COLLIDER – After they’ve each tried to pave their own way as heroes, Daredevil, aka Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist (Finn Jones), finally crossed paths and had to work together in Marvel’s The Defenders, in order to save New York City. Having been burdened with their own personal challenges and a desire to keep their loved ones safe, they reluctantly realized that they might actually be stronger fighting evil together.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Charlie Cox talked about what it’s meant to him to be a part of the Marvel universe, especially when all of his friends were already playing superheroes, looking at the other three heroes through the lens of Matt Murdock, how tricky it was to shoot big fight scenes together, how much he enjoyed the experience of working with Sigourney Weaver, his favorite fight scene, what he’d still like to see from Daredevil, and the incredible opportunity and responsibility of playing a character that so many people look up to.
Collider: What has it meant to you to be a part of the Marvel universe, playing Daredevil? Do you still have pinch me moments?
CHARLIE COX: You know, I really do. Part of the reason for that is, when I was in my 20s and I was an actor in London, I’d come out to Los Angeles and try to get work. Some of my dear friends, who were all trying to look for jobs, ended up being superheroes. I was mates with Andrew Garfield, Tom Hiddleston, Henry Cavill, and a ton of these guys who all ended up becoming these superheroes. When I hit 30, I thought, “Well, that ship has sailed, and I won’t get that opportunity.” And so, it was a wonderful surprise to learn that there was a character who they were interested in me for.
Did getting to be a part of The Defenders and seeing the other actors bringing their characters to life change your perspective on your character or on your place in the larger Marvel world?
COX: You know what? Only in so far as I would find myself wondering what Matt would think of these people. Would he admire them? Would he respect them? What would his opinion be of them, when he meets them for the first time? And then, maybe to some degree, would he learn anything from them? Would there be something that he would take away from working with them and getting to know them? But that was really done for me, in the writing of the show. What’s interesting about the four shows is that tonally, they’re all very different. It’s fun to find a way for all those four tones to come together in one show.
Matt Murdock tries to isolate himself, so that he doesn’t hurt the people he cares about, so how did you find the experience of actually being able to work with other people who are more indestructible than the average person?
COX: Yeah, that was a cool growth moment for Matt. One of the things that he’s been very reluctant to do, up until this point, has been to accept help and work with others. One of the great learning curves for him is that there are people out there where what they have to offer is very valid and beneficial. It’s also nice, emotionally, for him to learn to work as a team and start trusting in other people, not only in their abilities, but in who they are as other people and in their reliability as friends.
What was it like to find a balance among all four characters and worlds, since they have such different tones, as well as different fight skills and different senses of humor? Did you guys need to find that rhythm together, or did it come very naturally?
COX: All of that was talked about and considered in great depth, in the build-up of this show, with the stunt coordinator, Matt Mullins, and the powers that be at Marvel. It was obviously something that they thought could be really cool and they wanted to get it right, with all of the different fighting styles. Part of the fun is to choreograph scenes where we get to see all of them fight in their own unique way, so that we’re true to the characters. Hopefully, the medley of it becomes very fascinating to watch. It’s immensely tricky and time consuming and requires a great deal of choreography, but it was really fun. When they come to blows with each other, that’s particularly fun because that’s when you get to see the distinct fighting styles very starkly.
Obviously, with a series like The Defenders, everyone is going to be waiting for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to cross paths with each other and fight together. What were the logistics of shooting your first big fight scene together?
COX: It depends on the scene itself. The first one was really tricky because we were getting to know each other, for the first time. It also just so happened to be a scene with a lot of bad guys, to make it all the more tricky. It’s hard, and the choreography is really tricky. When I’m doing a fight scene in my series, normally it’s me versus a lot of bad guys. There’s only certain elements of the choreography that I have to know and everyone else is a stunt performer, so the camera angles can be whatever you want them to be. You can structure the scene so that I’m best used. When all four of us are fighting, you have to be aware that, if the camera is pointing at me, there’s a good chance you’re going to see at least one of the others in the background, so they need to be as proficient as you are, in those particular moments, in order for the shots to work. It’s a little bit of a logistical nightmare and it’s very time consuming, but it’s a fun challenge.
Would you say that, by the end of The Defenders, these four have a new appreciation and respect for one another?
COX: For me, the most interesting part of this story is the relationship between these guys and what it means for them to meet each other, share that bond, and work together to overcome this great evil, in a very short period of time. The fun of it for the fans is to see these characters evolve, and to grow and learn from each other?
What makes Sigourney Weaver the perfect villain to require these four heroes to team up to stop her, and how awesome was it to have her around on set?
COX: It doesn’t get better than that! She’s such an icon. She’s such a hero of mine. I couldn’t believe it when they told me she was going to be in this. She just elevates the whole thing. It’s one of those things I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Having the opportunity to work with her is seriously cool.
Do you have a favorite fight scene, from this season?
COX: I thought the first fight scene between Luke Cage and Iron Fist, at the end of Episode 2, was fantastic. I was laughing and it was beautifully shot. I thought it was brilliant. It’s so fun because it’s emotionally charged. You know that these two are going to end up becoming great mates. I’m not in it, but that’s my favorite fight scene.
How much fun was it for you to work with Elodie Yung, in such a different dynamic, this time around?
COX: She’s great. I’ve loved all of the stuff that we’ve had together. She’s fabulous, and they have a great chemistry. We have really enjoyed that work together. This is a different version of Elektra, so the fun thing for me was toying with how far Matt would allow himself to be deluded into believing that she’s there and can be good again. I think the answer is that he’ll take it very far, if there’s any chance he can relieve some of the guilt and shame that he feels about her. He’d want that more than anything else. Well beyond the point of rational thinking, he tries to convince himself and others that she’s still the woman that he knew and loved, and that she can be coerced into working with them.
Now that you’ve done two seasons of Daredevil and have also gotten to see how Matt can work with others in The Defenders, what would you still like to learn about him or see from him?
COX: I don’t know. I don’t know what they’re thinking or planning for Season 3. I’d like to see the relationship with Karen figure itself out. I’d like Matt to be able to find that vulnerability that is required, in order to be honest, up front and vulnerable with someone that he cares greatly about. Hopefully, he’s learned some lessons from The Defenders. Hopefully, he’s learned that sometimes we need each other. He believes in God and maybe he’s beginning to understand that God gave us each other for a reason, and he doesn’t have to be so stubborn in his need and desire to do everything by himself.
One of the cool things about playing a character like this is all of the fans. Have you had stand-out moments, when you’ve seen a kid dressed up as Daredevil, or when a kid looks at you as if you really are the superhero that you play on TV?
COX: I have, yes. There have been a couple of moments like that, which are pretty special. It’s quite a humbling moment and you suddenly become very aware of the responsibility. It’s very easy to think, “I play a character on a TV show and I’m not very important.” That’s true, actually. In my case, with Daredevil, sometimes it’s young adults or children who have grown up with a physical disability. Matt is a superhero who’s grown up with that, so he often means a lot to children who have grown up with that kind of adversity. Those are very humbling moments. You’re just reminded of the effect that entertainment and characters on TV can have on people. I find it astonishing that I’ve been given the opportunity to bear that responsibility. You just try to live your life as an upstanding member of society, and be kind and generous with people. Hopefully, you’ll end up being a good role model, if people look to you for that.