The (dare)devil in the details
The unexpected success of Netflix's Daredevil has catapulted actor Charlie Cox into the limelight. Playing the lawyer-by-day-vigilante-by-night the British actor has not only established himself as a leading man (and action star!), but it has inserted himself into the Marvel universe, in which even bigger things await.
ESQ: Does standing on top of buildings looking like a badass ever get tiring?
Charlie Cox: When I first got the role, I wanted to do avoid doing things that fell into stereotypical superhero cliché. Although, having said that, when you’re in a costume and standing on a rooftop overlooking a city, it’s almost impossible not to puff out your chest and clench your jaw! Your ego does enjoy it a bit.
How good would you be at fighting crime?
Absolutely terrible! Do you remember that [British TV] show At home with the Eubanks? I remember one episode where Chris Eubank made a citizen’s arrest, and it worked because he’s a former boxing champ so you wouldn’t want to mess with him. I imagine if I did the same thing, it would go horribly wrong!
Is the biggest challenge in playing Matt Murdock/Daredevil the fact that he is blind?
Yeah, it is. What I found out was just how much emotional acting is transmitted through your eyes. Your eyes play such an important part in portraying emotion or reacting to other people’s emotions. Playing a blind character means that you have to have a deadness to your eyes and avoid having eye contact with people. Then, of course, there’s the practical side of things, picking something up or doing a tie without looking at whatever you’re doing.
Do you do scenes with your eyes open or closed?
Open. When I do scenes without my glasses they have to be open, just without seeing through them, if that makes sense. It can be a bit of a struggle.
Did you have to practice at home in the shower?
I used to, but I’m in the habit of it now. When I was preparing for the role, I did all the time. Doing household chores, or making breakfast without looking at anything. I used to film myself doing it to work out what was going to work the best. The tricks of the trade, things like that.
ESQ: You must be pretty good at acting hurt...
Cox: Haha! I’m pretty good at getting hurt too!
Where you surprised by how well the show was received?
Yeah, I really was. Because Netflix doesn’t release its numbers, we’re never really sure how it has done, but people seem to be overwhelmed by the response. I’m not on social media, but I’ve heard that fans are really pleased with the show. Doing something like this is always a huge gamble, and I don’t think there’s a formula for success. The writing was fantastic, we tried to add a sense of reality to the characters and sometimes it just works. Netflix allowed it to be different, they allowed it to be a sophisticated superhero show.
Is it true that you’re not really a superhero fan?
I didn’t grow up reading comics, but I’ve watched all the Marvel films, as I had friends who play the superheroes. I always envied how fun and exciting it looked. You get to act, but then you also get to jump off roofs looking badass! I didn’t think there was going to be an opportunity for me to play a superhero, so I was pretty shocked when it came about.
Throughout both Season 1 and 2, Daredevil gets the s*** kicked out of him, a lot. You must be pretty good at acting hurt…
Haha! I’m pretty good at getting hurt too! Things don’t go wrong, but having to throw yourself to the ground day after day starts to take its toll. Throughout filming you pick up plenty of bumps and bruises, but I’ll survive.
Have you ever been in a real-life brawl?
I went to boarding school in the UK, and, well y’know, young boys can occasionally have differences in opinion! I wouldn’t call them brawls, though. That makes it sound more illegal and dangerous than it was!
Are you get sick of comparisons to Ben Affleck’s Daredevil?
To be honest, I’m not really privy to them. I have no online presence, so I don’t stumble onto them. I actually really enjoyed the film he was in, but I don’t think you can make a comparison. The film and TV show are tonally different, and essentially set in different worlds.
There are a lot insider references woven into the Marvel-Netflix shows. Do you keep up?
I do because I watch them all, and because as an actor and cinema fan I am fascinated by what Marvel is doing. By investing in writers and directors they have made the characters of the superhero the main focus rather than the ‘cool’ factor of their powers. It has given the fans something more to invest in, and instead of it all being about superpowers, the shows thrive on the depth of the characters, plots and relationships. The superhero aspect is just the sprinkling on top.
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Daredevil seasons 1 and 2 are available at netflix.com