The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Yung about bringing Elektra to life, whether or not she’s actually a sociopath like her creator Frank Miller intended her to be and more.
Before you signed on to Daredevil, had you seen the 2005 Elektra movie?
I had not. I had no idea who Elektra was. When the producers asked me before I booked the job, I had to tell them. It was a great surprise when I actually got the job. I did some research before the last round of auditions, and that’s when I got really excited because she’s such a rich, complex character.
What kind of research?
I read the comics. I got Elektra: Assassin and that’s where I learned that she was a tortured soul. She’s been through a lot and was possibly psychologically unstable. I learned about the psychology behind Elektra and that excited me. And then I read the Daredevil comics, especially when they met because I wanted to get an understanding of the relationship between Elektra and Matthew. That gave me a lot of elements that I could take and include in the Elektra we were creating for the show. I wanted to respect what was done before as much as possible and capture the essence of all these versions of Elektra.
How did the writers’ approach to the character change from what Jennifer Garner did?
I never saw the movie, but it definitely added another layer to the character’s history. We’re adapting something from one medium to another. The drawing and writing of the comics get transferred and transported to this series, so there will be some changes. I wanted to understand what [Frank] Miller wanted to do and hoped we managed to honor that. The writers and I put our own twist and ideas into it. They wanted her to be more of a sociopath. I had to read and learn what a sociopath is and, though I think she has elements of it, she’s not completely a sociopath because Elektra is capable of love. Miller always said Elektra is a villain that has a weak streak in her, and that weak streak is the love she had once for Matthew. That made her more human and less of a monster or sociopath as the writers wanted me to depict her as.
How will your version be different from the comics?
I definitely added layers. This is not the story of Elektra from the comics. We’re telling the story of Daredevil. In this aspect, the storylines accentuate the sociopathic tendencies in her. The writers wanted to highlight that Elektra is quite manipulative and doesn’t seem to have a conscience. But what will change about her is that yes, we’re telling Matt’s story and Elektra returning to his life has an impact on his actions, but Matthew will have an impact as well on Elektra. She’ll start to question her own actions and she’ll change.
When Elektra shows up in Matt’s apartment for the first time, the tension between them is palpable. What’s their cat-and-mouse relationship like?
Elektra is definitely the cat in this relationship. (Laughs.) They met when they were young, and she thought he was one more guy without any taste. She thought she’d have no interest in him. She’s quite bored. But he caught her attention and she was hooked and they fell in love. Their relationship, there’s a lot of passion there. They seem to be very different, but maybe deep down, they are quite similar and that’s where their bond comes from. She comes across as being the bad girl and he comes across as being the good guy, but maybe they’re both somewhere in the middle. Maybe Matthew isn’t that good and maybe Elektra isn’t that bad. They complete each other.
We learn in episode five how Elektra and Matt met 10 years ago and what happened between them when they broke up. What will viewers see from those flashbacks?
You see that they have something in common and that’s why they fell in love. But Elektra thought that they were completely similar, and they were the same person deep down. This is where they clashed. There’s a line that Matthew isn’t willing to cross because he is different from her. I don’t want to say too much, but the moment, the scene in which they separate, will tell a lot about her character. And his too. That’s where we’ll learn exactly who she is and why Matthew couldn’t carry on with this relationship. It’s also the reason why she couldn’t carry on with this relationship despite the love they had for each other.