"House of Cards" in Harford

Kirsten and Kyle Johnson, of Forest Hill, play the First Daughter and First Son of the President of the United States in the new Netflix series "House of Cards," which premieres Friday night. Filming for the show is based in Harford County. (Photo courtesy of Amy Johnson, Homestead Publishing / January 31, 2013)

Check out the trailer of the new Netflix series "House of Cards" and in it you'll see the fictional President of the United States and his two children. In real life, the children are Forest Hill residents Kyle and Kirsten Johnson.

"They're not huge parts," as Kirsten, a sophomore at Bel Air High, says, but "we can definitely see ourselves."

The Johnsons are looking forward to Friday night's debut of "House of Cards," the Washington, D.C., political drama starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Much of the series was filmed in Harford County, where the series' main studio is located, and in Baltimore.

To see "House of Cards," you have to subscribe to Netflix at http://www.netflix.com. It's not available on conventional cable TV or satellite channels.


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While the first season debuts Friday, production crews are already getting ready for season two filming, which begins in the spring, Jack Gerbes, of the Maryland Film Office, said. That means more preparations and more casting calls.

Hundreds of people turned out at the Reckord Armory in Bel Air for two separate casting calls – in June and September – hoping to land extra parts in the first season.

Having "House of Cards" based in Harford County has been an economic boon for local businesses, as well as an opportunity for professionals in the entertainment industry, Gerbes said.

"Any time a film production of this size and scope comes to any specific area, it's going to generate a lot of revenue for local businesses," Gerbes, who lives in Forest Hill, said. "Then there's perhaps something you can't put finger on, the sense of excitement and pride being generated in the county."

Besides the Johnsons getting roles as the president's children and others from Harford being used as extras, Edgewood's Marvin Ruffin was hired as an assistant location manager and the City of Havre de Grace is featured prominently in the third episode, when Congressman Francis Underwood, played by Spacey, returns to his home town of Gaffney, S.C. Havre de Grace was used for the Gaffney scenes.

Acting bug

Kyle and Kirsten Johnson are interested in acting. Kirsten says she would like to pursue it full-time, and hopes to move to California after high school.

"I like to do it, and I'd like to get enough roles to make a living at it so I don't have to give it up because it's so much fun," Kirsten said. "I just like the actual idea of acting because I'm good at it and I like to do it. I think it's fun. It's cool to get to be someone else."

Most recently, Kirsten appeared on "America's Most Wanted," playing a 15-year-old prostitute.

"I got to re-enact a murder. I was a prostitute beaten to death with a baseball bat," she said.

Kyle, on the other hand, is considering a major in business management in college. He's narrowed his choices to five schools and is just waiting on letters back.

"I'm not as excited as [Kirsten] is to pursue her career," Kyle said. "I see it as something I could do on the side. She sees it as more of a career."

The siblings are represented by an agent, who suggested they try out for the role of the First Son and First Daughter in "House of Cards."

"We auditioned, they called us back and told us we got it," Kirsten said.

They're both excited to watch the premiere Friday night, and have already seen themselves on the trailer.

"We're very excited to watch it. It will be cool to see all the people we got to meet on television, because they were all so cool and all so nice," Kirsten said.