Hundreds try to break into 'House of Cards' in Bel Air

A line for the casting call of "House of Cards" ends up outside after a large crowd shows up at the Bel Air Armory.
A line for the casting call of "House of Cards" ends up outside after a large crowd shows up at the Bel Air Armory. (Photo by Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff)

They came from near and far, dressed in their best outfits and holding their photos, all eager for a chance to be in a major show featuring Kevin Spacey.

The line of"House of Cards"hopefuls snaked out the door of the Bel Air Armory as the casting call for the show officially began at 3 p.m. Sunday.


"I would just be happy to be on set," Steven Lockwood, of Elkton, said while waiting outside after his turn was over. "Kevin Spacey would just be a plus."

The Netflix series was only looking for extras during the Bel Air casting call – a couple hundred of them – but the ad held out the possibility of being "considered for recurring or featured roles."


Casting agents for the politically-themed series was hoping to net younger "Hill staffers, aides, reporters," middle-aged "politicians, lobbyist[s], reporters" and "elegant Washington types."

They were also looking for "teenagers," to be played by anyone older than an actual teenager.

With the temperature snaking into the mid-90s, people had nevertheless lined up as much as 1 1/2 hours before the doors opened, Trish Heidenreich, Bel Air's economic development director, said.

Dagmar Wittmer, owner of Central Casting, reassured they would all have a part to play.


"There was a long line, so we opened half an hour earlier," she said with a big smile under a black baseball cap. "We are going to be using these people as we need them."

"They are a good-looking group of people," she added.

With the show being filmed in and around Harford County, Wittmer explained she preferred to use "all Baltimore people" – or Baltimore-area, as the case may be.

"It's a wonderful turnout," Wittmer said, also beaming about Bel Air. "It's such a wonderful town; I'm glad we came here."

Heidenreich had helped set up the event, and was providing water for those who had to wait in the heat.

She said the town was eager to help Central Casting any way they could.

"They are looking for about 300 people, so I wanted to get at least 500," Heidenreich said. "We are trying to accommodate what they need, and the county's worked really hard to get this production here."

"We tried to get the word out as much as we could. We did want to see a good turnout," she continued, adding the crowd was "pretty tame," without incidents or problems.

Those who came seemed to be from all walks of life and have a range of acting experience. They were processed fairly quickly, with those who did not bring a headshot allowed to get a picture, and being asked if they could return Thursday for the next step.

Some people, like Zach Gaus of Reading, Pa., had already been on screen.

Gaus said he has mostly acted in independent movies, but also portrayed Bob Dylan in "Men In Black 3." He said he just finished the lead role in an independent film called "I Give Up."

"I am an actor, so I have done all this before," Gaus said, smiling. "You never know what happens with these things."

He knew quite a bit about "House of Cards," and said he would enjoy being part of it.

"I like the plot of the show. This is something kind of different from what I am usually in," Gaus said, explaining he usually plays more "rugged"-looking characters.

"I thought it was something interesting and fun. I really like Kevin Spacey's work," he said.

Steven Lockwood, from Elkton, said he studied film at The Art Institute of Philadelphia and has been an extra on "The Dark Knight Rises."

"I never really acted too much before," he said. "I was always interested in film."

Phaedra Williams, of Pasadena, was also dressed for business as she came out of the Armory.

She had never acted before but hoped this could be the start of bigger things.

"I just tried out because I am looking for an acting career," she explained, adding she is glad the casting call was in Maryland and saying "House of Cards" would make sense for her.

"I think it fits my character type of, like, business," Williams said.

Others were not necessarily looking for a career, but liked the idea of being on screen.

Jeffrey White, of Abingdon, who was crisply dressed with black shades, said he saw the casting call on a commercial.

"I was at home watching TV, so I thought, hey, might as well try out," White said, adding he could see himself playing a lobbyist.

He admitted he did not know too much about the show, but another hopeful actor filled him in.

The open call, meanwhile, "wasn't too time-consuming," he said.

Joe Budzynski, of Joppa, said he retired from a state job two years ago and tried out "just for the heck of it, just something to do."

"I don't care about the money or anything," Budzynski explained.

Bel Air town commissioner Rob Reier, who was standing by Heidenreich, said he thought the casting call could only be good for the town.

"I think it's outstanding. Anytime we have an event like that where we can bring people in and showcase the town is really fantastic," Reier said.