Leading up to what’s being considered more of a 13-hour movie, I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with executive producers Jeph Loeb and Steven DeKnight; and actors Rosario Dawson, Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson to talk about the series. Here are some of the things that were discussed.
On actors not being privy to the show’s trajectory…
ELDEN HENSON (Foggy Nelson): We didn’t know where the characters were going as we were [filming] it, so you try not to make any real serious choices.
DEBORAH ANN WOLL (Karen Page): You just commit moment to moment. And sometimes, it would happen in the moment. Sometimes, you’re doing a scene, and you’re like, “Oh, you looked really cute when you did that.”
ROSARIO DAWSON (Claire Temple): All those question marks is what got me excited to sign on. That doesn’t mean any of us know anything more because it’s Marvel, and they’re beasts like that. I’d be that horrible person telling someone on set, “So, am I seeing you next week?” and they’d say, “I don’t know!” I’m like, “I’m sorry! I haven’t read that episode yet, either. I don’t know.” It’s such a different format for me than film, and getting to know the full end. It’s exciting. I like that question mark, and when you’re working with Marvel, they can dictate their own universe. Anything can happen, and that’s fun.
On the show’s Marvel Universe connections…
JEPH LOEB (Executive Producer): I get teased a lot because I say, “hashtag: it’s all connected.” I don’t just mean the Marvel Universe is all connected, we’re all connected and very much aware that each story that we tell impacts another story. And this goes back to the days of publishing where if you were writing Spider-Man, it didn’t mean you could just do whatever you wanted. You had to make sure that the villains you were using and the story you were telling were tied to whatever was going on in the larger universe, but by your own token, you could tell your own story.
On one of those connections being “Crusher” Creel…
LOEB: Crusher Creel is a character who has been around for a long time, the Absorbing Man, and I was the first one who decided that in Daredevil Yellow, what if Crusher Creel, before he became the Absorbing Man, was a boxer and he was the one who fought Battling Jack? So, you could have this sort of little wink. So, when we talked about doing one of the fights for Battling Jack, we thought, “Let’s put Crusher Creel in that.” It was really more a wink to Daredevil Yellow than anything else.
On Charlie Cox researching the life of a blind man to accurately portray Daredevil…
CHARLIE COX (Daredevil): I worked very closely with a blind consultant, a guy called Joe Strechay, who has been legally blind for 20 years. And I spent a lot of time filming him, filming his eyes in conversation. I also worked very closely with all the paraphernalia that comes along with being blind. Having a cane, one’s cane technique… There always needs to be a deadness in the eyes, which is very tricky.
DAWSON: Just putting on the mask was such a thing, making sure it came down the right way. It always looked super effortless… I became so sensitive to senses working and watching [Cox]. Just that struggle to pretend and how interesting that is. There are so many behaviors and habits that [Cox] had to break that are just natural things.
On most of the filming taking place at night…
WOLL: They were not easy shoot days. It was freezing cold and four in the morning.
HENSON: A lot of nights.
WOLL: And [Henson] had a baby!
HENSON: My son was born right before I started shooting this, so I had zero sleep. So, the whole thing is a blur for me.
WOLL: You have to bring the best version of yourself because it’s hard, and it’s nice when everyone commits to doing that.
DAWSON: We’re on vampire hours. The crew, everybody is working late at night. I’m very good at that. I love being up super late at night, but it’s hard.
Oh how an epic fight scene from Episode Two was shot in one take…
COX: It was as special a day as the scene has turned out… it’s particularly tricky because it’s not like a long tracking shot with two people speaking, it’s a long tracking shot with people punching. And if one punch doesn’t land it ceases to work as a scene. I think we did it 12 times. Three of them, we made it all the way through to the end, and one of them is the one in the show, which is almost flawless.
DAWSON: It’s beautiful and still, it takes it’s time, there’s breathing… you know you’ve got it when at the end of a take like that everyone goes, “Yeah!” There’s an immediate release that you don’t normally get on set. People don’t normally cheer like that on dramatic film.
On how New York is a character in its own right…
STEVEN DeKNIGHT (Showrunner/Executive Producer): I don’t think the show would have turned out nearly as well if we weren’t shooting in New York, it has a feel that you just cannot get anywhere else. We would get pictures from our location manager, Frank Corvino, and we would just be giddy with joy about these locations that were stunning. Some of them beautiful stunning, some of them stunning in the beauty of the decay that we were looking for that harkens back to the films from the ’70s that we drew a lot of inspiration from, with French Connection and Dog Day Afternoon and Taxi Driver.