In 2003 the American actor shunned Hollywood to become artistic director at the British capital's Old Vic theatre and spent more than 10 years performing in plays including William Shakespeare's Richard III and Arthur Miller's Resurrection Blues.

Despite being a two-time Oscar winner when he moved to London, Kevin says his stage stint improved him so much as an actor that without it he could not have played amoral U.S. political leader Frank Underwood in the Netflix drama series.

"I decided to move to London really to improve as an actor," he tells Britain's Daily Express newspaper. "I couldn't have done the role (Frank Underwood) 10 years ago.

"Being on that stage made me develop as an actor, I have brought all the lessons from being in these different shows to my character on screen. Every night I was improving and learning from mistakes."

House of Cards has won numerous plaudits and awards since it debuted on screens in 2013, with Kevin scooping Golden Globe and Screen Actors' Guild prizes.

The series follows Frank as his underhand dealings see him rise from the position of U.S. congressman to become President, with its fourth series premiering last month (Mar16).

After the success of the American political drama, Kevin stepped down as Old Vic artistic director last year (15).

A collection of star-studded names gathered at the theatre last April to mark the end of his 11 year tenure, with British musicians Annie Lennox and Sting performing at the gala event hosted by Downton Abbey actor Hugh Bonneville.