TV

Cast And Creators Of Marvel’s ‘Daredevil’ Discuss The Show And Its Creation

The next Netflix binge — soon to take over 13 hours of your life — is Marvel’s Daredevil, premiering this Friday. As evidenced in show’s trailers, this iteration of “The Man Without Fear” takes a darker turn than versions we’ve seen of Daredevil in the past. With the agility that comes with being on Netflix, one can expect many morbid moments.

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.

On Rosario dipping her toe into the superhero world…

DAWSON: I’ve had people seething at me for many years, “Why aren’t you wearing spandex? Where’s your cape?” I actually didn’t even tell a lot of people [when I got the role]. I spoke to my very intimate geek squad and only half of them even knew who Claire Temple was. So, that was even more interesting. That I was going to join the Marvel Universe with a very unknown character. That made me really excited.

On Daredevil’s American accent taking care and precision…

COX: There are times, if it’s an emotional scene, I don’t want to think about [the accent]. I just want to be in it. There were times where I’d have to re-do takes because I’d slip on a word or the sound wasn’t quite right. Sometimes it was a little frustrating… the great thing about it is it’s like an extra piece of costume. It’s something I get to have that is definitely not Charlie. It’s one extra thing to take me away from who I am. And also the thing I found with Matt with the accent, it wasn’t just the sounds, he speaks much deeper than I do. I don’t really know where that came about but it was some point when I was thinking about the sensory stuff and I was thinking, Matt’s hearing is so good, the tonal quality of his voice would be very resonant.

On how Karen Page’s evolution may coincide with the darker turns from the comic book…

WOLL: Karen has an extreme trajectory in the comic book. While I didn’t particularly want to play a heroin addicted porn star on day one [laughs], I liked the idea that whether we go in that direction or not that that kind of a person was always in her, just not present, just not revealed yet. I wanted to take all aspects. The sweet side and the more daring devilish side of her.

On how Karen’s role is much more than just “the girl”…

WOLL: When I was first thinking about whether I was going to do the show or not, I had a long conversation with Jeff Loeb for what their plan was for Karen Page in the first season. Because I was concerned about just playing the girl, and I wanted to be sure she was going to have an independent life and story for herself. And he probably told me way more than he was allowed to say, but I really appreciated it. In the end, it’s what made me want to do the role.

On how Foggy Nelson is a character full of love…

HENSON: He loves his friends and his neighborhood and the people around him. And that’s the thing I gravitated towards. I didn’t know much about this comic before I got involved, so I looked for things I could tap into. I’m very close to my friends and family. I feel a similar way about my neighborhood and where I live in Echo Park. There’s still some dangerous elements, but it’s also really gentrified now. It’s a weird mix of different types of people, but I love that.

On how Charlie Cox prepared for the role, physically, with many oats…

COX: I’m probably not your typical choice physically for a superhero. Steve [DeKnight] said to me, “Look, I want you to put on 20 pounds of muscle in four days,” or something. So, I immediately started eating as much as I could. Rosario jokes about how I would turn up to set with protein shakes with oats in them. Just drinking oatmeal… [I] also met with my stunt double who is an extraordinary human being capable of feats that I did not know that human beings could achieve. And I did as much of the fight scenes as I was able to, which turned out to be quite a lot.

On how binge-watching is probably the best way to watch the series…

LOEB: One of the reasons why Marvel and Netflix make such good partners is that that really comes from publishing. When you stop and you think about it, a writer and an artist come in, they want to tell a story, they’re not necessarily going to stick around for three years or even more. We always try to get people to tell six-part stories or 12-part stories, and you get to come in and do those and you get to leave or continue.

On not having to be Marvel-obsessed to partake in the binge…

DAWSON: The costume vigilante part is the extra. It’s not what you’re going in for and the show doesn’t rely on it. It’s an extra element and it makes sense actually. Cops wear uniforms, firefighters wear uniforms. You’re going to see this man who is kind of wearing a uniform by day, pretending things about himself that aren’t actually true, and then by putting on this mask, he’s allowing himself to reveal this other aspect to himself. It challenges us to think about that mask we all live in. And it makes it less about this perfect spandex kind of hero who is invincible and outside of ourselves, and actually makes it very real and present.

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