C2E2 2018: The Devil You Know In The Charlie Cox Spotlight Panel

by Hannah Means Shannon

In The Devil You Know: The Charlie Cox Spotlight panel at C2E2, Cox was asked if he was surprised by the success of the Daredevil show, he commented that as a British actor, when he was in his 20’s, many of his friends went off to play superheroes, and he didn’t get any parts. So when he hit his 30’s, he figured that ship had sailed.
Also, when he went into audition, he hadn’t been told that the characters was blind, nor read the comics, so that was a surprise. Post-joining the cast, he’s been working with a man who has been blind for 20 years, and at one point went out into New York with him while wearing a blind fold, which was terrifying.

Asked how he handles fight scenes that feature a blind character, Cox said that firstly, he’s doing as much action work now since he figures when he gets older, he won’t want to. He does “as much as they will let him” in terms of stunts, and is told occasionally, “no, you’re not throwing yourself off that building”.
They try to remember, in choreography, that Matt Murdoch doesn’t react with the use of his eyes, but to things that enter his periphery, too, so his movements are different. Also, he fights with a mixed style that’s from a number of arts, and he’s also something of a “street brawler” like his father was. “If in doubt, just keep hitting something”, Cox laughed.
Asked about collaborating on Defenders, Cox said it was nice because Matt Murdock is a loner, and it was nice to experience what he’d be like trying to work in a group. We tend to think about the “badass” aspect of being a superhero, but we also need to think of these guys as being kind of “freaks” and feeling “shame” about this, worrying that they can’t open up to others or be judged or imprisoned. But in Defenders we get to explore this, Cox said.
Cox says that he prefers not to know the large overview of the season before the scripts come in, but wants to read each episode’s script as it comes in and react to that. He often asks the showrunners if there’s any “backstory” he should know about, including flashbacks, though.

Asked if he tries to “not see” when working, Cox said that in the beginning, he went and had contacts made that looked like his eyes, but made it impossible for him to see. It didn’t really work out because it was a nightmare for the crew to have to lead him around the set, annoying others, but also he still “looked” in the direction of sound, and that didn’t create the right effect. Now he has to instead really “act” and try to make sure his eyes are doing the right things in scenes, which was a better approach.
Cox confirmed that Season 3 of Daredevil is “coming”, to applause.
Asked about the “conflicted” nature of Daredevil, and what he identified with or didn’t in the character, Cox said the idea that he’s known as “the man without fear” troubled him with 40 hours of television. He wasn’t convinced that it would be interesting to watch so many hours of a character without fear, which is universal. The best you can do is “face fear and punch through it”. The reason he’s called “the man without fear”, though, is because people see what he does, and label him as such, but truly inside, he does feel lots of fear. He’s frightened of human connection and letting people down, or getting them hurt, all the time. “My favorite thing about Matt is that he’s afraid”, Cox said, “But every time he’s afraid, he fights it. He doesn’t surrender to it. He punches through it”.
On a lighter note, something he has to work hard on to play Matt is that Cox, as a person, smiles a lot. He’s a big smiler, but that’s not very Daredevil at all. So he has to work hard not to smile all the time. Matt doesn’t need to make people feel comfortable, so he doesn’t smile much.

Cox was asked if ideas of depression play into his presentation of Murdock, and Cox said yes, that’s true. He thinks that the word “superhero” makes you think of some perfect person who never makes mistakes or has weaknesses, but those are things that make characters relatable. He thinks the portrayal of human struggle in superheroes is really important. One of the things Cox likes about Murdock is that he has a short temper, and if he can’t help people immediately, he wants to walk away. He feels that Matt does struggle and get depressed. Something he doesn’t like that films sometimes do is make people think that life is all rosy, when it’s not.
Asked what other MCU shows he’s enjoyed, Cox said Jessica Jones Season 1 was a big favorite of his, to applause, and David Tennant is a friend of his also, so he enjoyed that.
Asked about working on Stardust, which was one of his first jobs after drama school, Cox said he was awestruck by working with so many big stars. He had a fencing rehearsal with Robert De Niro, and found it hard to call him “Bob”. They moved all over the British Isles filming, in Wales and Scotland, too.
Asked about the differences between working on a play vs. working on a film, he said they are two such different things that they are hard to compare, like music vs. movies. Plays are a complete journey in one night, which will occur again, whereas filming, you do a scene and do it all day, then never again. Plays are extreme expertiences, in a way, and can be terrifying, but at some point, you realize that if you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter.
Asked about creating Matt’s accent, Cox said he wanted something Blue Collar, like Matt’s father, but also the accent of someone who went to Columbia, and it occurred to him that Matt would have quite a nice voice, as someone to whom hearing is so important. But the “interrogation” voice while in a mask, was something that he struggled with, since it’s “almost impossible not to do a Batman impression”. It’s understandable, and would occasionally get a note back of “less Batman” on that voice.
Asked about the first experience of wearing the full costume, meaning the red one, Cox said there was huge anticipation since there were so many episodes before that. The first time, it didn’t quite fit him and it was hard to breathe. He thought, “This is really cool but I might faint”, Cox said.
But these days it can be humorous to be sitting around having a serious work conversation and then look down and see the suit and think, “This is ridiculous”. The black suit from Season One, however, was “super comfy”, he laughed. Fight scenes where Matt is just wearing his lawyer suit are fun, Cox said, and he has to do most of those stunts himself because there’s no mask.

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