We were very careful that the suit didn’t get leaked; there were only a few scenes that it features in, but we made sure they happened in dark alleys, pretty much.
The only thing is there are lots of film production in New York at the moment; New Yorkers aren’t that impressed. They’re more like, “Who’s in the f***ing way?” That’s what I love about filming in New York; you’re not mobbed… I’m sure if you’re George Clooney you would be, but I wasn’t.
You worked with a special trainer, Joe Strechay learning to be blind; what surprised you about that?
A number of things. It’s surprising to me how difficult certain things are. I spent a certain amount of time learning how to do household chores while wearing a blindfold so when and if they presented themselves in the show I would be accomplished at them. Of course, I would actually have the use of my eyes, as long as it didn’t look as if I was looking at anything, but just making a cup of tea – how do you pour boiling water into a mug and know when the mug is appropriately full? Little tiny things that are very tricky.
I blindfolded myself, and he and I went out into the street for a few hours – literally the blind leading the blind – and it was terrifying at times. There were certain cross streets where I had no idea where the traffic was going, and it felt like it was coming from all directions. I didn’t even know if I was on the pavement or not. It was really disconcerting. That helped make me take it a lot more seriously.
The other thing that’s worth noting: from an acting point of view, it was very very tricky. I underestimated how much you use your eyes as an actor. They’re such a vital tool: you can say one thing and mean something completely different based on what your eyes are doing. Obviously I didn’t have that luxury. Also you feed off other actors. You draw emotion from them, and I didn’t have that – and nor did they because we were not connecting on that level. We had to find other ways, which was interesting.
How did you factor in that he’s not blind in the regular way? That’s why Foggy gets so angry when he finds out the truth because he’s seen Matt walking around with the stick and holding people’s arms – and then realizes he can do backflips…?
It’s tricky as well because if you think about it, it makes it seem as if Matt Murdock is the persona rather than Daredevil because obviously when he’s Matt Murdock, he’s pretending to operate as a blind person does. But at the same time there are reasons he has a cane, which we didn’t explore too much in our first season: initially when Daredevil was written, the cane doubled as a weapon, and he also uses the tapping on the ground to create a sense of the world and the objects around him through vibration.
The most important thing was to recognise the different aspects. There’s Matt Murdock by himself, or with Claire Temple who knows about him – someone who doesn’t use his eyes but he can walk around the apartment and operate better than a sighted person. There’s Matt Murdock out in public or with Karen and Foggy and people who don’t know about him, maintaining the illusion that he operates like a blind person. And then there’s the vigilante aspect, when the glasses are off or the mask is up and you see his eyes. I had to make sure in every scene I went in to, I understood how he would be with the people he was with and makes sure there was a consistency to it.
There was a moment in the Ben Affleck movie – which I liked, by the way: I thought Ben Affleck did a wonderful job; ours is very different but they’re both valid – where he’s alone in the apartment and he traces the wall with his hand. I didn’t understand that: why would he do that? He would only do that if he were maintaining the illusion that he’s blind and not on his own.
And I had to remember after a certain episode, when with Foggy it’s all now reversed!
The cast was phenomenal: everyone gets a lot of screen time, but you don’t get to interact a lot with Mr D’Onofrio… How was working with him? He was insanely good in the part.
He’s fantastic, isn’t he! I remember when they told me they were casting him, and I was like, “Oh shit. They mean business!” Other than being the loveliest guy, very little acting was required on my part because he’s an incredibly imposing figure. As soon as he walks into the room, you’re like, “f***!”
I remember when we were at ComicCon, someone asked him a question about Wilson Fisk. At this point I hadn’t worked with him yet, and he said, “Wilson Fisk is a child and a monster.” I remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. I think he does that fantastically well: he makes him so human.
We talked a lot about this show early on, trying to maintain this idea that there are moral ambiguities with all the characters, and you don’t necessarily know who’s in the right and wrong, and who’s bad. If you get that right, if you tread that path effectively, it should feel more human and more relatable. I think he achieved that wonderfully well.
If he’s a child and a monster, who’s Matt Murdock?
That’s a really good question. I don’t think that Matt Murdock/Daredevil is a dual personality. In our first season, we see Matt Murdock evolve into Daredevil and start to embody that persona, understand it and come to grips with it, and accept that side of himself rather than it being an alter ego. Rather than being a child and a monster, he’s a lawyer and a vigilante, and it’s very difficult to reconcile how those two things can co-exist.
One of the things that I liked that we explored a bit was: when he puts on this mask, his intentions are good, his intentions are to help the people who need help, and to make a difference in his city. The problem and the drawback is that when he puts on the mask, he can’t guarantee how far he’s going to go, and when he’s going to finish and when he’s going to get home, and how beat up he’s going to be. It’s like he goes into a black-out and all bets are off.
I would love for Daredevil – well, me – to be involved. I’d love him to show up in the New Avengers, and show up in the cinematic universe as well. Just now I’m so grateful just to be included at all: I’m looking forward to the Defenders and if they end up making a Daredevil movie, or a Defenders movie or include those characters in those other Avengers movies, that’s an added bonus – an amazing added bonus, but at this point just a bonus.
Would bringing him in be difficult for younger fans wanting to get into every part of the MCU given that Daredevil is very violent and the Marvel movies are not?
That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. If you read Civil War, Daredevil is in the background a lot and makes the odd comment here and there. He’s very much a support character to the more famous Avengers. I think he maintains that kind of sinister quiet aloofness. He’s also not capable of a lot of the same feats as those guys are. He ends up infiltrating the enemy in that series and being a key part of the whole resolution, but it’s done not through violence but tactic.
I don’t imagine you could bring the same violence literally on screen. It would have to be more insinuated – it’s pretty brutal.
Yes, many many options! I’m theirs as long as they’ll have me – and happy to be. I had a f***ing great time and I would love to keep doing it.
They’re filming AKA Jessica Jones now – will we see you in that at all?
I don’t believe so. I think the idea is they’re trying to maintain some sort of anonymity to the four shows, so the coming together of the four of us for The Defenders is new and exciting.
You can’t really make Jessica Jones without Luke Cage [in the comics the characters are married], so they have to involve him in Jessica Jones, so I don’t think I will be appearing in that show. I don’t know for sure, though.
All 13 episodes of Daredevil are now available to screen via Netflix.
Thanks to Teresa Kowalski and Hannah Proudlock at DDA for their help in arranging this interview