The following Q&A is from The Daredevil You Know: Spotlight on Charlie Cox panel at Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo (C2E2) on Sunday, April 8, 2018. My original intention was to squeeze this into my final post of the series last Thursday but, even after skimming off the less interesting stuff, felt it warranted its own. The panel was hosted by Clare Kramer a.k.a. Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and ran an hour. The auditorium was huge and the panel photos here were all taken by me – thanks to a great telephoto lens. I have to say that so far as celebrity panels go, Cox was one actor who’s really in tune with his character. He not only provided interesting behind the scenes tidbits (at least as far as what Marvel allows) as well as insights on Daredevil, himself. But don’t take my word for it, read for yourself…
Kramer – Did you ever imagine when you first got the script for Daredevil that you’d be sitting here…hugely successful with two series (including The Defenders) and that it would resonate with so many people?
Cox – No…definitely not. I’m a British actor and, back in my twenties, many of my fellow actors went off and played superheroes. So when I hit thirty I thought, “Well, that ship has sailed.” (audience laughs) So this was so ‘out of the blue.’
Kramer – That’s amazing. So from that moment and when you started filming how familiar were you with the original material and how did you approach your version of the character?
Cox – When I first saw the script I had to sit in a secure room with someone paid to watch me read it (due to secrecy). Before I even saw it, they had me audition but changed the names for security reasons. They had my character listed as a guy named ‘Ed’ with a list of character traits…tall, athletic, redhead…that kind of stuff and didn’t mention he was blind. When I was told his name was Daredevil I hadn’t read a single comic. So a friend of mine says, “Yeah, that superhero is blind” and I’m like, “I’m pretty sure he’s not, they would have told me that.” (Audience laughs)
Kramer – You were the main hero for two seasons and then joined The Defenders. How was that transition?
Cox – It was really fun and I’ve become quite close to all those guys. Matt Murdock is such a loner that it was fun to explore him making new friends. We think about superheroes having all this power and how badass it is but one of the things they do in the Netflix series’ is illustrate that these abilities in some ways also make us freaks. There’s an element of shame we carry and we’re afraid to really ‘show up’ because people judge us and are afraid of what we do. So Matt never really felt safe with anyone before and it’s fun to explore the dynamic between himself and others like him.
Kramer – How far in advance are you given your scripts and how far ahead can you plan your parts for the season?
Cox – Well, that’s actually a matter of choice. You can request to know what the story is but I personally prefer just doing things as they happen so I’m experiencing it as the character is. My concern is that if “Script A” comes in and there’s a story point in there that I already know, about there’s a chance I might just ‘guss’ over it a bit and not really give it the same impact that was intended for the audience. So I’ll ask for backstory or if there will be any flashbacks but other than that, I just look at where the character is at ‘now.’
Kramer – When you’re acting in a scene or having a dialogue with another character, are you doing something where you really can’t see them?
Cox – No, I did at the beginning with my first scenes. I went and had these contacts made that look identical to my eyes but you can’t see through them. In the end, it didn’t work out for two reasons. Number one, you tend to look in the direction someone is talking to you whether you can see them or not. So for most of those scenes, it looked like I was looking at those people anyway. Also, it was a nightmare for the crew having to walk me around everywhere. So I worked with my friend, Joe, who is visually impaired and a member of the Association for the Blind and observed him a lot.
Audience Question – Do you know if Marvel is planning a Ghost Rider series?
Cox – They don’t tell me anything. In fact, I was doing a play in New York when a fan of Daredevil showed up and that’s how I found out there was going to be a Season 3. She was like, “Oh, the show just got picked up for a third season” and I was like, “Oh…awesome!!!”
Audience Question – In becoming Daredevil, what’s the thing you most identify with and what about him was the hardest to connect with?
Cox – Great question. I remember the thing that was worrying me was this idea that he’s “the man without fear.” I was concerned about that because if you’re going to make a drama that goes on thirteen hours or twenty-six hours, it’s not very interesting watching someone who doesn’t suffer from any sort of fear. Fear is universal and what it does for people if you face it, is brings out what I think are the greatest human qualities. The greatest thing you can do when you feel fear is to face it and hopefully change and not have to face it again or at least in the same way. The reason people call him the man without fear is because people see what he does and they’ve labeled him that. He doesn’t call himself that and, in actuality he feels great fear. He’s afraid of not just the feats that he attempts but frightened of human engagement and connectivity. He’s frightened of being too close to his best friend, Foggy, and then someone hurting him because he’s connected to Daredevil. So my favorite thing about Matt is that he’s afraid. My second favorite thing is that the difference between him and just about every single person in this world is that everytime he’s afraid, he fights it. He never surrenders to it. And I think that’s a great lesson for all of us, myself included.
As for the second part of your question, the thing I really have to work hard on with Matt is that I smile all the time and he is very serious. I like people to be happy and want them to like me. So I have to work really hard not to smile all the time. Matt doesn’t feel the need to make people feel comfortable and he’s not afraid to say things to them even if it’s hard to hear. So that’s something I admire about him.
Audience Question – Do have an MCU villain/character on your wishlist that you’d like to see appear on your show?
Cox – Unfortunately, I’ve made the mistake of sharing that in the past and got in trouble for it. Because of the secrecy of Marvel projects, even if I say just who I’d like to work with it turns into rumors that the character is teaming up with me. So, unfortunately, I can’t really answer that one. But, hey, how about Stilt-Man? (Audience laughs)
Audience Question – Which Marvel Netflix show aside from your own do you enjoy the most?
