A Conversation with Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I adored the first season of Daredevil on Netflix, and couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone who loves really good TV. So I was absolutely thrilled that I had the chance to speak with Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page) about her character and the first season of the series. Here’s our conversation, and in case you haven’t watched Daredevil yet. please be warned that there are spoilers!

First off, I was so excited when I heard the news that you were cast on Daredevil. What was it about this project, besides the fantastic writing and the great character development, that really intrigued you about it?

Well, I mean, beyond the things that you’ve mentioned, certainly the people involved. I mean, Netflix and Marvel to start with. But, also, the directors that they have got on hand to work on it, the writers, the cast, these are just a really amazing group of people.

Karen has quite the arc in the first season, from the second we meet her until that last episode. One thing that really stood out to me is that Karen really seems to be looking for a family, or a place to belong.  

I really love that you mention that because that is a big part of it for me.

There’s the surrogate mother in Mrs. Cardenas and the surrogate father in Ben Urich, and Karen loses both of these people, which sends her spiralling. Can you talk a bit about that journey, and where you hope that story goes in the second season? 

Karen, for me, from the little that we know about her back story, is — in my view — clearly on the run. In some way she has no home. She has to keep moving, reinventing herself, whatever it is or else whatever this horrible past is, is going to catch up with her. I think she may be found it at Union Allied, and then they betrayed her and tried to kill her and all these things. So, I think when she first meets Matt and Foggy, she is understandably sort of cautious. She doesn’t know if she can trust them right away. I love that it takes her the full episode; she’s got to really take her time to decide whether she can trust them or not, she doesn’t just hand over her information. I think by the end of that episode and certainly through the first season we realize that this is a home for all three of them. Matt’s an orphan; we don’t know much about Foggy’s family or his friends. So, these people need each other in a very deep way.

The scene that keeps sticking with me — so much that I keep dreaming about it — is the one with Karen and Wesley. How intense was that to film?

I mean, it was intense and Toby [Moore] – my god, what a terrific actor he is, a fantastic human being. We kept laughing about it because he had such a dialogue-heavy scene but I had such a physical, emotional heavy scene so that the two of us were like, we just have to be there for each other, doing whatever we can do to be there for each other all of the way through. And it is, by the end of it – your body doesn’t know you’re acting. Your body is just going through it over and over again for hours and hours and by the end of that day it’s like both of us were like we couldn’t think anymore. You are just so exhausted and spent.

How do you decompress after something like that?

I like watching Friends on Netflix (laughs).

Being a part of the Marvel Universe has to be pretty exciting, but Daredevil is so different from anything else they’ve done up to this point. This is much more like The Sopranos or The Wire than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a serialized crime drama.

I like to say even less than it’s about superheroes or superpowers, it is a superhuman crime show, that Matt Murdock is human with extraordinary abilities rather than a superhero with powers. In a way, even Foggy and Karen are superhuman because they are willing to take this call for justice farther than anyone else can or would. So, yeah, I did not know when we started that it was necessarily going to be a hit. You think Netflix, you think Marvel, oh, these are huge companies with a great track record. This was such a diversion, a totally different thing. It wasn’t really until recently that we started to go, “Whew.”

It was a risk and I bet it’s a relief that it’s resonating with viewers. I’d even say it’s the most human of Marvel’s stories. There’s something in each of those characters that we can relate to. I have to say it’s great to see that Karen is such a big part of the story, not just on the sidelines, or providing the office humor, or a romantic interest.

Well, it was funny that before the show got released I got all of these questions about being the love interest and I was like, “I can’t say anything yet, but just wait. She’s going to be her own crusader.” It’s really exciting and it was something that before I officially signed on I spoke with the producers about just to be sure that there was going to be something – an independent story for her and that she wasn’t just going to be the girl in relation to the guy.

There is definitely some chemistry with Foggy, but that’s not her focus.

Yeah, that’s lovely and that’s part of life. But, that’s not her focus. What was genuinely brilliant that they did is the love story belongs to the bad guy. I mean, what an incredible idea that the love story, that the couple that you are going to root for is going to be your villain and his Gangster Moll. It’s such a great, wonderful — and of course, Ayelet [Zurer] did way more than just Gangster Moll, I don’t mean to reduce that — but then as an archetype, you know the mobster and his girl, that’s who you root for –

And get to see how he got to that point. Plus, you see more of the backstory for this villain than we do of this story’s hero. Speaking of heroes and a comic book franchise come to life on the screen, there are still a lot of people who are hesitant to watch a show like this because they’re not into the genre. What would you say to persuade them to give it a try?

I think it is good to remind them, as we’ve said, that it doesn’t look or feel anything like the other superhero stories that have been told. And so, if you do like crime dramas or you like action films, or something like that then there will be something in there for you. I think also we tend to think of superhero stories being kind of for boys or for young men, and I would love to get some women watching it. With Karen and with Claire, these really strong intelligent kind of pushy women; we need some pushy women on TV and I love that they are. They stand up for themselves and other people and I would probably emphasize things like that because it would be great to really get a good sizable chunk of women watching the show.

Just before we wrap, what would you pick as your favorite scene from this first season? Do you have one, or is it difficult to pick because the entire season was so strong?

It is always difficult to pick it and it depends. I mean, I probably would say the one with Toby – with Wesley at the end. I mean, that was just such an incredible opportunity for a character. I also really like in Episode 5 right before the world blows up with Karen and Foggy. It is a twisted romantic scene because she is thinking about someone else and that there is all that stuff going on. But, I really felt like Elvin and I connected in that scene and the way that they shot it allowed us to be very free, not improvising but we could overlap with each other and laugh at each other’s jokes and you didn’t have to sort of do the artificial thing of making sure everyone gets their line out. It just felt lovely in the room.

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

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