It’s impossible to talk about Daredevil for very long without bringing up Frank Miller, the writer and artist whose tenure on Daredevil comics with Klaus Janson in the ’70s and ’80s essentially changed the comic-book game, turning a straightforward superhero comic into a stylish, rain-slick crime epic. And it’s impossible to talk about Frank Miller’s Daredevilwithout bringing up the character he created in the first Daredevil story he had total control over: Elektra Natchios, Daredevil’s former lover-turned-deadly assassin who would complicate his life in any number of dangerous ways.
To get a little insight as to how Daredevil would reinvent one of the most iconic women in comics, we reached out to Élodie Yung herself to talk about how she went about building this version of Elektra, the reception by comics fans, and whether or not Charlie Cox is any good at fighting.
The audition process was quite [intense]. It was very much about the work, the acting, and I really enjoyed that. It was a blind audition. I didn’t know much about the character or the plot so I was very free in the audition, because I could just explore different sides of the text, and they’d throw ideas at me and say “No, maybe go more like this, or more like that,” so I could just build this character progressively.
Then when I knew … I was watching the show, so I knew Daredevil, but I had no clue who Elektra was, so it was a very good surprise for me to get a part so interesting to play. So in-depth, so intense, so complex.
__Yes, you definitely get the chance to build your own version of Elektra on this show. What was that like? __
Thing I didn’t want to do was—well, she can be an archetype. She’s quite strong and has very defined traits in the comics, and you can easily go for the caricature of it. And I didn’t want that. I wanted to make her human. I wanted to make her real. So that’s why it is our own version, it’s my version, but what was important to me was to make her exist … [be more than] the dark girl, or the bloody one. You can easily fall into these traps. The show is about relationships between people; it’s about having characters that are real people, with blood and flesh and feelings.
What do you think is the most important aspect of your version of Elektra?
She is someone who has some violence in her—that’s [part of] her nature, almost, and [also] what she’s been through. It’s a mix of what she is at the origin, and who she became because what she’s gone through in her life. So having a mix between this violence and this almost redemption she’s looking for, the good. Not that she’s conscious of it when she meets Matt, but he has an impact on her and she is looking for goodness. She loves the darkness in him, that’s what she says. But she also says, “You have this light in you, and you can see it in me, Matthew, and you’re probably the only person who can see it.”
She’s almost her own worst enemy in a way, and the complexity is very interesting for me to play.
She’s also a fighter, so you get to express that character in a very physical way.
Yeah, exactly! It was very fun, and as you say—[the story is told] through the drama, with the other actors, but the beauty of the show is that the action is also here to tell a story. I would ask to tweak stuff during the action, because I thought Elektra would more likely express herself with a slap, for example. I wanted to keep the characteristics of my character even during the fights, and express the violence as she would do it, not like somebody else would.
Because sometimes action can be too, Okay, this is the moment, this is the action. Explosion, blood, punch, kick—and that’s not really interesting. In the show we really try to keep the characters alive through the action. In Daredevil, you can really see the conflict we have—the fine line he tries not to cross when he punches people; he fights with this. That’s his problem throughout this season: What are my limits?
And Elektra, she goes for it! She can be a bitch; she is violent, she expresses herself this way, in fights. It’s enjoyable. Because through that you continue telling the story. It’s not boring.
You have a martial arts background. How much fighting did you get to do?
We got to do everything—and our stunt doubles get to do everything as well, so that in the edit room they have more choices. All of us we had to go through it at least once a week, because the show—it’s ten days or twelve per episode—there’s always at least one action scene. One day a week we have our workout, twelve hours of shooting. We have our superhero costumes, and our weapons, and we go through the fights.
We didn’t have much time to rehearse, so it was through the day that we learned the choreography. We’d learn it and tweak it—it’s quite intense.
__How good a fighter is Charlie Cox? __ Oh, he’s amazing. He’s been working so hard. I feel bad sometimes, because I’d feel quite lazy. He’d be like “Élodie! Come train with me!” and I’d be like “Yeeeeah, but you know, we have long hours, and I need my sleeeep.” But he was on it, he’d train by himself and do the whole choreography. And I don’t think he’s ever had physical parts like this before, so he really committed to the training. The fight scenes and the action—when I watch the show, I’m quite impressed.
Thanks to this show, you’re also dealing with comics fans, who can be very different and very direct. What’s that been like?
It seems like people have recieved [Elektra] well! And I’d like to meet more people. They seem to be really passionate about the character, and I like that. It seems like these fans, they just embrace and love the characters. It’s just pure love and passion about them. And if they hate me, then they hate me! That’s okay as well!