Daredevil on screen, careful off screen

Charlie Cox poses next to a mural of his television character Daredevil on a wall in Club Street. The mural was created by British street artist Insa.
Charlie Cox poses next to a mural of his television character Daredevil on a wall in Club Street. The mural was created by British street artist Insa.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

British actor Charlie Cox is loath to speak ill of anyone, from Arsene Wenger to Ben Affleck

Charlie Cox, one of the latest actors to play a Marvel superhero, is only Daredevil by name on the small screen in the Netflix drama.

In person, and especially when fielding a press interview, the British actor is rather cautious.

Mincing his words, he is careful not to come even close to saying that British actors are better at mimicking the American accent - like he does on the show - than vice versa.

"If that is really true," he tells The Straits Times, "I think it may be because we grew up watching American TV. But for the Americans, it was only until recently with Downton Abbey that they really saw much British TV. So maybe we just had a lot more exposure to the American accent."

He is loath to speak ill of Arsene Wenger, the underperforming manager of Arsenal, the football club that he is a huge supporter of ("I would hate to see him fired, he's given some of the greatest memories for us as Arsenal fans").

Most pointedly of all, he says that Ben Affleck, who played Daredevil in the widely panned 2003 movie, "did a great job, but I think the tone (of the movie) suffered tonally".

He adds: "There were many things in it that I thought were great - visually, it had some really interesting things. But it's hard for me to compare the movie with our show, because it's so different."

Unlike Affleck's movie, the TV show, which plays on online streaming service Netflix, has been well received by fans so far.

Currently in its second season, the show is based on the Marvel Comics superhero Daredevil, who is blind lawyer Matt Murdock when he is not playing vigilante.

Critics have commended the show's intense action sequences, solid character development as well as the strong cast performances.

On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a 98 per cent approval rating from certified critics and a 96 per cent rating from general audiences.

The overwhelming praise heaped on the show does not seem to have inflated Cox's ego though. He says he did not take it for granted that Season 1 would be met with such warm reception. In fact, he still felt plenty of pressure when Season 2 debuted globally two weeks ago.

The bachelor, who was in town to promote the show, says: "The response was so positive for Season 1 that I thought I would feel more relaxed going into Season 2. But I care a great deal about the character and the show, so I felt even more pressure about how things would measure up to the quality we had.

"I didn't grow up reading comics and I'm a British actor, so I think fans at first had some reservations about my casting in the role. The good news is that fans have been very pleased with how the show has turned out. I'm very grateful that I got the chance to be a part of this world at all."

Pensive and utterly polite, he is also quick to deflect compliments to those around him.

Although he received the Helen Keller Achievement Award from the American Foundation For The Blind last year for his portrayal of a blind person, he gives credit to Mr Joe Strechay, a visually disabled person who coached the actor. The award promotes the "notable achievements of individuals and organisations that have improved quality of life for people with disabilities".

Cox says of Mr Strechay: "We worked together very closely and I studied him and asked him questions whenever I had any, and he was always incredibly accommodating.

"It's surprising to me how difficult certain things are. Like, just making a cup of tea - how do you pour boiling water into a mug and know when the mug is appropriately full? It's the tiny things that are very, very tricky."

It turns out that if there is any reason the New York-based actor would ever dislike being committed to a successful series such as Dare- devil, it is his love of English football.

"This is actually one of the only things I struggle with about living abroad. I just hate missing games."

•Daredevil is showing on Netflix.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2016, with the headline 'Daredevil on screen, careful off screen'. Print Edition | Subscribe