Daredevil’s Charlie Cox on his Netflix show & Off Broadway play ‘Incognito’
Charlie Cox – More Than a Superhero
Charlie Cox may now be best known in the Marvel Television Universe as Daredevil, but he’s been a working actor for fifteen years. Born in London, Cox studied at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before building a successful career in the UK. The handsome actor has tackled a variety of roles, delivering warm, charming performances. His turn as Owen Sleater, an Irish gangster on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, helped him get noticed in America, and opened the door for his casting as the title character for the hot Netflix series.
As the blind lawyer Matt Murdock, Cox consistently creates a performance that balances the brutality with moments of tenderness and sensitivity. After completing his successful season two of Daredevil, Cox is now about to embark on his first American theatre experience in the Off Broadway show 'Incognito.'
We were lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Cox during a recent afternoon trip to Brooklyn. Here’s what he had to say in the first of a two-part feature.
Diane Cooney: How did you get involved with this production of Incognito?
Charlie Cox: I said to my agents “ I want to do a play. Can you really try and find me a play.?” Just because, I wanted to stay in New York, I just wanted to do some theatre. It’s one of those things, if you don’t seek it out, if you’re lucky enough to being doing TV and film and stuff, if you don’t seek it out, ten years go by, and you haven’t done any theatre.
And this is the first thing they sent me. It’s kind of one of those things, where I thought I’d have to read five or six things. Obviously, I knew who Nick Payne was. I hadn’t seen Constellations but I knew who he was. And it’s funny, because they described it to me, my agents said, “This is what it’s kind of about,” and I thought “Bo-ring! That’s sounds such a yawn.” And I read it, and of course, it’s so not that. So it’s been interesting talking about it – having conversations about how you describe this play. If you say it’s about the guy who stole Einstein’s brain, and whatever, it’s not that interesting. The structure of the play is just fascinating. From an actor’s point of view, the thrill of playing six different characters and seamlessly hopefully going in and out of these characters is really fun.
DC: How do you maintain your stamina for the show?
CC: I don’t know. I guess I’m going to figure that out. When we get up and running, at the moment we’re kind of, we’re still rehearsing during the day and doing a show at night. As my memory serves me correctly, the matinee days are the hard days. Because you do a matinee, you wait and then you do another show. But I think you kind of have a lull, and you say, “God I’m really tired.” But as soon as you start the show, the adrenaline kicks in. The great thing is, it’s an hour and a half show.
DC: What excited you about returning to the theater?
CC: One of the main reasons, I just remember, it’s such a lovely life for an actor, doing a play. When you’re doing TV and film, you shot a different scene every day, so you’re consistently having to prepare, because you’ve consistently having a different scene coming up, you’re never….you’re very rarely reshooting a scene, almost never. And with the theatre, in a play, once you’re up and running, the work is done, pretty much. And you can make some changes, and you’re adapting, and you’re trying to keep it fresh and all those things. I’ll do a show on Sunday afternoon, and I’ll have Sunday night, all of Monday, all of Tuesday until 7 pm. It’s so nice. You’re working, so you have… not much…(laughs) but you have some money coming in. But you’re not constantly having to prepare.
DC: How many accents are you doing in the show?
CC: I’m doing three different British accents, I’m doing a what I would call present day Received Pronunciation (RP), I’m doing heightened RP, so, someone who’s of an older generation, a posh older generation, I’m during a current Londony accent. I guess how my friends speak – how me and my friends speak, which is different from the RP. I’m doing Australian, a very generic Australian, and I’m doing two Americans, but there kind of the same the two Americans, and I’m doing Austrian as well, which is pretty fun.
DC: Do you have a standard process to prepare for accents?
CC: Funny enough, accents have never been a strong point for me. Its just happens I’ve done a lot. When it comes to accents, I’m a very hard worker. I really…spend the time doing it. Weirdly from Boardwalk Empire and then you know, Daredevil, and a couple of other things I’ve done, I’m kind of known for doing accents, which is kind of strange.
It’s much more about the technical side of it than people think. People think it’s about hearing it and then being able to do it. For me it’s about muscle memory. There are certain sounds you just have to learn to create in your mouth, a different way. And once you nail that down, it can be a long, long process.
DC: What draws you to your characters?
CC: I’m always much more interested in the moments of vulnerability in characters. And often revealing your heart, is the most vulnerable you’ll ever be, much more vulnerable than….when you’re in danger. True vulnerability is….when it’s matters of the heart. I’ve always found that really fun to explore. Done well, it’s so much more dangerous than any other situation. There’s so much more at stake.
That’s what I really like about doing Daredevil. When I read the script, I was like, wow, here’s a superhero that’s seriously vulnerable. That was kind of the selling point for me.
DC: When you were training for Daredevil, was there any point where you surprised yourself by what you could do?
CC: In terms of the actual sequences, I’m much better at that stuff than I thought I was going to be. I knew I would be ok…when I was a kid all I wanted to do was sports. I’m able to pick up the moves, and also do them relatively well technically, which is cool, which is really fun.
Stay tuned to Philly2Philly for Part 2 of our interview with Charlie Cox!
Incognito is at the Manhattan Theatre Club currently in previews and officially opens May 24.
You can purchase tickets here.
Daredevil photo: www.wegotthiscovered.com
Charlie Cox photo: Diane Cooney