as producers discovered this week when they were denied access to film in the United Nations Security Council chamber.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, producers of the series approached the 15 diplomats to film scenes for the show’s third season in the chamber when the council was not in session. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged the diplomats to approve the filming, but Russia’s Mikael Agasandyan responded via email just a half-hour before the deadline and denied the filmmakers’ request, saying that the room should be made available for emergencies.

French ambassador Gerard Araud told the Associated Press, “It’s disappointing for you, I guess, because you wanted to see the actors.... It’s reassuring because I think the actors would have seemed so much more elegant than we are, you know.”

But just because the show can’t film in the Security Council chamber doesn’t mean they can’t film other places around the building. Back in 2004, the Nicole Kidman-Sean Penn thriller “The Interpreter” was initially denied access to film in the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council chambers, but was eventually granted access.

In the series, adapted from the BBC series of the same name, Kevin Spacey plays Underwood, the ruthlessly ambitious Southern politican who rises from House majority whip to president of the United States. Robin Wright plays his equally coldblooded wife, who deals with Washington politics in her own way.


“House of Cards” was a breakthrough series for Netflix, becoming the first online-only program to ever earn Emmy nominations. It earned 14 in 2013, including one for outstanding drama series.

Filming for the show’s third season has been plagued with uncertainty, as the show’s Maryland filming status was up in the air earlier this year when the state’s Legislature failed to approve the tax incentives the show’s production company, Media Rights Captial, required. After threatening to abandon Maryland, the Legislature came up with a compromise with the production company and filming will continue this summer with the series expected to debut its third season on Netflix in early 2015.

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