Since you’re most likely reading this in-between binge-watching episodes of “Daredevil” on Netflix, odds are you’re already aware that the series marks the debut of Marvel Studios‘ huge partnership with the streaming service. The mean streets of Marvel’s Manhattan come to life in “Daredevil,” and there’s only one person strong enough to help rid Hell’s Kitchen of crime — okay, actually, there are two people. Of course there’s Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, but there’s also Foggy Nelson — his Best Bud Mostly Without Fear.
RELATED: CBR’s “Daredevil” Binge-Blog
As IN YOUR FACE JAM readers know, I love Foggy Nelson. He’s my number one comic book character crush as well as one of my own personal heroes. As Matt Murdock’s capable and comedic chum, Foggy represents one of the most true-to-life everyman characters I’ve ever seen in a comic. Considering how much thought I’ve put into analyzing Mr. Nelson over the past few years, I know bringing the multi-faceted character to life was going to be a tough gig for any actor that landed the role. Luckily, the part went to Elden Henson, a character actor now stepping into the spotlight while sporting Foggy’s signature dapper duds.
With viewers all across the world discovering Henson’s delightful and complex turn as Foggy, I had the chance to talk to the actor about one of my favorite comic book characters.
It’s a pretty big week for you, I imagine!
Elden Henson: Yeah, yeah, I’m just trying not to think about it! [Laughs]
I just feel so happy and grateful to be a part of this whole thing. The more people are seeing it, the more they’re liking it. It’s just a relief, because you really want to get it right, you know? Because it’s such an iconic comic and the fans are so awesome. I think more so than anything I’ve ever really done, it was more about the fans than it was about me.
I’m a huge Daredevil fan, specifically a Foggy Nelson fan, so, I can say that you’ve nailed it. You’ve killed it!
Aw, thank you! I was so worried going in because I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. Obviously, I knew the comic because it’s one of the most iconic comics ever, but my son was born right before I started shooting this and I just, you know — I was sleeping like an hour a night, maybe two, so I was really relying heavily on the people around me. I was really worried going in because it is so important to the fans. I was just praying I was getting it right.
You and Charlie Cox get the relationship right from the very first scene. Matt’s most important relationship, I think, is with Foggy. Matt has a string of girls that come and go, but it’s that friendship that remains constant, and you guys nail it in the phone call scene. How did you go about building that rapport with Charlie Cox?
He’s just such a great guy, and we just kinda lucked out. Sometimes things just happen where you meet somebody and it’s just — look, my job was easy, man, working with him. That walk and talk scene — this will explain who Charlie Cox is. So, you know, a lot of times on TV shows or movies or whatever, when you see someone walking down the street talking on the phone, they’re not talking to anybody. Charlie came in on his day off and hung out by the monitor and would call me every time on the cell phone so we could actually have that conversation. When you work with people like that — I think it probably shows through in that scene. It seems like we’re really talking on the phone because we really were. That’s the kinda guy he is. When you’re working with someone like that, it makes your life so much easier.
That’s so great to hear. I think another one of the great things about Foggy is that he’s not just comedic relief, he’s also actually a good lawyer. He’s capable. What was it like learning that you get to be both the comedic relief and do meaty courtroom scenes? That depth of character had to be so much fun to play.
It really was. It was, I’ll be honest, it was a little scary because I was coming off doing “[Hunger Games:] Mockingjay” part one and two back to back, where I played a character who didn’t talk at all into coming in and playing Foggy Nelson, which is a character that talks quite a bit. [Laughs] It was definitely — there was a seismic shift in my world at that point. But it was really exciting, to be honest. The feedback that I’ve been getting a lot from people, fans of the show, they say there’s always a danger with Foggy just sort of being the comic relief who pops in for a one-liner and goes off. I think that [Writer] Drew Goddard, [Showrunner] Steve DeKnight and [Marvel Head of TV] Jeph Loeb did a really incredible job of bringing humanity to all of the characters on this show, and creating characters that have their own journeys, their own goals, their own aspirations and dreams
When I auditioned for the show, I was still in Berlin, and they didn’t tell me what the show was. They sent a couple of audition scenes. The character names weren’t even the same ,and I made a tape, and I had to do a Skype screen test, which is a hilarious whole other story, which couldn’t have gone any worse. I couldn’t get the Skype to work on my computer, and people were calling me. I’m not even sure we got through the audition scenes once without being interrupted. But what came from that is when I talked to Jeph after that is he asked me how well I knew the Daredevil world and I was honest with him and said, “I know of it, but I’m not well-versed in it.” He said that’s fine, because we’re not trying to make a comic book show; we’re also trying to make a real crime show. That, for me, seemed like, okay, I can do this. I understand storytelling. I may not understand the comic book world, but I do understand storytelling. When I read those first two scripts, what they sent me before I did the screen test, the ones that Drew Goddard wrote, I was blown away. No matter what it was, “Daredevil” or whatever, those scripts were so good that I just thought, what a dream to be able to play this character.
Speaking of the first few scripts, you have a great moment in episode two when Karen Page catches you singing along to a number from “Pirates of Penzance.”
Was that song choice made in the script?
That was in the script, that was scripted. I don’t know — you’d probably have to ask Drew or somebody, I don’t know who came up with that. Maybe that song’s just in public domain or something so they didn’t have to pay for it. [Laughs] I’m just kidding! But that was definitely a fun scene to do.
I also gotta talk about Foggy’s wardrobe. Even though Foggy is the sidekick, he still gets to be a little stylish. In the comics, Foggy has been known to wear purple pants and bow ties and plaids, and the show has nods to those flourishes. What’s it been like wearing Foggy’s clothes?
It’s interesting that you bring that up. Our costume designers, I think, killed it. They turned me on to the Ted Baker suits. I didn’t know it, because I’m a t-shirt kinda guy, but now I’m like, “That’s it, I’m only wearing Ted Baker suits.” It was cool, man, it was great. To be able to wear a suit every day, it definitely helped me sort of get into that mindset and made me a fan of Ted Baker.
If “Daredevil” comes back for a second season, is there anything on your Foggy Nelson bucket list that you want to see happen?
Yes. Is it okay if it’s super crazy? Because here’s what I want. I want, somehow, for Foggy to be blasted into outer space and work with Star-Lord, because I think Chris Pratt is awesome. Sorry, I just watched “Guardians of the Galaxy,” not last night, the night before — it was so good! [Laughs] I don’t know! I don’t really have any aspirations; I think I’m gonna leave it up to the people in charge, because they’ve been doing such a great job so far, and just be grateful to have a job.
All 13 episodes of “Daredevil” are currently streaming on Netflix.
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