In his first series since Daredevil, Charlie Cox plays one of his most complex characters to date. The crime-fighting vigilante is now on the other side of the law as Michael Kinsella in Kin, a show that tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war.
In the lead up to doing press around the show’s Australian release via AMC+, Cox admits he had to study up on the series again, given it first premiered overseas in September.
“I was thinking about questions I might be asked and I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m not sure I remember a lot of this stuff,’ you know?” he laughs. “It was a long time ago.”
He’s just ‘trusting’ he’ll remember the important bits, and throughout a 20-minute conversation, it’s clear that Kin – both its story and production – still holds an important place for Cox.
The English actor recalls how much joy surrounded filming, “which actually is surprising considering the subject matter.”
“But it was in 2020, it was the second half of 2020, so it was still in lockdown, everyone had been stuck at home for a long time and the vast majority of people were still stuck at home,” he tells. “And we were able to go work every day and meet people and make new friends and do the job that we love to do. And my wife and kids were in Dublin with me, and it was just so nice that it was the first glimpse that the world might get back to normal at some point, you know? Which it still hasn’t, but at the time we didn’t know it was going to be this long.
“So, that’s my overriding memory of the experience. But other than that, I had such a great time with the other cast members. I just felt like the family unit that we had was so strong, and I could tell very quickly that what was written so beautifully by Peter McKenna [co-creator] on the page, the family bonds, was going to come to life on screen with us based on the actors they’d hired and our chemistry. So, that was really exciting.”
Family underpins the entire series and Cox praises his co-stars, such as Clare Dunne, Aidan Gillen, Emmett J Scanlan, Maria Doyle Kennedy and more, for helping make those on-screen relationships feel so real, thus grounding Kin.
“As soon as we got on set and we were doing scenes together, I was like, ‘Oh, this feels like a family,’ he recalls. “’This feels like I recognise all of us in my own family. I recognize how these people have become the people that they have, and what’s influenced them, and what these relationships are like.’ And me and Emmett Scanlan, who plays my brother, we were constantly joking with each other.
“The house that we filmed in, as you know because it’s on camera, there was a pool table in the basement. But that was only used when they were filming in the basement. So, when we weren’t filming in the basement, me and Emmett were down there the whole time playing pool and had an ongoing competition through the whole duration of the season… which I won by the way.
“So yeah, it was very, very quick that it was apparent to me. Obviously, I knew Ciarán Hinds, I knew Aidan Gillen, not personally, but I knew their work, and Maria Doyle Kennedy as well. But the others, Sam Keeley and Clare Dunne and Emmett and Yasmin, I didn’t know them, and the kids. And I was so impressed with everyone. I could tell that we were, can’t speak for myself, but I could tell that the others were seriously talented actors and they were going to bring this story to life in the best possible fashion.”
When quizzed on whether or not having such positive relationships off-screen afforded him the opportunity to really be vulnerable and give his all to Michael, something the character demanded, Cox pauses.
“…yeah, I think that’s probably… I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I think that’s certainly true that when you feel that you’re in, quote-unquote, safe hands, you, as an actor, are able to relax more. And I particularly find that with the directors as well.
“Like, if I feel like the director gets what we’re trying to do, and their vision is what I imagined or maybe even is even more interesting or perfect for the tone of the show, then that helps a lot. And our two directors, I thought, were tremendous on the show and really gave it that extra level of nuance.”
As to what first attracted Cox to the role of Michael, the actor states that it was the complexity that McKenna had intertwined into him.
“Michael is different from who he used to be, but we never get to see that, we never get to see who he used to be, so from an acting point of view, that was really interesting to me; that as a challenge, that’s quite fun, that I’m playing someone who you’ve never met before, but you know, quite quickly you learn that something’s different from whoever he used to be.
“And obviously, some of that is in the text, some of that is because of what other characters say. A lot of that is from other characters’ reactions, they’re looking at him slightly differently, they’re not quite sure how to talk to him anymore. And then slowly you start to learn why he’s different, what’s changed, both in terms of, and again without including any spoilers, but both in terms of things that maybe have influenced who he has become while he’s been in prison for eight years. But also, now that he’s out, how that experience has changed him and what he wants to do with his life now.
“I guess what isn’t a spoiler is that we learn quite quickly that the most important thing to him is to spend time with his daughter and rebuild that relationship. And what that means practically is that he cannot be involved with his family. And if he can’t be involved with the family and he can’t engage in the family business, which of course is crime, that is a big problem for everyone.”
