The Devil Un­masked

Char­lie Cox on play­ing a blind su­per­hero and his favourite off-screen ac­tiv­i­ties

Augustman - - Journal - WORDS TER­ENCE RUIS PHOTO NET­FLIX

ON MY WAY TO IN­TER­VIEW CHAR­LIE COX, my stom­ach is rum­bling so hard it surely wouldn’t take some­one with Matt Mur­dock’s su­per­hu­man hear­ing to catch. Lucky for me, I’m early and there’s a 7-Eleven nearby. Just as I fish out a note to pay for the sand­wich, my mo­bile phone buzzes vi­o­lently from an un­known num­ber. It’s Cox’s me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tive. I tell her I’m close and shove half the sand­wich into my mouth as I cross back over. The wait­ing room I’m shown to looks like Net­flix has thrown up all over it. It’s cov­ered in mer­chan­dise and posters of Cox’s on-screen per­sona, Dare­devil. As I’m thumb­ing through my notes and ques­tions, a young woman en­ters the room and tells me, “He’s ready for you.” In the next room, Cox stands up and ex­tends his hand. He is built. That much is ap­par­ent even through the loose white but­ton-down he has on. How ac­tors have the time to work out is be­yond me. We sink into large leather arm­chairs and chat. I have only 15 min­utes. Could he tell that Dare­devil was go­ing to be some­thing spe­cial? “You never can know about these things,” he says. “What I no­ticed when I read the first few scripts was that the writ­ing was re­ally in­ter­est­ing ‒ it was so so­phis­ti­cated in fact that it didn’t read like any­thing I imag­ined a script for a su­per­hero se­ries would.” He goes on to ex­plain how the di­a­logue feels nat­u­ral, the char­ac­ters are rounded and be­liev­able, and that there’s re­ally so much that hap­pens on the set that makes his con­tri­bu­tion small by com­par­i­son. “Like the edit­ing, the cin­e­matog­ra­phy, and the mu­sic. I was re­ally blown away with what ev­ery­one did on the show to make it what it is,” Cox beams with a pride that is de­rived from do­ing a good job. De­spite re­ceiv­ing con­stant praise for his act­ing abil­i­ties, the 33-year-old re­mains mod­est, ad­mit­ting that por­tray­ing a blind per­son is a tough thing to do. “In real life, if you don’t suf­fer from vi­sion loss, you draw emo­tion from other peo­ple through their eyes. And if you’re try­ing to tell some­one that you’re sad, or happy, or an­gry, you do so much of it with your eyes as well,” he ex­plains. Of course, with Matt Mur­dock, Cox and his fel­low cast mem­bers don’t get this lux­ury, so drum­ming up emo­tions has been tricky. “I didn’t an­tic­i­pate that and it con­tin­ues to be some­thing I work on,” he says thought­fully. Of all the Marvel su­per­heros, Dare­devil has to be the most ap­peal­ing be­cause un­der that suit (which is pretty com­fort­able ac­cord­ing to Cox) is a man any­one can re­late to. “I think of Matt as a hu­man be­ing first. If you’re not care­ful, there is a ten­dency to play su­per­heroes as su­per-hu­man,” he leans in. “I wanted to make sure we had the right bal­ance of all the good and bad qual­i­ties ‒ so Matt is emo­tion­ally un­avail­able, stub­born, ar­ro­gant, but he’s also coura­geous, and im­mensely kind.” With only a few min­utes left, I de­cide to pry into his off-screen life, as he keeps a lower pro­file than most ac­tors. Like a true Brit, he loves watch­ing and play­ing football. He tells me he’s an Arse­nal fan, even though it’s a lit­tle em­bar­rass­ing to ad­mit be­cause of the ter­ri­ble sea­son they’re hav­ing. When he does get time off from film­ing, he also likes back­pack­ing. “I love see­ing dif­fer­ent parts of the world. I’ve trav­elled up the east coast of Africa, spent time in South and Cen­tral Amer­ica, and also been to Asia a lit­tle bit.” And like the typ­i­cal Sin­ga­porean jour­nal­ist, I asked him that ques­tion. “Oh, we went out for chilli crab and pep­per crab last night, and they were fan­tas­tic. I like seafood, so I re­ally en­joyed them. There’s not been much time but I’m get­ting a sense of Sin­ga­pore through its food. I re­ally want to try some street food, so I’ll def­i­nitely come back.” As I munch on the re­main­der of my sand­wich out­side the ho­tel, I feel like I’ve had a nice chat with an old friend. And that’s ex­actly what the man be­hind the Devil’s mask is like.

OUT­DOOR GIGS

If Char­lie Cox hadn’t gone into act­ing, he would likely be work­ing out­doors. His favoured al­ter­na­tive ca­reer choices are land­scape gar­den­ing and travel writ­ing. He at­tributes this to spend­ing too much time in stu­dios.

I think of Matt as a hu­man be­ing first. If you’re not care­ful, there is a ten­dency to play su­per­heroes as su­per-hu­man Catch sea­son 2 of Mar­vel’s Daredevil on Net­flix

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