Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil has become a smash hit in the two weeks since its release, and a second season has already been confirmed. We at AP2HYC have been binge-watching the show and you can find all our reviews here.
We were lucky enough to catch up with star Charlie Cox, who plays Matt Murdock/Daredevil on the show, and speak to him about everything from the action scenes, how he learned to act blind, and what moments he hopes to recreate from the comics!
Warning: minor spoilers ahead
Have you got a comic book pedigree or is this all new to you?
No, this is all very new to me. I now feel like I’ve had a crash course in the last year since I got the job. But I didn’t grow up on comic books at all.
How was it coming to it as research?
There was something quite nice about the fact that I didn’t have any preconceived ideas. I hadn’t grown up with Daredevil so I didn’t have an opinion on what the show should be like and who Matt Murdock should be. So what I was able to do was read the scripts and then go back to the back catalogue and find the different series and different writers and illustrators that best represented the show that was being written, so I could concentrate on them. I think that if I had grown up on Daredevil, I probably wouldn’t have cast me as Matt Murdock.
What was it like dealing with the fan opinions? Did you try to stay away from it?
My mum sent me one that she thought was quite amusing. Someone had blogged when they had cast me, “I don’t know who this guy is, but I don’t like his face.” I’m trying to impress my bosses rather than everyone else and hope that the fans concur with them when the show is released. You can’t please everyone, so you gotta do your best. The good news is the majority of fans seem to be pleased with the show.
Are there any iconic moments from the comics that you’d like to recreate, especially now that Season 2 has been confirmed?
I do, but I have to preface it by saying this is in no way a spoiler because they haven’t told me anything. But there’s loads. In the Bendis series there’s a wonderful few issues where Matt Murdock is defending the White Tiger. And the reason I really like that is because he’s defending a superhero, so he’s defending the White Tiger but he’s also defending himself. And I think that is just so thrilling on so many different levels. It’s also great to see a superhero in the court room giving a closing argument.
I don’t imagine this will be the case, but I love it when Spider-Man pops up. There’s one great [issue] where Matt Murdock has to defend Daredevil and so Peter Parker puts on his suit for him so he can sit in the docks. Other than that, I’d like Elektra turn up.
Did you have to relearn all your previous combat training for Daredevil because it’s so different from what you’ve learned?
It’s not that I had to relearn it, but I had to tie in with the kind of martial arts that my stunt double and the stunt coordinator had designed for this character. And a lot of it is just hand-to-hand combat. Just two guys – two or three guys, whatever – trying to knock each other out. And I love that it felt that kind of gritty and not every move is spectacular and amazing. But the difference is, every now and again Matt Murdock’s able to pull something off that the others can’t. And so obviously my stunt double did those moments. I did as much of the other stuff as I was allowed to do, which at times was quite a lot
How detailed were the scripts when it came to the fight scenes?
Very detailed. That scene in the end of episode 2 was written exactly as performed. Every camera angle was described, “the camera pans back, we rotate round to the left. We see a room full of Russians who are playing cards and watching television.” Very, very detailed.
In the penultimate episode, there’s quite a bit of parkour going on. Did you do that as well?
Yeah, I loved that. I did a bit of that. I really enjoyed that stuff. You know, again some of them I wasn’t allowed to do, for obvious reasons, but a lot of it I was able to do. It’s the one thing I’m quite confident at is the physical aspect of filmmaking. I’ve really always enjoyed that aspect. I grew up playing a lot of sport and I’m quite coordinated. The only danger with me is that sometimes I’ll push myself a bit too hard and end up not being safe, so that’s something I have to take into account.
Was it hard because through so much of the series, the upper part of your face was covered, either by sunglasses or a mask. Did you feel like you had to do all the acting with the lower part of your face?
I tend not to think about that because I think it would be a danger to act more because you’re aware that only your jaw is showing. Maybe that’s a mistake, I’m not sure. That was tricky. In the comics, when Matt Murdock or Daredevil is getting angry they do the gritted teeth, but there’s no way you could do that on a film set. It would be ludicrous. There are other ways to convey that.
