Charlie Cox of "Marvel's Daredevil" | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, January 16th, 2021  

Charlie Cox of “Marvel’s Daredevil”

The Devil's Due

Apr 08, 2015 Photography by James Loveday Web Exclusive
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In the years since that first precarious gamble in 2008 of self-financing a feature-length movie adaption of Iron Man, comics titan Marvel has become one of the biggest box-office juggernauts working in today's film industry. Already in Phase Two of its multi-narrative movie universe, culminating in the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man this year, Marvel has also continued to expand its influence outside the theaters into the world of television. Its latest strategic move is the Netflix exclusive series Marvel's Daredevil, a dark, modern noir interpretation of Stan Lee and Bill Everett's famed blind crime-fighter. Portraying the series' titular vigilante is English actor Charlie Cox. Best known for roles in HBO's Boardwalk Empire and the recent Oscar-nominated Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, Cox is undoubtedly set to achieve breakthrough status with his morally tortured take on The Man Without Fear. "When I read the first two scripts they were so good and so well-written it was just a no-brainer," says Cox from his home in London. "There was no world in which I would not want to do this. Obviously there were elements that made me nervous. Because it's Marvel, even if it wasn't good, it's not just going to fade away. People are going to watch it and have opinions and it's going to reach a lot of people. That's a little intimidating, but it was one of those jobs where there's no way you don't do it, so I just took a little bit of solace in that and just thought, 'Alright, let's do everything we can to make it the best thing out there.'"

Mike Hilleary (Under the Radar): So how were you first introduced to the project?

Charlie Cox: I went to a casting director in New York and they had some fake pages which were not present in the actual show, and so I auditioned and put myself on tape with those scenes. Then I was asked to have a Skype session with [Executive Producer] Jeph Loeb about the project itself and he was able to tell me a little more about it and set up an opportunity where I was able to read the first two scripts. It was then at that point that I became invested. I read the scripts and was just blown away by them and thought, "Right, I would really, really, really love to do this." The email I sent to my agent said, "I'll play any part in this. Whatever part they're interested in me for I'll play that." And then I put, "But I want to play Matt Murdoch." And then I went into a kind of grueling screen testing phase where I flew to Los Angeles and did three or four sessions with them and read with various actors for different roles and we mixed and matched a bit and then I had to wait and cross my fingers.

That's quite an endurance test.

 Yeah, but I respect when people do it that way. You know they want to find the right people. Not just the right actors but the ones that work together well. That's always encouraging.

So what was your reaction when it was revealed you were auditioning for Marvel's next big project?

It had been rumored. But when I was reading those first fake pages a friend of mine was helping me learn the lines and he asked, "What is this?" and I said, "I think they're making a show called Daredevil" And we were practicing the lines, and he knew about [the character] Daredevil. I never heard about Daredevil. I hadn't Wikipedia-ed him yet. I was just reading the lines. And he said to me, "Isn't Daredevil blind?" And I said, "No, I don't think so. I think they would have told me if he was." And then I went on Wikipedia and I was like, "Shit, he's blind! I should probably take that into account when I do these scenes." So that was quite amusing.

So I take it you never had a big background in reading comic books growing up?

No, I did not. I didn't grow up reading comics. In England it's not as big a thing as in the U.S. There were a couple of comics I read over here that just pale in comparison in what Marvel does. They were called The Beano and The Dandy. I used to like them. But I was never an avid reader of those even. So throwing myself into the world of Marvel has been a whole interesting whirlwind.  

I bet they threw a bunch of material at you for research.

Yeah they gave me a Marvel Unlimited account so I've reading non-stop. I haven't ventured far away from Daredevil yet. When I was finally cast in the show I only had about a month before we started shooting so I just concentrated on Daredevil and read as many issues as I could and got familiar with writers and illustrators that I responded to and were most similar to the show. And it's been great. When you're preparing for any role, film or television, it's like you've got a never-ending supply of material to pore upon.

There's all sorts of story arcs they could be tapping into.

Yeah, and also physicality-wise, those panels are so specific. It was really fun to try and recreate some of those iconic images as we went along the journey.

So it's one thing for an actor to play a blind person. It's another for an actor to play a blind person who secretly has more awareness than anyone around him.

