I’ve been going through some of Charlie’s interviews and this one really struck me as cute. Apparently Charlie’s mother sends him his bad reviews. Talk about counter productive for a parent, though my guess is that his mom knows Charlie well enough. There’s also some funny moments where Charlie talks about the language barrier between over The Pond. Read on.
Charlie Cox on playing Daredevil: ‘My Mum sends me all my bad reviews’
By day, he’s a blind lawyer. By night, he’s a fearless crimefighter who sees with his ears. As Daredevil returns, the first Brit to play him talks about disliking superheroes, glorifying violence and rejecting Downton
“I get to stand on a roof looking heroic,” says Charlie Cox. “I get to put on a Spandex suit and run around punching people.” He’s talking about playing Daredevil, The Man With No Fear (or Eyesight, though that doesn’t seem much of a hindrance to his super-violent, super-gymnastic super-heroics). So he likes the part? “I love it,” he says.
Cox, 33, has taken a role once played by Ben Affleck and made it his own – despite being largely unknown and the first non-American to play Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer who moonlights in tights and fights.
In season two, which launches on Netflix on Friday, DD is back in his now-souped-up supergear: pec-hugging body armour and, even better, a helmet with horns. This is a much-needed upgrade of his seriously uncool old outfit, which was topped by what can only be described as a tea cosy. He also gets not one but two love interests, as well as a smattering of new baddies to throw through flimsy sets, not to mention several personal dilemmas.
Cox plays Daredevil as The Man With No Fear But With Plenty of Flaws and Scars. “He has this Catholic guilt,” says Cox, “which is unusual in a superhero.” Cox really gets Murdock’s angst, he says, having been brought up in the faith himself.
It may be an adaptation of a comic book, but Marvel’s Daredevil is especially gruesome and definitely not for the squeamish: one villain impales himself on a spike headfirst; another is bludgeoned to death with a bowling ball; while a crime boss removes a Russian flunkey’s head with a car door.
Is Cox happy about all this gore? “I don’t feel comfortable with the glorification of violence,” he says. “But, as an actor who has had long periods of unemployment, you have to be lenient with your convictions.”
Sitting in a suite at the Mandarin hotel in Paris, Cox certainly seems more comfortable centre-stage than he was back in 2007 when he said: “Fame terrifies me.” But he’s still not entirely at ease: “My reaction when I hear the word celebrity is, ‘Who, me?’ It doesn’t feel like I’m famous. I don’t get hounded in the street. I live in New York, where people don’t give a shit who you are. Thus far, touch wood, my life has changed very little.”
Cox discovered a passion for acting at Sherborne school in Dorset, though he was frustrated that all its productions were musicals (he can’t sing, he says). With his parents’ encouragement, he shunned university and went to Bristol Old Vic drama school. In 2007, he played Tristan Thorn in Stardust opposite Robert De Niro and Michele Pfeiffer.
He also played the Duke of Crowborough in the Downton Abbey pilot, but by the time the series was commissioned had signed up for the Martin Scorsese-produced show Boardwalk Empire. In that, he played Owen Sleater, a cheeky Irishman who works for (and falls for the wife of) Nucky, the corrupt politician brought so nastily to life by Steve Buscemi.
Doesn’t this suggest drama is more his thing? Cox admits he is “not a fan of the superhero genre”, but he was drawn to the script because it felt “like a crime drama with superhero peppering on top”.
Blinded in an accident as a child, Murdock’s hearing becomes so acute that he can hear a watch tick across a crowded courtroom or identify a lying witness by their racing heart. As Daredevil, he confronts baddies – from car thieves to bikers, from wife-beaters to gangs of Irish, Mexican and Russian psychopaths – in the rundown NY district of Hell’s Kitchen, leaving them down but never dead, in the style of the original comics.
The new season cranks up DD’s capacity for angst as the lines between good and evil blur, leaving him agonising over whether he has the right to play god. “Daredevil’s religion makes him unique,” says Cox. “He’s a vigilante, but he’s also a lawyer – and all the while, he believes only God is capable of bringing people to justice.”
Can these three conflicting things be reconciled? The battle to do so is what drew Cox to the character whose own flaws are all too evident. “I was interested in Matt’s inner demons. He’s like an alcoholic – he can’t stop. He puts on the suit and all bets are off.” Does Cox have his own inner demons? “Doesn’t everyone? I’ve struggled for confidence and had great doubts about myself. But, personally, I’m not riddled with guilt.”
Although he is no longer afraid of the spotlight, Cox still suffers flashes of insecurity. “I didn’t read the critics last year. I was very, very nervous – when I was cast there was a lot of, ‘This guy doesn’t look right.’ But my mum finds those comments rather amusing and forwards them to me. Good for her. It makes me take it all less seriously.”
Cox says one of the biggest challenges has been acting blind and using a white cane. He was blindfolded and taken round New York by Joe Strechey, who works as a consultant to the series and is himself blind. “It was quite literally the blind leading the blind,” he says. “Crossing roads was an ordeal. It seems archaic, in this day and age, that people with vision loss are still using a white cane to get around.”
Cox has had to perfect his New York accent for the part, but it’s not the only language issue he has faced. “The other day,” he says, “we were discussing something with the director. He said: ‘How important is it to you?’ I said: ‘Look, I’m not going to throw my dummy out of the pram.’ The whole crew stared at me as if I was insane. I could see them all trying to translate it, so I had to stop, think, then repeat: ‘I’m not going to throw my pacifier out of the stroller.’”