To promote the premiere of Daredevil Season 2 at Netflix on March 18th, the cast and showrunners were at the TCA Press Tour to preview what fans can expect from the characters next. With Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) having grown into the role of the vigilante Daredevil, the attention that he’s received has been noticed by both the public and the police, inspiring other vigilantes to enact their own vengeance for injustice around the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
During their panel and at a small roundtable interview, actress Elodie Yung (“Elektra”) and executive producer Jeph Loeb, who is also the Head of Marvel Television, talked about why now was the right time to introduce Elektra and The Punisher into the world of Hell’s Kitchen, the top secret audition process, how collaborative the experience has been, who this version of Elektra is, action sequences, and not approaching this character introduction as a set-up for spin-offs. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Question: Jeph, when did you know that now was the right time to bring Elektra and The Punisher into the story?
JEPH LOEB: Right at the top. The most important thing for us, in talking to Doug [Petrie] and Marco [Ramirez], the showrunners, was what was the next step for Matt Murdock. If Season 1 was, “I want to be a hero,” then Season 2 became, “Okay, now that I’ve made the decision, what is it to be a hero?” The best way for us to be able to determine that was to offer him people who were doing the job similarly, but not necessarily the same way that he does it. We wanted to first bring Frank Castle into the picture, who has a very clear way of how he thinks justice needs to be doled out, and then bring in Elektra, who has an emotional component to Matt, in that we never forget our first love, and test him by having someone who lives in the grey, and not the black and white, where Frank is very black and white. So, it really pulled Matt in very interesting ways. The biggest challenge for us was to find an actor who could be both his first love and extremely dangerous. That was really hard until we met Elodie, and then it was really easy.
Elodie, what was the process like for getting this role, and when did you even find out the role that you were being considered for?
ELODIE YUNG: After I had five or six rounds of auditions. I had two great scenes to read. I didn’t even know it was for Daredevil. Everything is so top secret. So, I just had two great scenes to prepare for the audition, and I was very excited just to go in the room and do that. And then, I had to meet them, over and over and over again. Every time, they would give me notes and I would learn a little bit more about who this girl was without knowing it was for Elektra. Without knowing who she was, you could go many ways in the scenes. I probably kept doing something that was closer to who I am because if you don’t know, you should just go with who you are and enjoy yourself. I wouldn’t say that I’m nice, but I’m nicer than Elektra, so I wanted to know what they wanted. Jeph was like, “No, she’s not a nice girl. Just keep the nice girl in the closet.” At the last audition with Charlie [Cox], I knew it was for Elektra. Luckily, I was a big fan of the series. I’ve never read any comics, so I’m not very familiar with tall of that. But as soon as I knew, I had watched the series, so I was good for that. They used me if I knew Elektra and the comics, and I was like, “No, not really.” You have to be honest. So, I started discovering this amazing world. I found a really old copy of Elektra’s Assassin, which was the first thing that I read. When you read the first issue, you don’t understand anything. It is very complex and very dark. I was excited.
How do you feel about being a part of the comic book world now?
YUNG: It was a very collaborative work. At first, I thought, “Okay, I’m stepping into the Marvel world. Am I going to be a puppet? Do they want me to do exactly what they think Elektra is?” Actually, it wasn’t like that. It was quite the opposite.
LOEB: One of the things that’s very important to us is that, in many ways, the people we look at are not familiar with the original comics, so it gives them an opportunity to bring to it what they would naturally do. You just have to figure out if that’s the right way of going. Elodie’s natural instincts are not to be the bad girl, but as an actress, she was capable of finding that. What makes Elektra so disarming is that there has to be a sense of elegance and charm, and it has to be someone you feel has traveled the world, so that Matt, Hell’s Kitchen’s son of a boxer from a working class Irish family, would really shine as two different people who were caught in this love story that would confuse him and complicate his world. That’s what Elodie brought in spade, and what Charlie was able to play against for us.
Who is this incarnation of Elektra?
YUNG: We think Elektra is a sociopath. This world is a game for her. It’s like a chess game, and what motivates her is what she wants. She’ll use anything she needs to use to get to her goal, and if she needs to kill people, she will. She has this coldness in her, and I tried to keep that. But on the other hand, we wanted to create a character with different layers. I think Elektra isn’t a bad person, but she’s not a good person. She’s a person with different traits, with layers, and she’s seeking who she is. In this season, there’s an arc to her story. Hopefully, she’ll find we’ll find out who she is, by the end of it.
