These are the chilling menaces that threaten the urban jungle known as Hell’s Kitchen: the Kingpin, Gladiator and…Wesley? Yeah, Wesley.
Even though Wesley, an original creation for Marvel and Netflix‘s “Daredevil” played by actor Toby Leonard-Moore, doesn’t have a badass street name, the right-hand man of Vincent D’Onofrio‘s enigmatic mob boss Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin, is just as devious as his mammoth leader, and as dangerous as Melvin Potter, played by Matt Gerald. Over the course of the 13-episode first season, the Man Without Fear faces down a slew of antagonists, but these three nasty pieces of business top the lists of the nascent hero’s deadliest threats.
At the series’ premiere in Los Angeles, CBR News spoke with each of Daredevil’s villains, to see what we could dig up about the trouble they have in store for Matt Murdock.
CBR News: I hear you were familiar with the Daredevil material before they came to you with the role.
D’Onofrio: I did [know it], yeah. I mean, I hadn’t remembered that I knew it, because I was more into Captain America and Spider-Man when I was a kid. But then when I started talking to Jeph Loeb about it, I realized I knew Wilson Fisk’s origin story. Right on the phone call with him, I was like, “You know, I know this!” So yeah, I did, a little bit.
He’s such an interesting, textured villain, especially the way the show depicts him. Tell me, what was fun for you, digging into this guy, who we can’t help but feel some empathy for.
I tell you, to be honest, I couldn’t wait to read the next script, every time I got it. I mean, there was so much for me to do, and Steven DeKnight, he just knocked it out of the park with the writing. He really did — knocked it right out of the park. I was just so excited every time I opened a new script, I couldn’t wait to see what I was up to. I mean, how many episodes did you see, five? Yes, I mean, it just goes on. It gets deeper and deeper and deeper. It’s really crazy. It’s really — some intense stuff between him and I happens, and lots of cool things.
What was the most fun part of making that transformation to really capture the distinctive comic book look of the character?
Yeah, I don’t know — it’s part of the deal, you know? You want to do the right thing for the fans and everything, so it’s just kind of part of the deal. I think the most fun was bringing him to life with this kind of emotional truth that runs through all 11 of the episodes that I’m in. I mean, that was the most fun. Shaving the head and wearing the suits and everything, that’s nice — but getting it out there, getting the emotional life out there, was really special.
Wesley is a really interesting character, in that you represent the Kingpin while he remains mysterious for a while. Tell me about that, and also playing opposite the Big Bad in Vincent D’Onofrio?
Leonard-Moore: Wesley’s such an interesting character to play, because in one moment he can be incredibly charming, and in the next, dastardly as all hell, manipulative and Machiavellian, but always loyal to Wilson Fisk. As an actor, that’s so much fun to play.
And Vincent was amazing, so generous. I learned so much just watching him. There were times where I had forgotten to act because I was just like, “Oh. That was incredi– that’s me? I say the words now? Oh.” He was so wonderful to work with. I think the material’s just so good, with so much meat to chew on as an actor, the scenes sort of play themselves. Hopefully, you’ll see that on the screen.
Does your character have a pretty solid story presence for the entire season?
Yeah, I was very pleased with it. Like I said, you never quite know where he’s going to go next. He can turn on a dime. And that’s the great thing about Marvel, in essence, I think, is that even if you’re a goodie or a baddie, even goodies have their dark side and vice versa. It’s so wonderful to have a role like that.
Wesley doesn’t have any roots in the comics, at least as far as I’m aware of.
No, that’s right. It’s kind of a newly imagined idea. It was great fun to create it.
Did you have a favorite day on set, or sequence?
Oh, God, there were so many amazing moments. One particular moment that I loved was just utilizing the New York backdrop. There’s a scene under one of the bridges in New York. I got to set, and I looked at the monitors, and I just went, “Wow.” Like, almost no acting necessary. This looks so incredible. The locations that we shot on were fantastic and really inject something extra into the drama.
Melvin Potter’s got a great place in the Daredevil mythology. What was interesting for you to take him on as a character?
Gerald: He’s such a complex character — so fully rounded, a really sensitive creature. To be able to delve into that, especially given his physicality is such a presence — a physical presence to have that sensitivity is really an interesting role to delve into.
Tell me about the physical stuff. Do you get into a lot of action?
Oh, we get into it. Every episode, there’s very big action sequences. And my character, especially, gets into it with Daredevil in a major way. It’s going to be fun.
What’s a fun thing you had to learn for the show?
Oh, wow, so many things. I’m in the fights — the choreography was incredible, working with my stunt guys was fun. And just really, again, back to the character, the character work was probably the most interesting stuff. This Melvin guy is a really interesting individual.
He has a particular role in the comics, and he has his own costume. Does that reflect in the show as well?
I don’t know what I’m allowed to discuss at this point, but certainly in the Marvel Universe, his character is pretty prolific. Hhopefully, we’ll be exploring to the depths of this particular storyline.
As you were researching the comics –
Still doing it, man!
When did you say, “Oh, I love this story?”
I mean, the whole Melvin Potter story is a fascinating story, as far as I’m concerned, for how he gets into it, why he’s first enlisted, why he builds this suit, what happens to him after that, the Betsy character, his relationship with Mr. Fisk, his relationship with Daredevil. I mean, all that is really fascinating. I hope we get into it further.
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