Earlier this year, Netflix invited a group of journalists to the Brooklyn set of Marvel’s Daredevil. The streaming network was deep into production on season 3, so we got a great sense of a story that seems to be a return to basics of sorts for the superhero series after the mystical, Hand-based madness of season 2 and The Defenders. In addition to getting a glimpse of Matt Murdock’s new church basement hideout and Wilson Fisk’s fresh-out-of-jail penthouse apartment, we got a chance to talk to stars Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, and Joanne Whalley—who plays a new character, Sister Maggie—who all seemed genuinely jazzed about the grittier street-level direction new showrunner Erik Oleson is taking the series.
Below, Deborah Ann Woll discusses Karen Page’s reaction to Matt Murdock’s death, finding her place as an investigative journalist, why she’s “fucking terrified” of Wilson Fisk’s return to New York, why Marvel Netflix characters can no longer get coffee, and much more.
Question: We heard that your new costuming makes you look “fucking fierce.”
DEBORAH ANN WOLL: Oh, yeah? Well, cool. I guess so? I thought the old look was really fucking fierce! I had this big thing that I think we start to take things that were traditionally feminine and label them as weak and I just didn’t want to be a party to that. I wanted it to feel like, “Hey, you can kick ass whether you’re in pants or a skirt.” My big thing was I wanted her to be tough and fierce and amazing no matter what she’s wearing.
What can you tell us about Karen this season, what’s going on with her?
WOLL: Oh boy. Well, obviously, people will remember from The Defenders, as far as Foggy and I are concerned, Matt’s dead. So that’s kind of the first half of the season, dealing with the grief of that. Or do you believe it or not, the denial of it. And then do you keep fighting? Do you take on this fight that you think killed your friend and keep pushing on? Of course Karen will never let go. It’s really digging into the investigative journalist profession that I found myself in after last season. Wilson Fisk is back, which is very exciting. We have two new characters who are amazing. I think for me, the most fun has been that we really start to open up Karen’s past and a lot of the mysteries, the hints that have been dropped and we haven’t really filled those in. They’ve done an amazing job. I could not have asked for a better backstory. We had two different showrunners. So they had to take all the little hints and pieces that other people laid for them and then create something that they thought worked well. I was so thrilled with what they came up with.
One of my favorite things ever from Karen is when she had to kill to survive in season one, is that something that’s going to be explored?
WOLL: Yeah, we’ll definitely learn a little bit more about why those were her instincts instead of something else, like what would have maybe been better, like just pointing a gun at him and calling the cops. We will get a sense of why shooting someone and covering it up is a bit more in her wheelhouse. We get a little bit of that. For me, through the different showrunners and all the different backstories that I heard, the main thread that I asked every single showrunner along the way was like, “Please don’t say I shot someone to save a busload of kids.” I want whatever happened to be something that was my fault. That this isn’t a story about misplaced guilt, this is a story about forgiveness and acceptance. That I did something really wrong and the rest of my life has been about atoning for it. Every story that I wrote about justice and truth and about opening your mind to different types like Frank Castle or Daredevil, it’s all about, “How do I make up for the awful things that I have done by being the most light and the most truthful and the most helpful I can be?” All of that drive in her is derived from something.
One of the chestnuts of being a journalist is “Don’t become the story,” but so much happens to Karen, do you think she’s ever worried?
WOLL: It’s almost like unwittingly I do it on purpose? Because I don’t want to let go, like, “You can’t do the story, it’s my story. I’m the only one who can…” That’s a bit of the weakness in it, is I can’t let it go. I don’t trust anyone else to do it right. Someone else might be biased or influenced by Fisk, it’s hard to know who to trust. So I think Karen’s weakness is she always wants to be in the middle of it. It’s kind of a cool strength weakness thing.
It’s kind of a control freak type of thing. Is that going to be delved into?
WOLL: Sure. As we look in the past and see the varying levels of control and out-of-controlness that Karen has experienced, I do buy that there’s a sense of, if I let go for a second, everything falls apart. So I better hold on to it and I better make sure this is done right because consequences can be awful. And they still are this season. A lot of what Karen deals with is, “I keep trying to do the right thing and yet people still die. They die on my watch and even sometimes because of me.”
What is Karen’s reaction to Wilson Fisk’s return to New York?
WOLL: Really fucking terrified. I killed his best friend. He doesn’t know it yet, that’s a good thing. It was funny, they kept saying, “Play the paranoia. We definitely want to work up the paranoia.” It’s not paranoia if it’s real! If he’s really going to kill you if he finds out, that’s not paranoia. That’s real fear. We definitely play with that. I finally got to do a scene with Vincent and it was fantastic. We were both so excited because he killed my Ben Urich and I killed his James Wesley so we have a mutual hate, I guess. Very Shakespearian mutual disgust for each other. But as actors, I think we both have tremendous respect for each other and the opportunity to get to play with him in this brilliantly flamboyant performance he gives, which is very much a contrast to Karen. So it was great to get both of those energies in a room and see how they play off each other. It was a great day. There was like a snowstorm out when we shot it. We felt very much like we were all stuck in this little soundstage, the winds were roaring outside, emotions were roaring inside. It was cool.