Two years ago the English actor had never picked up a weight. Now he’s Marvel’s newest screen superhero
The British actor talks about becoming Marvel Comics’ latest hero, Daredevil
If you’ve seen Charlie Cox on screen before – as Boardwalk Empire’s friendly IRA man, for instance, or The Theory Of Everything’s amiable choirmaster – he probably didn’t strike you as the dark, brooding type. But now he’s the flawed hero in Marvel’s new Daredevil TV series – and to prepare for the role the Londonborn Cox went full leotard, hitting the barbells and bags to craft a physique worthy of lawyer/vigilante Matt Murdoch.
First things first: it seems as if every Marvel franchise comes with a shirtoff scene. Was it intimidating to know you’d be going up against Captain America and Thor?
Well, Daredevil doesn’t have any superpowers, so it’s not out of the question that he could have more of a Bruce Lee physique. I was about 72kg and quite skinny coming in, and producer Steven DeKnight said, ‘We’d love it if we could get you to 175lb [80kg]’. I started eating tons of chicken, broccoli, sweet potato, rice and pasta. I put carbohydrates in all my protein shakes, so I’d have a protein shake with sweet potato in it. It’s actually really nice.
Sounds like you must have a really good blender. Did Marvel set you up with a trainer too?
They set me up with this no-joke gym. I felt like a little boy. I was introduced to a trainer and at first I just did what I was told, but then I gradually developed an interest in it. Even though we wrapped over two months ago I’ve kept it up. I really enjoy the process.
What’s a typical workout for you?
I did the major body parts once or twice a week and then a full-body workout to keep me lean. I’d turn up, run for five minutes, then do chest and back exercises, then run for five minutes and so on. You develop a real sweat and you know you’re getting a major workout. I had to stop using the prowler, though, because it made me want to vomit. I fucking hate it.
Daredevil’s also one of Marvel’s premier ass-kickers. How much of that did you actually do?
As much as they’d let me. I love that stuff, but I’m not a trained fighter so my technique isn’t brilliant. In every fight scene they found pieces for me to do that I could pick up pretty quickly, then they make it look good in the edit. My stunt double Chris was amazing and the mask means you can get away with a lot, but we really tried to use as much of me as possible.
Daredevil seems quite dark compared with the rest of the Marvel Universe…
It is intended to be much darker. There’s a lot of blood, and thematically it’s much more adult. In the Daredevil comics many of the famous series are very dark. I think a lot of Marvel fans will be thrilled.
OK, final question: what’s your number one tip for a busy man – a lawyer with no superpowers, say – who wants to get in better shape?
Here are the things that helped me. First, find out what time of the day you train best at. I can’t go to the gym at 5.30. I just can’t. I’d much rather go at 10pm. Second, you have to get through the first week. Get past the point where it hurts and you’re walking like John Wayne because you’re so sore, and then you’re in. The last thing is that if you can’t get out of the house, do something like the Insanity workout. I put one of those DVDs on and it absolutely destroys me. If you’re just looking to get a sweat on and lose a bit of weight, do that two or three times a week and you’re golden. Daredevil is on Netflix from 10th April
‘you have to get past the point where it hurts’