We’ve seen a very traditional Daredevil costume for Matt Murdock now. Are we likely to see one for Elektra before Season 2 is over?
YUNG: There’s definitely a costume.
What sort of accent will Elektra have?
LOEB: When you see the show, it just sounds like Elektra. That’s the best way I can describe it.
YUNG: I always work with a coach. That’s just a personal thing that I like to do. During interviews, you’ll hear more of my accent and I’ll stress the wrong words. There are little things that I would do like a French girl. For Elektra, I just wanted to be very clear. She’s traveled the world. She didn’t go to boarding school, but that’s the type of girl that she’d be. So, I just wanted to make sure that I could bring that to her, which goes through the language.
Season 1 set a high bar for action scenes with some amazing stand-out sequences. How did you live up to that in Season 2, and what type of action scenes will Elektra be involved in?
YUNG: I still have some bruises!
LOEB: It helps that Elodie, herself, has knowledge of martial arts, to begin with. It was just a gift that came with the package of the actress. But in terms of setting a high bar, for us, it’s always going to be what tells the best story. We don’t want to ever feel like the show stops when you do a musical number, and then the show goes on. The action has to come from a very grounded and real place. And the story that we’re telling and the relationship between Daredevil and Elektra is what drives them into their action, but it’s always with this edge of how far she’s going to push him and how far he can try to bring her back. As long as those two things are continually happening, it adds a different element than just Daredevil going and beating up a bunch of different people. There’s an underpinning that’s different from the first season.
Do you feel like there’s more of a place for women in superhero and comic book stories?
YUNG: I’m lucky to play Elektra. So far, it’s the most exciting part I’ve ever had to play. I’ve done the physicality a bit before and I enjoy it. I like to train and do it right. But, it’s also a very complex character. She’s a very independent woman. She has her own agenda. She’s not the girlfriend of someone. I feel very lucky to be able to play her, and hopefully, people will find stronger female characters like her, or Jessica Jones.
LOEB: For Marvel, we’ve never looked at any of our characters in terms of gender, race or religion. It truly is about, who is the best character for the story? If that character happens to be a woman, fantastic. When we were doing Jessica Jones and we started talking about the character of Jeri Hogarth, in the comics, that character is a 50-year-old white guy. When we started talking about who could play that part, the idea of Carrie-Anne Moss playing that role defined that role and it changed it for us in a way that made it a story about a woman who was having an affair and was destroying a marriage, as opposed to a man who was having an affair and destroying a marriage. In Daredevil, it was incredibly important to us that not only Elektra but Karen, played by Deborah Ann Woll, never felt like the girlfriend. She had to have a story that was her own and that really felt like she had earned her place as part of the ongoing tapestry that is Daredevil’s story. This is not entirely new to Marvel. This is something that we’ve been doing. Whether it’s Black Widow of Miss Marvel or Captain Marvel or Jessica Jones or Elektra, we really do believe in strong female empowerment. With all of our characters, we want them to be aspirational. Regardless of whether or not you are seduced by Elektra’s charms, the challenge that she brings to Matt and to the story, in terms of how you’re a hero, what you fight for and what you believe in, has nothing to do with whether you’re a man or a woman. It has to do with what you’re doing as a hero.
When you bring in characters like Elektra and The Punisher who have enough of their own story to just explore their story, do you think of it as an introduction into their world for possible future spin-off stories, or are you just thinking about what they bring to Daredevil?
LOEB: The first conversation was about, what is the next step in Matt’s life? How does Matt move from being someone who is a vigilante to someone who now wants to be a hero? The best way for us to do that was not for him to continue to do what he was doing in the first season, but to see that there are other people who do this job and challenge him in that job. So, it wasn’t a question of whether or not we were introducing Elektra and The Punisher. It was what Elektra and The Punisher brought to Matt that made the story worthwhile. It was always Daredevil’s story. It was always, how does this affect him, how does it affect Karen, how does it affect Foggy, and how does it affect their world, in the same way that, in Season 1, as strong as a performance and as extraordinary a character Fisk was in Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal as him, it was always in reaction to Matt Murdock as Daredevil. So, these two characters bring out the best in our hero.
Daredevil Season 2 will premiere at Netflix on March 18th.