Interviews

Interview: ‘Daredevil’ Star Charlie Cox Talks Eating Right, “Texas Workouts,” and Acting Blind

Marvel’s 'Daredevil' returns this week, and we caught up with Ol’ Horn Head himself to talk about his training routine for the role.

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A production still from Marvel's 'Daredevil'
Courtesy of Netflix

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched The Defenders yet, be warned—we spoil the best part of it here. 

Daredevil is returning to Netflix on October 19, and for fans of the series, the wait has been excruciating. We haven’t seen the character in action since the cliffhanger that closed out The Defenders miniseries, which capped off with a broken Matt Murdock in the care of a group of nuns, one of which is called "Sister Maggie," a name very familiar to fans of the comics. 

The moment was something of a callback to writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli's seminal “Born Again” storyline from the comics. And if you’ve ever read that, then you know why season three of Daredevil should be a homerun.

We talked to Matt Murdock/Daredevil himself, Charlie Cox, about what it takes to physically pull off both the look of a hardened vigilante and the mannerisms of a blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen.

M&F: Last we saw Daredevil, he’d narrowly survived an exploding building. What can we expect in season three?

CHARLIE COX: The most interesting aspect for this new season is the relationship that Matt Murdock has with god and his faith, and how that has changed since everything that happened in season two and in The Defenders. He has to rediscover his understanding of what god is, which makes a big difference in how he operates as a superhero. That journey for me was one of the most interesting things about season three.

Between Matt Murdock and Daredevil, does it feel like you're playing two roles?

Not in a schizophrenic way, but I do think of them as slightly different people. We all behave differently depending on what company we're with. We’re different with friends in a pub versus in our boss's office. I think of Daredevil in a similar way. When he puts on that suit and goes out at night to engage in vigilante justice, he's metaphorically and literally putting on a mask. He has to access a different part of himself and his psyche to do it.

How do you stay in shape for this very physical role?

When I got the role in 2014, I had to completely reinvent how I live. At the time, I would run and do yoga, but I never had much interest in putting on muscle. Now it’s become part of my life.

How so?

Currently I’m going to the gym about four times a week. I do what my trainer calls a “Texas workout.” We choose three exercises—like shoulder presses, chest presses, and squats—and do five reps of each continuously for 20 minutes. Then I repeat that two more times with different exercises, for a total of nine exercises over an hour. When you’re only doing five reps at a time, you can go for a long time. At the end, I’ve done a couple hundred presses or squats, which requires so much physical exertion that it also gets in your cardio. On days when I’m not doing that, I like hot yoga, swimming, and running.

What about fight training?

I’m lucky because Daredevil is more of a pub brawler than a martial artist. He knows lots of different forms, but his dad was a boxer and he loves to use his fists. So from a technique point of view, learning the choreography isn’t too hard. It's like a muscle—you get more competent the more you do it.

Does all that choreographed fighting translate to a real fight?

No, if anything I think I’d be more worried. Now I probably look like someone who can handle himself, which isn't a good thing because I can’t. And all the training I’ve done has been about making it look like you’re hitting someone without actually doing it. So if I got into a real fight, I’d be really scared that I’d just miss them by a few inches each time.

What’s your diet like these days?

When I got the job I quickly became aware of my protein intake. I never used to think about that, but now I'm always thinking, "Where am I getting my protein?" I usually eat egg whites for breakfast, and I eat as much fish as I can. I'll have a hamburger or steak maybe once a week, but I stick to fish and chicken mostly. Partly for health reasons and also for environmental reasons, I'll usually have meat or fish one meal a day and the other two will be vegetarian meals.

Are there any acting nuances to playing a blind character?

The blind aspect of the character is fundamental, so it was very important to me to get that right—for the character, but also because Daredevil is immensely popular within the visually impaired community. I wanted to do him justice. I work with a gentleman who's been legally blind for 20 years. We talk a lot, and he would show me different aspects of operating as a blind man. Questions come up all the time, so we have an ongoing conversation about it.

Do you have a dream role, or a Daredevil crossover you’d like to star in?

Daredevil the Musical. I’d love to do something big on Broadway or in London's West End. But it'll never happen because I can't sing.

Anything else before you go?

Yeah, when you add my photo to the magazine, please just take a picture of Henry Cavill and put my face on it.

Daredevil season 3 premieres on Netflix on Friday, October 19. 

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