Cox – I think personally my favorite show is Jessica Jones. Krysten (Ritter) is an extraordinary actress and does an amazing job with that character but it’s a tough choice as I love them all.
Audience Question – How do you prepare for heavy, emotional scenes?
Cox – (pauses) I don’t really know. It sounds weird but if I have a scene that’s sad or angry, I don’t try and get sad and angry. With me, it’s like a two-hour delay. I do the scene and then two hours later I’m mad as hell. (audience laughs) I actually tend to distract myself right before a scene like that and talk/laugh with the crew. I prefer it to be organic and unplanned when the camera rolls.
Audience Question – Personally, which love interest, or possible love interest, on the show, do you think is best suited for Matt?
Cox – It’s interesting because in season two you had Karen Page and Elektra who were both very different women who perfectly illustrate the two sides of Matt. In many ways, you have Karen who is Matt’s, true love and represents everything he wants to be as a human. Elektra, on the other hand, brings out of Matt something that is darker but undeniable. In many ways, she knows the true Matt much more than Karen does. But that doesn’t mean he, himself, is all darkness. Like I said earlier, you’re always fighting that. In a perfect world, Matt can function as Daredevil without being in conflict with himself. But, in the interim, Elektra is his true alter ego.
Kramer is about to go to next audience member question when Cox interrupts her.
Cox – Wait, I’m interested in hearing what character this audience wants to see him with; Elektra, Karen, or how about Foggy?
Kramer – Okay, let’s do a survey by applause. How many people want him with Elektra? (moderate applause) How about Karen? (louder applause). Okay, there’s your answer!
Cox – Wait a minute, you didn’t finish the survey. How many people want to see him end up with Foggy? (loudest applause of the three). Okay, I’ll go talk to the writers.
Audience Question – What was your favorite scene or moment to film?
Cox – My favorite scene is in Season One, episode four when he shows up at Claire Temple’s (played by Rosario Dawson) apartment. It’s my favorite for a couple reasons. On that day, the Director and I came up with a couple fun ideas which I really liked. In the script, it says, ‘Claire Temple throws Matt his shirt’ and this is early in the series when they’re still revealing Matt’s skills. So I thought, ‘What if she throws it behind him, without him even facing that direction and catches it. So she would say her line and then someone off camera counted ‘3…2..1’ and then I put my arm out and caught it, using the character’s sonar. I just loved how that all came about at that moment. It was all shot on a set that looked like it was an upstairs apartment and, at the end of the scene, I was supposed to exit. So I asked them if they could throw a cushion out the window and then, without telling anyone, casually went out that way during one of the takes rather than the door. In a movie with a big budget, you’d see Matt sort of swing his way down but all we showed was him basically disappearing into the night and I thought that was so magical and what cinema used to be before they had CGI and you had to leave things up to the imagination.
Audience Question – Did it take any work having to deepen your voice when you are Daredevil so you don’t come across sounding like a certain Dark Knight (Batman)?
Cox – Well, I had to work a lot on my American accent and then worked on something that was “general” and not placeable. I tried to give it a hint of his blue-collar father and where he comes from but I also wanted something that was a little deeper than my own voice. I think if someone has the kind of super hearing that Matt has, he’d talk in a nicer, softer voice. Of course, when you’re in a dark alley and trying to intimidate someone, you only use about three or four syllables. So it’s almost impossible not to end up doing a Batman.
Audience – How did it feel when you first put on the Daredevil costume?
Cox – Well, first of all, I loved how the suit didn’t show up till the end of the first season so you had a twelve episode buildup of anticipation. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite fit me, didn’t feel right, and it was hard to breathe. So my experience was, ‘this is really cool but I’m going to faint.’ Once I got into the habit in Season Two and it was a regular thing it was easier. You know it’s pretty cool when it’s early in the morning, you’ve had your coffee, and you look in the mirror and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m a superhero!” (laughter). And then there are other days when you don’t feel the right motivation and you look at yourself and you’re like, “This is ridiculous.” (more laughter)
Audience Question – Had you not been cast as Daredevil, is there any other Marvel character you would have liked to be?
Cox – Well superheroes are so fun to play and Daredevil is so close to my heart now that I can’t imagine being anyone else. I would say maybe years down the road it would be fun to play a villain but I really feel like right now I have the best character and one that allows me to play a little of both. He’s a hero but then again, he’s not. He has all these personal demons and sometimes his behavior is questionable. There’s that amazing first fight scene in Season One where the guy’s already down, he’s on the floor and not responding…and Daredevil is still going at him. That’s very confronting, especially if you grew up loving superheroes. I really applaud Marvel and Netflix for allowing the character to go down that path. I wouldn’t for a second advocate that behavior, but what a confronting moment for the genre to have a superhero just lose control and go beyond what is fair and reasonable. So that’s what I mean by saying I sort of get to play both a hero and villain. If you weren’t familiar with superheroes and were just sort of flipping channels and stumbled on one of his scenes, you wouldn’t necessarily know he was supposed to be the good guy. He’s not black and white and I love how our series sort of lives in the gray.
Audience Question – Do you get a lot of people recognizing you in public since the success of Daredevil?
Cox – Yes, though I tend to feel self-conscious when they do. Just recently I was on the subway and there were some people sitting across that I could hear talking about me. One kept saying, “That’s Daredevil!” and the other said, “No, that’s not him.” This went on for a while and I just pretended like I didn’t hear them. So when we reached my stop, I got off and just as the door was shutting looked right at them through the glass and jumped up and down saying, “It’s me!!!” and they were all freaking out as the train went off. It was pretty funny.