With the new Daredevil series picking up a lot of positive traction, press from across the UK were invited to London’s beautiful Corinthia Hotel to interview the man without fear himself, Charlie Cox. MCM Buzz were on hand to grab an intimate chat with Charlie.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
I remember you previously commenting on the role of Daredevil being given to a random English guy who didn’t grow up on comics.
Yeah, when I was auditioning for the role, and I was made aware they were interested in me for the part, I remember thinking that they were obviously open-minded about it, because I’m not your obvious choice, either physically or based on the fact that I come from London. So I thought, well, there’s no point in me trying to embody the Matt Murdoch from the early Daredevil runs where he’s a very large, tall, handsome, guy with wavy blonde-red hair. I thought I’d just bring my own take to it and hope that’s what they were looking for.
Why did you get the role then, do you think?
Obviously Marvel wanted to go in a different direction with Daredevil. They wanted to explore the idea of having a television show which is slightly more sinister, geared towards an older audience and dramatically and tonally more adult. I think along with that came the opportunity to cast someone slightly more against type. When I went into the auditions, I decided that my take would be to make the man without fear someone who’s actually very afraid, with ‘the man without fear’ title being something that the public have pinned on him from seeing what he does. What we actually see in the show is a man who is really struggling and battling with that, and hopefully that inner conflict around what he’s doing brings a real human element to the character, and makes things more engaging. It really works with Daredevil because he has no super powers.
With the opening scene in the confessional box, we see that a big part of Matt Murdoch’s personality is his Catholic guilt. Can you emphasize with that yourself?
Well, I’m Catholic myself, so I was able to draw upon that. I also had the opportunity a few years ago to play a Catholic priest who became a saint in a film called There Be Dragons, so I spent a lot of time investigating what it is to grow up in a monastery and live with priests for that.
Did you get educated through a Catholic system?
I went to schools where they had Catholic services, but not like the kind of schools that my father might’ve gone to. I’ve been going to church my whole life, and I have a kind of interesting relationship with my religion. I would probably describe myself as a kind of relaxed Catholic, but it’s really interesting from an acting point of view, the idea that this character believes in God, in the divine order and God’s will, but at the same time he’s kind of playing God, going out at night and engaging in vigilante justice.
Have any other characters informed your portrayal of Daredevil?
Well, that’s interesting. I remember Steven DeKnight said that the Matt Murdoch in our show is one bad day away from being The Punisher. So that was kind of helpful – reading some of The Punisher issues informed the character a little bit. We wanted to find someone who we sometimes describe as being a bit like an alcoholic: once he puts on the mask, he doesn’t know when he’s going to stop or how far he’s going to take it. He’s going out with the right intention, but he can’t guarantee that he won’t cross lines that he doesn’t want to cross. The very first fight scene ends with him pummelling Turk Barrett who’s clearly already out, and he can’t stop. There’s no one person that I drew upon that was like him.
Have you seen the 2003 Ben Affleck Daredevil film?
I have, yes. Honestly I quite enjoyed it. I think Ben Affleck did a great job as Matt Murdoch. If you isolate his performance, it’s bang on, but I think that the film suffers tonally. Maybe I’m completely wrong, but my opinion is that the show that we have made is tonally a better representation of some of the source material. Myself included, a lot of people really respond to the Bendis series, and our show is very heavily influenced by that series. I think Daredevil needs to exist in a more sinister world and needs to include very sophisticated, adult themes. Being on Netflix made us able to do that.
Did the fact that that film was slated ever give you second thoughts about the project?
Not really. As an actor, I’ve been lucky enough to be in work for quite a lot of my career, but I’ve also spent months and months unemployed looking for work. I’m not at a stage where, if I get offered a job like that, I can even consider whether I want to do it or not – it was just a no-brainer. It was potentially risky, but it was also a massive opportunity, so of course I had to take that risk. I’d also read the scripts, and I thought they were brilliant.
Netflix is now ready to make The Defenders, and a second season of Daredevil has been commissioned, which is another large risk for you, I suppose?
I suppose if it wasn’t well executed, if wasn’t very popular then there are potentially implications for that. For example, if you’re the lead of a show, and a show doesn’t work you have to take some of that responsibility, and other studios might think, “Well they gave him an opportunity to be the lead of a show and it didn’t work,” and you never get the chance to be the lead of a show again. There is burden that comes with it. It’s not always the case, though: you get people who get many chances, and eventually succeed after many failures. The other risk was if it was poorly executed but popular, which is also possible, and then you might be stuck doing it for five or six years and not feel very creatively fulfilled. You might not enjoy the work, or the writing, and that is important for me. I was lucky with this, because I thought the writing was spectacular right to the very end.
Do you worry that you might end up being typecast?
Honestly, not really. Partly because there are aspects of this role that are very different to me, the obvious things being the blindness, and being American. I hope that the industry would be open-minded enough to allow me to go on and play other roles. I’m lucky enough that I’m not 20, and this isn’t my first gig. I’ve already had jobs and played lots of different characters, so I’ve got that in the bank. I think that as an actor, you’ve got to back yourself. When a show eventually ends, and you’re not doing anything, you have to try to find something different. As an actor, your life is so uncertain, and your job prospects sometimes seems so far away, that the idea of being concerned about being typecast because the show you’re in is a success is kind of an odd way to look at it. I’m so grateful to have a job. So when people ask me, “Are you worried that you’re on a hit show?” I’m like, “No, it’s amazing, it’s a joy – it’s what I’ve always wanted!”
Are you excited about the fandom that’s going to come with the role, and people noticing you?
I’m excited about the idea that the fans appreciate the show. I mean, when you take something like this on, you do feel an immense responsibility to the fans, and particularly with Marvel fans. They’re real, hardcore fans, and these characters are incredibly important to so many people – Daredevil particularly so because he also appeals to people growing up with a physical disability and is someone who has faced great adversity and triumphed anyway. So I was very anxious about that, and hoped that the fans would be pleased with our adaptation. If I’m honest, I’m also quite a private person and I get a little nervous about the idea of great great fame. But that’s part of the job: you’ve got to be grown-up about it and understand it’s part of your life, and try to be a good role model, and be generous with your time and spirit with the many people that ask for your autograph or your photograph or whatever.
Although you said you were very private, do you mind shedding some light on yourself and your interests?
I’m a big football fan. I’m a big Arsenal fan, so I’m going to the match (Arsenal vs. Chelsea) which I’m very excited about. I don’t go to nightclubs – I’m not a drinker, or a party animal or anything like that. I like watching movies, and I hang out with my friends, go to football. I also like to travel and see the world, and of course I love acting. It’s hard, because fame sometimes is a by-product of success. As an actor, a little bit inside of you wants the recognition, because it’s evidence of success.
You must be interested in language because your American accent is fantastic. How do you pull that off?
It’s hard work, but I’m a perfectionist. I work really, really hard, and I still hear mistakes in it sometimes, so I’m already gearing up to start making it better for the next season. I take my job very very seriously. I’m living the dream and I hope that I continue to get to do it.
Daredevil season 1 is now available to watch on Netflix
Originally Published: MCM Buzz