‘The Defenders’ Cast Explains Why Sigourney Weaver’s Mysterious Villain Is Their Most Dangerous Foe Yet
There’s an old saying that a hero is only as good as their villain, so when you’ve got four heroes, you better have one hell of a villain. With The Defenders, Netflix unites the stars of their Marvel Universe — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, most of whom are meeting for the first time after headlining their own series. The team of street-level heroes are teaming up to take on The Hand, and while Daredevil and Iron Fist have shown us plenty of the shadowy criminal organization, The Defenders is introducing a new foe to battle our team of heroes and she’s their most dangerous adversary yet.
In an impeccable piece of casting, Sigourney Weaver steps up for the role of Alexandra, the mysterious business woman who finds herself at odds with The Defenders. The details of Alexandra’s plans are being kept under lock and key until The Defenders debuts all eight episode on Netflix next month, but we do know that Alexandra is a power player in New York and, considering her relationship with the newly revived Elektra, you can bet she’s somehow tied up with The Hand.
While any mention of The Hand is likely to send half our team of heroes into a fighting frenzy, when we spoke with Weaver at Comic-Con, she insisted she doesn’t see Alexandra (or Elektra for that matter) as a villain.
“I don’t think we’re villains, we’re antagonists. Complex characters with other goals than their goals. What I love is — and I think this is true of what I saw in Daredevil too with Vincent D’Onofrio — His character, yes, he’s not on the same side as Daredevil, but he’s a very compelling character with a real history and a real reality to him. I felt they wanted to create the same idea with Alexandra. I tried to base her on actual, on what we thought would be an actual person in New York. A New Yorker with a great deal of wealth and experience, a patron of the arts. Very complex because I think the eight shows gives you a chance to develop things more than you would in a movie, which is one of the appeals to actors I think.
To make Alexandra the peak of power, Weaver looked to real life businessmen in New York for the way they carry their confidence and their indifference to the way their business dealings harm the world around them.
“She has a lot of confidence and a lot of assurance. Really, I based it on people I’ve met in New York who are in business and who are so powerful they don’t put a lot of effort into lording it over you. Nothing is that important to them except their own goals and their priorities. So they’re very offhand in a way about their power. They wear it very lightly even though it’s deep and dense…My role models for this were all men in business, actually. Men I’ve met who are great patrons of the art and all their money comes from fossil fuels or some awful other thing, and they think they’re terrific. They just love what they’re doing and they want to keep on doing it. And your objections to it because of the planet makes them giggle secretly inside.”
Oh, and she can also kick your ass. She probably won’t because she has people who do that kind of thing for her, but she absolutely could. Asked if she wanted more fight scenes or if she’s happy with the amount, Weaver said,
“I felt it was the right amount for Alexandra, because I feel like she has those skills but she’s at the point in her life where she’d rather talk. She doesn’t do all that. She has people to do that for her. She battles people a different way, using her wits, using her charm, and her intuition. I certainly was totally game to do whatever, and I have a red belt in karate, but that’s not really what they do. I think they had a different idea of Alexandra. But I do get in there when I have to. Sometimes they’re all over me. She has a lot of priorities and it was weighing what was most important at the moment.”
Finn Jones echoed those sentiments,
“She really believes in what she’s doing. And actuall, it’s quite sensible when you think about it. It’s not like an ‘evil plan,’ it actually kind of makes sense. Especially from Danny’s perspective, she knows how to prey on the individual’s weaknesses and with Danny, she knows he’s vulnerable, and she knows that above anything else he needs friends, and she knows how to tap into that. I think that makes her incredibly dangerous because she fucks around with [your head].”
Alexandra is dangerous enough on her own, but she’s also got an ace in the hole by her side in Elodie Yung‘s Elektra, the skilled assassin resurrected by The Hand as a deadly force known as “The Dark Sky”. And while Elektra is a remarkable weapon for Alexandra and her ends, the relationship is…. complicated.
“Certainly, [the relationship with Elektra] was the main reason I wanted to play the character because I think it surprises Alexandra, it’s really not something that she can control, and I think she likes that and hates that at the same time.”
When Elektra returns from the dead, she returns with no memory of her former life. Something that was thrilling for Yung to take on as a performer, even if she was a little sad to see the Elektra she created in Daredevil Season 2 go. But the actress also teases that she may not be gone for good.
“The interest for me was to explore what is it to be amnesiac and to be put here, and being given weapons, to be trained by someone I don’t know. Everything is brand new for Elektra so that was very interesting, to explore this side of it. And of course, as time goes, memory comes back. A little bit. So I got to have my Elektra back a little bit. So you’ll see it evolve over the episodes.”
If there’s one Defender who’s going to have a hard time battling Elektra, it’s Charlie Cox‘s Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, the man who loved Elektra when she lived and watched her die in his arms. Cox explained,
“I think that what’s painful for Matt is that when Elektra reappears, deep down he knows in his heart that whoever that is, it’s not her. But he manages to convince himself momentarily that it might be or that it could be or that she could come out of that. So she could be refound. I think he knows in his heart that he’s grasping on to an impossible dream and that if he were to find her, it’s not so much that he could have her or they could be together, but it’s more that maybe it would alleviate some of the guilt.”
“She doesn’t remember anything when she’s brought back to life, so Matthew is a stranger. He’s just part of this group that she has to fight. He’s a stranger a complete stranger, but maybe she still has him [in her heart]. I don’t know.”
We’ll see what’s in store for our heroes and (non-)villains when The Defenders drops on August 18. For now, check out Allison’s review.