This is how I broke it down. Matt's eyes don't work, meaning there should never be a moment where Matt picks something up because he looks at it. And it's hard. Sometimes we had to shoot things over and over again to get it right. There should never be a moment where Matt picks something up because he looks at it. He doesn't see something and pick it up. If he needs to pick something up off the table his hands would pick it up. He doesn't find anything with his eyes as it were. So whenever I'm not wearing the mask or glasses it was really important that there remained this kind of deadness to his eyes. He can't look at people in the eyes. He looks in their general direction when he's talking with them. So that was something I kind of focused on. It is difficult because your eyes naturally try and focus, especially when you move. You can kind of de-focus your eyes when you're looking at someone. In terms of his mobility when he's on his own or he's with someone who knows about him and his secret he maneuvers and walks around as anyone would. He's completely aware of all the furniture and where things are. He can sense an entire room. He would never bump into anything. And then there's the manner in which he's in the presence of the majority of the world, where he has to uphold the illusion of being a visually impaired human being. So he has to find things with his hands, he has to trace the wall sometimes. And even within that there's an evolution. When we first see Matt in his office, he has just moved in so he would use his cane to get around the space. But once they've been there for a few weeks he wouldn't use his cane anymore. The guy that I worked with, who's been blind for 20 years, he doesn't use his cane in his own home. He knows where things are. So there were lots of different things at play in that regard.

Daredevil is very different from a lot of the other superheroes in the Marvel universe. What's your take on him and what do you want to bring to the character?

While again I'm not greatly familiar with all the other characters and my knowledge of them extends to the movies, my understanding is that the elements that make Daredevil a bit different fundamentally is that he's visually impaired. There's also his religion, his Catholicism, which is such a compelling element to bring into the series. He's a crime fighter, he's a vigilante, so he also believes in God and God's will and the order of things in that regard. So there's a lot of conflict there. And from what I've seen, having watched The Avengers and knowing a little bit about the characters of Thor and Captain America and Iron Man, with our show this is what we refer to as street-level crime. He's not trying to save the world. He's trying to save Hell's Kitchen, or he's trying to save the little girl at the end of the block who's being abused by her father or whatever it is. His scope is slightly smaller. He cares about the city and the people within it and his community. He's restricted in that regard. And when we meet Matt he's just beginning on that journey. He's been bottling it up. He's been training. He was trained under Stick when he was a boy and we know he's been maintaining some physical condition but he actually hasn't been doing anything about it. And what we see in this series we see him begin that journey and evolve into who we know as Daredevil.

While the show certainly has many great moments, one of things that really stands out is its approach to action, which at times can be quite brutal. One in particular is the long, single-take scene that takes place in the second episode. It's one of the coolest fight sequences I've seen in a while, in either film or television.

That was a really fun day. It was a nerve-wracking day. There were so many moving parts. It's one take. It was fun and it was optimistic but as the day went on and little mistakes occurred here and there we were like, "We gotta get it." I remember the last take that we did, the one where everything went to plan, I remember where we were getting close to the end and everything had gone so perfectly so far, it was agonizing to make sure we got through. And then at the end everyone cheered. It was a real bonding moment for the crew.

So I mean, obviously there are portions with stunt doubles, but how much is it you under the hood?

It depends on the scene. There are a couple episodes later on the series where there is a lot of me and I was very heavily involved for reasons that will become apparent when you see it, but I love all that stuff. I really enjoy it. It's sometimes my favorite aspect of the filmmaking process. You know I'm relatively athletic and I've always enjoyed the physical aspect of filmmaking. So I kind of said, "Look, I'd like to do as much I'm able to do." I also understand we're also trying to make a TV show and I have to stay healthy for eight months. And there are also a couple of things that Chris Brewster, my stunt double, does that I didn't even know human beings could do. But I got in there as much as I could. What we tended to do was Chris would do a big master of it and I would learn the pieces and we would go in and film the pieces as much as we could.

What was the training preparation like?

The first thing I had to do was bulk up. The early stuff I did was try and get as much muscle as I could in the time that we had. And then other than that, I worked with Chris and the stunt coordinator Phil Silvera and it was a lot of technique stuff. He's a trained martial artist so he was teaching me some training stuff, some technique stuff, poses, standing, kicks and punches. Matt Murdoch also would have been heavily influenced by his father so there would be a lot of boxing in there, the kind of hunched shoulders, the guard is always up. With as much time as we had, we did.

With what will hopefully be the start of a very success new addition to Marvel's cinematic universe, do you see any future involvement in a potential feature film?

 I mean, that's like a dream. I would love that. I have no idea if they have any intention of involving Daredevil and even if they do, involving me, but that would take this dream into a more crazy, crazy dream.

[Pick up Under the Radar's next print issue to read more from our interview with Charlie Cox and a whole separate article on Marvel's Daredevil.]

  

(www.netflix.com)

(www.marvel.com)



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February 6th 2019
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April 19th 2019
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