We chat with Elodie Yung about Daredevil Season 2, becoming Elektra, and living up to fanboy expectations.
The promos and internet chatter about Daredevil Season 2 have been intensely focused on The Punisher, the forceful anti-hero that arrives to challenge Matt Murdock’s sense of justice and what it means to be a hero, but The Punisher isn’t the only Marvel heavyweight on hand for the Netflix series’ second season. Elodie Yung makes a surprising entrance as assassin Elektra, bringing even more turmoil to Hell’s Kitchen.
When Elektra (Yung) appears on Daredevil, she and Matt Murdock already have a complicated past. Choosing the worst possible time to remerge, just as Matt is in the midst of dealing with the murderous Frank Castle, Elektra arrives with her own designs on our hero. We got to speak with Yung by phone about Daredevil season two, how Elektra shakes things up, and the series’ intense action.
Den of Geek: Was your introduction at the end of that episode the first scene you shot?
Elodie Yung: Yes indeed, which is helpful because it’s not always the case that you shoot scenes in order. Yeah, we did this and then we did the flashback in the next episode so that also was very helpful for the rest of our work.
Did you like that Elektra comes fully formed, so you don’t really have to do her origin story?
I don’t know what is going to come next. I don’t know what’s in the writers’ heads. Who knows? I might have to show some stuff like that. I just thought that the way it was written initially was quite clever because we would actually see some of the previous relationship between Matthew and Elektra. I think that’s what was important to them, to get a sense of what this relationship was. It’s not about Elektra. It’s about the relationship between Matthew and Elektra and how Elektra coming back in his life today will have an impact on him. Showing how she became a killer and all that, that’s another story. I think what was really important in this season was to show that they loved each other and then something went wrong, and now she shows up again in his life, and how this will affect Matthew.
Are filming those flashbacks almost like a romantic comedy?
Oh yes, it was light and unexpected for her because she thinks that she knows pretty much everything. She’s traveled the world. She’s had men courting her and she’s quite bored about it. She doesn’t pay attention to that. She thinks he is one of them and actually he can see through the mask and straightaway he got her attention. He sees that she’s bored and she pretends to be the girl she pretends to be. So he got her attention. It was also one of the first scenes we had to shoot, Charlie and I. That was actually one of the audition scenes as well.
I did, yes, eventually. It was rounds and rounds of auditions before I got to the next level which was auditioning with Charlie. They call it a chemistry test, so they brought Charlie in the room and we had to do those scenes together and straightaway worked very well between us.
Was action something you were always interested in doing when you got into acting?
Oh, absolutely not. Not at all. It’s something that I enjoyed doing because I like to challenge myself. If it’s anything challenging, I like it and it’s quite challenging and demanding to do action scenes. So I enjoyed doing it but it’s definitely not something that I wanted to do. I liked the other aspects of acting which is getting in someone’s skin, getting to understand how emotionally someone functions. All those aspects were what I really enjoy. The good thing about Elektra is she has both. I could enjoy the fighting because that’s part of her character. She’s a very well trained killer. I got to do all that but she’s also a very complex character. This is really what I enjoyed doing with this character, just to explore and try to understand her. Trying to understand her was just a fun, fun task for me because she is hard to get. She is really hard to understand.
Have you ever played a character with this wealth of source material behind her before?
No, never. That’s big pressure on me and the more I talk to you guys, every journalist asks me, “Okay, do you have a particular pressure?” So I do now feel a pressure but no, I never got to do that. I want to say that I really wanted to be respectful of what was done before and respectful of the creator and all that. I know that it’s a different version because this is an adaptation and this is another medium. The writers have their input and I have my own input as I have my own input in every character that I do, because this is how I work. It will not be a copy of people have already read over the years in the comics. It is different but I believe that I have respected the spirit of Elektra and I really tried my best to honor that.
Thank you. You’re the only one because all of your colleagues say, “So, do you feel the pressure?” I never do things fearing I could do right or wrong. I just do it because I just follow my guts. This is really how I did it for Elektra because I was just amazed by all the comics. I was good for me to get inspired by the them and I just follow my guts for the rest. You have to let go and do what you think is right. I never thought of it before but now that I’m doing a few interviews and hearing that, I still don’t feel the pressure to be honest but I’m hoping that people will love this Elektra that I’m presenting her as much as I loved her, because I really cared about her and I just hope that they will welcome her. But if not, Elektra will move on. It’s fine.
How did you feel when you first saw yourself in the full Elektra costume?
How did I feel when I wore it first or when I saw myself? Because that’s different. When I wore it at first, it needed a bit of work to be practical so I wanted to be very comfortable. We needed to do tweaks to be able to move and do all the crazy choreography. Then once this was done, then when I saw myself in the mirror I said, “Okay, I get it. I’m badass. I’m ready to go and kill people, no problem.”
Elektra is Greek. Do you have any Greek background or feel comfortable playing a blended ethnicity?
Yeah, she’s Greek in the comics. This is not something that they insisted on, the writers and Marvel. I think what they were looking for is someone who could embody a character, a woman that has traveled, that came from Europe, that had a weird accent and they were quite happy with mine. I guess it’s not a Greek accent but I don’t believe that Elektra, who’s traveled the world, would have a thick Greek accent anyway. So she has Greek ethnicity, that origin but that’s not something we address really in our version. Although it’s mentioned in the first series, but I think what they’d like is to have this European accent.
Having a whole season of Daredevil to watch before you got the part had to help you more than maybe some auditions you’ve had for a brand new show.
Well, when I was auditioning I didn’t know it was Daredevil. Everything was secret. They’re secret agents. They wouldn’t give you any clues. I was a big fan of the show and I think it helped me, once I got the part, to really understand the world that they live in. It helped me during shooting. Other than that, not really because it was really a blind audition. Like, “Okay, just go in the dark and have fun.” I just didn’t know what it was for.
No, I watched it already. I really liked the show so I was very excited about this. Yes, all the stuff while I was doing the second season, I was already relating to the first season. I knew the world and I knew the fact that this was a very grounded superhero show, which to me actually wasn’t like a superhero show. It was more about the characters. I cared about Karen. I cared about Foggy. I cared about Matt Murdock when I was just a fan and just watching the series. Knowing I would go into this world which is a very grounded, gritty and dark show, it was a plus for me to know that.
And did the cast welcome you into their fold?
They did. They are the best. Seriously, it’s not always the case. You always have a bad apple on a show or something like this. It happens anywhere, work, colleagues. Not everyone always gets on with each other. This is a really great group of people, the cast, the crew, the directors we worked with and the Marvel people as well. It’s a very collaborative work. It’s a very healthy environment in a way that people are putting the best in their job. Everybody working on these shows, they’re really trying to do their best because they believe in what they’re doing and they really like the show. The artistic side of it is flourishing. You can really express yourself and work hand in hand with everyone. I couldn’t believe that I booked a job like this. It’s a dream job, seriously. The character is fantastic and the environment is great to express yourself. When I got on the show, Charlie was like, “Elodie, I know what it is to be on the second season of a show. It’s not always easy so let’s just organize a little dinner for us just to get to know each other.” He was just an English gentleman. It was so nice of him, so it was good.
Anyone at Marvel give you any specific issues of comic books?
No, nothing very specific. They didn’t tell me, “This is the line that we’re following.” Some of the writers definitely got inspired by some of the story lines but we are evolving in the Daredevil story. So when it comes to Elektra, they didn’t follow one of her specific story lines, you know. They really tried to capture what comes through the comics, but there’s not one specific storyline.