Our own Andy Burns had the opportunity to sit in on an interview this week with actor Charlie Cox. The actor has been in “Boardwalk Empire” and “Downton Abbey,” but he’s best known for his portrayal as Matt Murdock in “Marvel’s Daredevil” on Netflix. The highly anticipated second season begins tomorrow on Netflix. Meet me after the jump for the highlights of this enlightening interview with a modern day superhero.
The first interviewer asked, who had seen the first seven episodes of the second series, how Charlie Cox would describe Daredevil’s moral journey when dealing with other vigilantes like Elektra and the Punisher who do not share his moral code?
Charlie Cox: When Matt Murdock first meets Frank Castle, it’s very easy for him to pigeonhole him in the same way he did Wilson Fisk in Season One. I think that what happens very quickly after that he has to consider another possibility which is that these two people are actually cut from the same cloth, that they are much more similar than they are different, which of course is mentally painful for Matt, an incredibly scary prospect, and as the season continues and he struggles with this idea, that not only is he similar to the kind of man who’s causing the killing people, etc. etc., that he himself is responsible for the emergence of people like Frank Castle. That’s a pretty tough emotional journey that he has to go through.
The interviewer then asked, even though Daredevil isn’t part of it, what team would Daredevil be on in Civil War, Iron Man or Captain America?
Charlie Cox: I don’t really know the answer to that question. I did read Civil War but it was a while ago. My memory tells me that Daredevil was on the side of team Cap. I can’t remember why I think that, and I may be wrong. The answer I’ve been given is team Cap, but it’s hard to know without seeing the film.
A second interviewer asked how Charlie thought the character of Daredevil is different at the start of season two compared to where we left him in season one.
Charlie Cox: Between the seasons is a six-month period, at which Daredevil has been functioning at his best. I think Matt and Daredevil have experienced a period of time in which everything has been going really well. Wilson Fisk is behind bars, the crime rate has plummeted, because everyone is aware of Daredevil and his work, and he’s keeping tabs on the city in a very ambitious fashion. And so what that’s done to Matt the character is he’s grown competent, he’s more self-assured, and I think there’s a swagger and arrogance to him now.
When I read the first episode of season two, at the end of the opening credits sequence, it’s specifically said in the writing that there’s a smile on his face. I remember thinking this is the Matt Murdock we’re meeting now. We’re meeting a Matt Murdock who’s enjoying being Daredevil more than he has, and probably believing he’s nailed it, he’s figured it out, he’s found the happy medium, and things will only get better from here on out.
The third interviewer brought up that Daredevil was actually in prison during the Civil War story, and that Danny Rand, Iron Fist, was posing as Daredevil. He was also excited that Elektra’s story was being told, and asked how excited Charlie was that this segment of the character’s life was being presented.
Charlie Cox: I was very excited. It was hard for me to know what the storyline would actually be but I knew it would throw a spanner into Matt and Karen’s romance. It has really been on the cogs since the beginning of the show. I assumed there was going to be a confused love triangle between the three characters… and I think that’s almost always compelling to watch, as long as it’s handled sophicatedly. It all is kind of interesting, and it’s fun as an actor to play with those emotions, and feel pulled between two people, feel very close to one person one time, and turn a corner and you feel very differently. I assumed as well it would change a lot of the fight sequences. Matt would have some help in some of his Daredevil endeavors. I think in just what the show has to offer we needed to throw something else into the mix, to spice up the action sequences.
The next interviewer inquired about the new armored Daredevil suit and if it was cumbersome in the fight sequences.
Charlie Cox: Actually it wasn’t that bad. You’re never going to be able to recreate the loose comfortable combat pants and black Nike running top we had in the first season. That’s kind of as good as it gets in terms of maneuverability and freedom to do all the action stuff. Having said that, the (new) suit is incredibly accommodating in that area. And obviously modifications were made throughout to make sure it was as accommodating as it needed to be. There were a couple of things the first season that weren’t quite working right with the suit. The … that were on my wrists and forearms and on my calf were getting in the way, and pinching a little bit, and making it hard for me to do certain things. As well as my stunt double Chris Brewster, he had similar sort of problems. We did away with them, and had an upgrade of the suit, with the helmet and cowl. We also turned the bottom half of the suit into a combat style baggier situation. All in all, I found it very very easy, and the nice thing about it is it is in fact more protective. There are kneepads that are built into it. It’s protecting certain joints and muscles, and stuff like that so when I have to take a fall it actually protects me more than the other one.
Next, saving the best for next, our own Andy Burns stepped forward.