Could you see through the mask?
Yes, you could. Not 20/20 vision, but you can see.
Was it easier to see through the mask or the sunglasses at night?
Well, luckily with the sunglasses we had different shades of them. So if it was a very bright sunny day, we had very dark ones, and if it was darker, we were in the office, there were lighter ones.
After fighting for the vast majority of it as the Masked Man, was it very different when you put on the red suit?
You feel more protected in the suit, much like I guess Daredevil would have done. You feel more protected – you’ve got the arm guards and the shin guards and the black bits are designed to protect vital organs. Plus you’ve got the helmet. So you feel a bit more ballsy, because the black vigilante suit is something that he would have bought on the internet and had shipped to the house. It’s just a running top and canvas trousers, and if you pay real attention in the first two episodes he wears that – just that – and then the third episode onwards he starts to put on shin guards, you know, that he finds that aren’t very protective but they’re something.
Is the suit heavier?
Yeah, but it’s pretty amazing how they make it. It was pretty comfortable and it wasn’t constricting in any way. Me and Chris [Brewster, Cox’s stunt double] were still able to do everything we wanted to do with it physically.
The one request I made was that the boots that came with it were too heavy and they weren’t… Cause I’d been so used to wearing these kind of running boots and they proved so helpful when you’re doing action sequences. So I went back and asked if there was anyway we could incorporate that kind of boot into the suit and they gave me some of these great boots that were light and you can jump and all that kind of stuff.
I know you worked with Joe Strechay to learn how to act blind for the role. Was there anything that surprised you about that experience?
A number of things. It’s surprising to me how difficult certain things are. So I spent a lot of time learning how to do household chores whilst wearing a blindfold so that when and if they presented themselves in the show, I would be accomplished at it. Of course, I would actually have the use of my eyes [on set] as long as it didn’t look like I was looking at anything. But just like, making a cup of tea. How do you pour boiling water into a mug and know when it’s full. There are little tiny things that are very, very tricky. I blindfolded myself and [Joe] and I went out into the street for a few hours and it was literally the blind leading the blind. And it was terrifying, absolutely terrifying at times. There were certain cross streets where I had no idea which way the traffic was going. And it felt like it was coming from all directions, I didn’t even know if I was on the pavement or not and it was really, really disconcerting.
The only other thing worth mentioning, from an acting point of view, it was very tricky. I underestimated how much you use your eyes as an actor. They’re such a vital tool. You can say one thing and mean something completely different just based on what your eyes are doing and I didn’t have that luxury. And also you feed off other actors, you draw emotion from other actors and I didn’t have that, nor did they because we’re not connecting on that level. But you have to find other ways and that was interesting.
How did you factor in the fact that Matt isn’t blind in the regular way?
Well, it’s tricky, because if you think about it, it makes it seem like Matt Murdock is the persona rather than Daredevil, because obviously he’s pretending while he’s Matt Murdock to operate as a blind person does. But at the same time there are reasons that he has a cane. We didn’t explore too much in our first season, but initially when Daredevil was written the cane doubled as a weapon. He also uses the tapping on the ground to create through vibration to create a sense of the world and the objects around him.
The most important thing was to recognise the different aspects [of the blindness]. So there’s Matt Murdock by himself or with Claire Temple who knows about him, which is someone who doesn’t use his eyes, but he can walk around the apartment and operate better than a sighted person. There’s Matt Murdock when he’s out in public or with Karen and Foggy, people who don’t know about him, and maintaining the illusion that he operates like a blind person. And then there’s also the vigilante aspect of it, when the glasses are off or the mask is up when you actually see his eyes. So I just had to make sure in every scene I went into I understood how he would be with the people he was with and just make sure there was a consistency to it.
There was a moment in the Ben Affleck movie which confused me – which I liked, by the way, I thought Ben Affleck did a wonderful job, I really enjoyed the movie, but ours is very different and both valid. But there’s a moment where he’s alone in the apartment and he traces the wall with his hand and I didn’t understand that, because he would only do that if he was maintaining the illusion that he’s blind and not when he’s on his own.
