Charlie Cox did not spend his quarantine like the rest of us.
While we were off testing our sourdough recipes and devoting a disturbing amount of energy to scrolling through Tik-Tok videos, he was on the streets of Dublin, kidnapping and killing people.
Well, pretending to anyway.
The actor views his new AMC+ crime drama Kin as more than just a break from self-imposed isolation though. It’s a chance to return to TV, with a role that feels markedly different from his Daredevil days. As the enforcer for an Irish crime family who’s recently been released from prison and is trying to rebuild his life without all the bloodshed, Cox’s Michael is stoic, shy … often barely audible. He’s also the kind of bad guy Matt Murdock would happily beat to a pulp were his red cowl handy. Despite that, over the course of the show’s eight episodes, Cox gives this outsider enough heart and emotion that, oddly enough, you root for him to escape an entirely different kind of prison: his family.
We chatted with that actor about delving into the very real criminal underworld of Dublin, being a first-time dad (onscreen), and what he thinks about Spider-Man: No Way Home’s #ForearmGate.
I know you’re not big on social media. Did you know your forearms were trending on Twitter?
[Laughs] It has been mentioned to me, yeah.
Is that flattering, that people think they can recognize your arm hair?
It’s really cool that people care that much. That means a huge amount to me that people care enough to spend time trying to figure out if one frame of an arm is actually my arm. Obviously, I’m not going to speak about anything in regards to whether it is or isn’t, just because I would hate to spoil anything for anyone.
So you’re not going to tell me your theory of whether it’s really you or not?
[Laughs] I’m not going to give you my theory. But I will say, from what I hear, everyone is in that film. Do you know what I mean? It looks like it’s going to be a great movie, and it’s going to be a lot of fun, and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Well, this is your first TV role after Daredevil. What’s it like going from a comic book story with so much fan investment to this crime drama where you get to build something of your own?
It was nice to not feel the same amount of pressure. Playing a Marvel superhero comes with a great amount of responsibility. Those characters are enormously important to people all over the globe and have been for decades. I’m grateful that for the most part, we seem to have got it right, and people really enjoyed the show, but, every episode felt really, really, really important and I didn’t want to get it wrong.
With Kin, obviously, there was less pressure and I could be a little bit more lenient with my interpretation of things. It was also really enjoyable to be able to use my eyes as an actor again. That was something that was a great challenge to play as Daredevil, and something I took very, very seriously. But it’s difficult to convey emotion on-screen without the use of one’s eyes. So, it was fun to be able to do that again. Sometimes I had to remind myself that I could look at people.
So, you could use your eyes again on-screen. Anything else really interest you about the character?
I was really taken by the fact that you’ve got a man who’s come out of jail and is clearly very different and very changed from the person that everyone remembers. Of course, we don’t get to see who he was. So, all of that has to be done through the acting and I was really excited about the prospect of playing someone who has a reputation for being very destructive and violent, and a pretty bad dude, to someone who now is kind of delicate and fragile — who we can’t help but feel for and root for in a weird way. I thought that was a fun challenge.
As an American, I know absolutely nothing about the criminal underworld of Dublin. Did you learn anything surprising while filming there?
Yeah, obviously our show is a fictional family and fictional circumstances but I was amazed to discover that there is quite a significant crime scene in Dublin. I’m English and I hadn’t spent much time there. So, I learned all about that when I was preparing for the role. There are a lot of articles and books and podcasts about the crime scene in Dublin, and I was able to read up on that to help influence my performance.
You’re saying you didn’t go method and start shooting people in pubs? Dealing drugs?
[laughs] Not any more than I usually do.
Story-wise, there’s a lot bubbling just underneath the surface on this show. Is any of the familial tension going to be resolved by the season finale?
Resolution is not the kind of thing that happens in this family. Their version of resolution is, shove as much of it as possible under the rug and hope that it goes away, kind of thing. Which I think is actually true to life in many ways. A lot of difficult situations with families are made more difficult because confronting that issue potentially opens a can of worms. Sometimes with families, if you push too far, you could end up having a rift that’s unfixable.
So, what Michael, Jimmy, and Amanda are dealing with is, they have paradoxical desires. One, for all of them to get on with each other and love each other, and for things to be amicable. But rather frustratingly, sometimes for Michael and Amanda particularly, that goes against their heart desires. Therein lies the drama, I guess. So, resolution no, but more will be revealed.
There’s a father/daughter relationship on the show that’s really heartbreaking. Why is that added element so important to the character?
I’m a father, and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to play a dad, so I was really excited to dig into that. I felt like, despite Michael’s life and the kind of things he’s done, he was a really, good present father. I like that weird concept, that someone who can enforce that much harm and be so cruel to people, he’s also someone who loves deeply and cares so much about his daughter. I think that being taken away from his daughter was the worst and hardest thing that’s ever happened to him. I wanted his need to rekindle that relationship, to be the driving force behind everything he does, and everything that the rest of his family wants him to do works in opposition to that.
Since you are a dad, was that tough to play on-screen? I imagine that’s not the kind of relationship you hope for with your own kids.
Yeah, It brings up painful thoughts and feelings. It involves the loss of the relationship. That’s a very painful thing to think about and dwell in. I absolutely love being a dad, and I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been around a great deal for my children’s lives so far, and I’m very involved in their lives. My kids are the most important thing in the world. There’s nothing that trumps my relationship with my children and my wife. So, it just raises the stakes playing a role that has very strong family ties, there’s a lot to get stuck into. There’s a lot to play with. There’s a lot of deep emotion there.
Let’s get down to the hard-hitting questions now. When are we getting a Stardust sequel? It’s time.
Seriously! It’s been almost 15 years. Sadly, we don’t have any plans to make a sequel, at least not involving me. But I’m looking forward to my daughter watching it. I did put it on the other day, just for the first few minutes. Obviously, she’s too young for a lot of it. So I was just going to show her a minute of it, and, quite quickly, she was like, ‘Daddy, I’m bored. I want to watch something else.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean? In a minute I’m going to ride a unicorn. You don’t want to see that?’ I’m excited for her to be old enough to appreciate that whole thing.