Andy Burns: We’re seeing the pushing of limits with superhero characters – the first season of Daredevil was so gritty and real, then there’s the Deadpool movie with its over the top violence, and now there’s the talk of rated R movies or versions for Superman/Batman and Wolverine. Do you think fans and parents of kids who love super heroes have any cause for concern that the genre could swing to far towards an adult direction at the expense of a younger audience?
Charlie Cox: The only thing I would say is it does feel to me that there are certain characters that lend themselves to an R rating better than others. I may be very wrong about this, and there are comic book fans out there who feel differently than me, but I don’t imagine that Spider-Man would work so well in an R rated film or TV show. I think that part of his appeal is to a younger audience. He has the kind of playfulness that other characters don’t. The reason that I think Daredevil works so well as a PG-16 or an R rated, or whatever we like to call it, is because it suits the source material that is most beloved, and talked about, and remembered. I’m thinking of course of Miller’s The Man Without Fear, Born Again, obviously the Bendis/Maleev run, and the Brubaker/Lark stuff. All that stuff definitely seems to be geared toward a slightly older audience in the comics and therefore translated well to the TV show when the tone is maintained.
The other thing worth mentioning is the one thing that I have learned in the last couple years from meetings with fans is that you don’t seem to become a comic book fan when you hit a certain age. I have met so many fans who grew up with Daredevil in the seventies and eighties who continue to be fans into their thirties, forties, and fifties. It is nice to have a comic book adaptation that is geared toward slightly older fans.
Another interviewer who had seen some of season two commented that the scene where Matt goes deaf opens up a new world of fear for him. He asked Charlie what it was like to film it, and what emotions it triggered for Matt.
Charlie Cox: It was actually quite tricky to film. The first sequence where it happened in Matt’s apartment, I had a lot of conversations with Phil Abraham and the writers to try and make sure I understood just exactly was happening. It was all done in a series of montages, and there was no dialogue, so we really couldn’t explain in the way that it could be explained on the page. The way that I interpreted it is he loses his hearing, and I think that all of his heightened senses are diminished in that moment. I think what has happened is that the shot to the head has affected all of Matt Murdock’s heightened senses and abilities. It’s probably thrown off his sense of balance, certainly his hearing and sense of smell. Everything that Matt uses to function to the level that he does. It was quite hard to show that.
Most of that was done in sound design, so we were relying on the post-production team to really try to sell it. The way that I like to think about it when we shot it, it’s probably the most scared he’s ever been, and it probably reminded him of the brief few minutes or hours right after the accident when he was nine years old before his senses began to develop and those first few weeks when he didn’t have control over them. He probably felt very very alone, very very frightened and completely helpless, which is something that Matt very rarely feels. And the only thing he knows to do in that moment is to calm his mind, to go into some sort of meditation, which is what Stick taught him, which ultimately allows him to regain control over himself.
The last interviewer asked about an amazing one-shot action sequence in episode three, which upped the ante from the famous hallway fight in season one.
Charlie Cox: What we liked about filming that scene was that it was exactly a year on from the first one, the sequence you referenced from season one. When you shot that first scene at the end of episode two of season one, I was very new to the show, I was new to the character, I was still learning a lot, so I wasn’t able to do as much of it as I had wanted to. It was only over the course as the season progressed that I was able to pick up more moves and get better at the martial arts and do more of the action sequences.
So it was nice that this came a year later, and I’m much more comfortable doing that stuff. It was really nice to get more involved than I did earlier on in season one. You know I read it in the script and I remember thinking it was a tall order, and we’re going to pay homage to the scene in episode two of season one, is that something we should even attempt or should we just let it be. There’s a lot of reservations but I have full trust in Phil Abraham and Chris Brewster, they just really are the best in the trade. It was hard because it was the first major major long fight scene in the suit, and it was very very hot. We shot it in July, very early August, very hot in New York, and the suit was very very hot. It was probably like two and a half, three-day shoot.
I don’t know if you remember but it begins with me carrying Jon Bernthal, and I’m holding him, I’m carrying him over my shoulder for about a minute to a minute and a half, before the scene even starts, and I gotta tell you, that guy is heavy. He is pure muscle. Before I even started a punch or a kick, I was already sweating through my suit. I remember that one. But it was great, it was really really fun, the shot was a challenge, even for the camera operator because most of it takes place in a stairwell. That was very challenging and tricky. It was one of my great memories of season two. It is probably the thing I’m most excited about that I’m in.
Thank you to Charlie Cox and to Andy Burns. Season Two of “Marvel’s Daredevil” begins tomorrow on Netflix. Don’t miss it!