The cast was phenomenal in this and everyone gets a lot of screen time which is really nice to see as well. You don’t get to interact a lot with Vincent D’onofrio, but when it did happen, how was that?
He’s fantastic isn’t he? I remember when they told me they were casting him and I was like “Oh shit, they mean business.” Other than being the loveliest guy, very, very little acting required on my part because he’s an incredibly imposing figure. I remember when we were at Comic-Con and someone asked him a question on the panel about Wilson Fisk, and at this point I hadn’t worked with him yet, and he said “Wilson Fisk is a child and a monster.” And I remember the hairs on the back of my neck [stood up]. And I think he does that fantastically well. He makes him so human. We talked a lot early on about wanting to maintain this idea that there’s moral ambiguities with all the characters and you don’t necessarily know who’s in the right and wrong and who’s good and bad. And if you get that right, if you tread that path effectively, then it should feel more human and more relatable and I think he certainly achieved that wonderfully well.
If Wilson Fisk is a child and a monster, then who is Matt Murdock?
That’s a really good question. I don’t think that Matt Murdock or Daredevil has a dual personality. I think that in our first season, we see Matt Murdock evolve into Daredevil and start to embody that persona and understand it and come to grips with it and accept that side of himself, rather than it being an alter ego, per se. I think he learns to accept that side of himself. I think rather than being a child and a monster, I think he’s a lawyer and a vigilante and it’s very difficult to reconcile how those two things can coexist. One of the things that I liked that we explored a little bit is this idea that when he puts on this mask, his intentions are good, his intentions are to be a help to the people who need help and to make a difference in his city. The drawback is when he puts on the mask he can’t guarantee how far he’s gonna go and when he’s gonna finish and when he’s gonna get home and how beat up he’s gonna be. It’s almost like he goes into a blackout and all bets are off.
Is there an option on you if they decided to do a cross over with an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode or any other options?
Yes, many, many options. Yes. I am theirs for as long as they’ll have me basically. And happy to be, happy for it to be that way. I had a great time, you know. And I would love to keep doing it.
So they’re filming AKA Jessica Jones right now. Can we look forward to seeing you in that at all?
I don’t believe so. I think the idea is they’re trying to maintain some sort of [autonomy] to the four shows so that the coming together of us all in The Defenders is new and exciting. You can’t really make Jessica Jones without Luke Cage, so they have to involve him in Jessica Jones, but I don’t think I will be appearing in that show. I don’t know for sure.
There’s been talk of the Defenders eventually showing up in the movies, but a long way off, like in Infinity War. Is that something you’ve heard about at all or something you’re hoping will happen?
I’d love for Daredevil to be – and not just Daredevil, for me to be involved in it. Yeah, I’d love for that. I’d love for him to show up in the new Avengers and be in the cinematic universe as well. But right now I’m just so grateful to even be included at all so I’m looking forward to Defenders. If they end up making a Daredevil movie or a Defenders movie or they include the characters in those other Avenger movies, then that’s like an added bonus. An amazing added bonus, but at this point just a bonus to something that’s already so brilliant.
Do you think it’s difficult because Daredevil is very violent and the Marvel movies are not, do you think it’s difficult for younger fans who will want to get into every part of the Marvel universe, do you think it will be difficult for Daredevil to come in and bring all this violence with him?
That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. I mean, if you read Civil War, Daredevil is kind of in the background a lot and he just makes the odd comment here or there and he’s kind of very much a support character to the more famous Avengers. I think he maintains that kind of sinister quiet aloofness. He’s also not capable of the same feats as any of those guys are. So he’s not disillusioned in that way. He ends up kind of infiltrating the enemy in that series and being a key part of the whole resolution. But it’s done, not through violence, it’s done through tactic. I don’t imagine you would be able to bring the same violence literally on screen. It would have to be more insinuated.
Daredevil is out now on Netflix. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the show, so let us know in the comments or via Twitter!
Great interview! Really interesting regarding the process and approach to the character.