Michael’s relationship with his daughter, Anna, played a huge part in how Cox approached the role.
“That was part of some of the conversations I had with Peter as well,” he tells. “I was like, ‘Just because these people engage in a lifestyle that most audience members will not a) relate to, and b) condone, then it doesn’t mean they don’t have the same capacity for love for their children and siblings and parents and all that kind of stuff. They still want what’s best for their family and the ones they love just like the rest of us.
“And so, I found that to be a really interesting dynamic, that he can care so deeply that, I’m talking about Michael now, obviously, but Michael can care so deeply and just not want to hurt a single hair on the head of his daughter, or for anyone to hurt her in any way and be that protective of her. And yet he can compartmentalise it enough that he can walk into a bar and shoot someone if he has to, whatever. And that’s fascinating. That seems to be from the research I’ve done and the writer, that’s real. That’s what it’s like, and that’s scary. But [it] makes interesting television maybe.”
It’s so interesting that fans of Daredevil who have followed Cox across to this new endeavour are not just watching the series in passing, but really becoming invested in it, as apparent via social media commentary and comments below trailers and clips from the show.
“I mean, I hadn’t heard that, but if that’s true, that’s really cool,” Cox enthuses. “That’s really cool. And I know I have incredibly vocal, passionate fans. And the #SaveDaredevil campaign continues to blow my mind in terms of what they are willing to do and capable of doing. So I know that. But to think that they will watch other stuff that I’m involved in and support that, that’s very exciting and it makes me feel very good.”
This latest rounded of press for Kin follows the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, unlike when he was first doing interviews for the show prior to the MCU release and was bombarded with questions about his rumoured appearance in the film.
“It was a nightmare,” he laughs, revealing that he hasn’t spoken much about it since the film came out and his return as Matt Murdock was confirmed.
“I don’t think I’ve done any interviews,” he adds. “I still don’t know what the rules are. Obviously, it’s now known that I’m in Spider-Man. So, yeah. But more than that, I don’t know, and the little I do know, I’m obviously not going to say. But the only thing I would say is that for a long time I was asked these questions and I genuinely had not heard anything.
“For years, I have been asked questions about returning as Daredevil, and the genuine truth was I 100% assumed that was gone, that ship had just sailed. I didn’t hear from any of the folks at Marvel for a couple of years. It does now look like I was lying for a long time, I actually wasn’t, I was only lying for a little bit of time. You still don’t want to spoil it for people.”
Without subjecting Cox to another “nightmare” by asking about other MCU rumours currently floating around, we did ask his hopes in regard to Matt Murdock/Daredevil moving forward.
“I mean look, I feel so lucky to have been cast in that role and it is the gift that keeps on giving,” he stresses. “I loved every single minute of making the show. And so, to be asked to come back and to be involved in any capacity is absolutely thrilling to me. And I hope, I don’t want to sound greedy, but I hope I get to do loads more. I hope I get to be involved way, way more for many years. I hope it never ends. I hope it gets to the point where people are like, ‘You are too old to be playing this part.’
“I don’t know what their plans are, but yes, my hope is that I get to do as much as I’m allowed to do, and to be involved. And it’d be really fun, the one thing that being in the MCU allows that we couldn’t really do with the Netflix stuff, is that I can now interact with other MCU characters. So, that would be really cool. Crossovers is the thing I would like to do next. I don’t know what that looks like, and I don’t know what they’re planning and all that kind of stuff. But there are some really interesting stories there that I’d love for the character to explore.”
As for what Cox hopes audiences take away from Kin?
“It’s such a good question,” he says, pausing again and looking off-camera. “Sorry, I’m… it’s such a good question and it seems like such an innocuous question, but for me, that’s quite a profound question because I’m constantly, when I’m thinking about stuff I want, and I’m watching stuff, other stuff that people have made, and I’m thinking about the kind of stuff I want to be involved in, it’s a hard question to answer. What is it that moves you, and why does it move you? And I guess that’s [what] the answer is, I hope it moves people. I hope it moves people.
“There are some shows that I guess are supposed to be educational and you’re supposed to learn about something. I just finished watching Dopesick, which I thought was incredible, but also it’s incredibly informative about the opioid crisis in the States. But I continue to watch it because the storytelling is so good and the performances are so good. But I think with Kin, I hope that audiences enjoy the performances, relate to the dynamics, are intrigued by the story and the reality of the story.
“I also hope that it’s allowed to be entertainment and doesn’t glamorise [crime]. I personally don’t think it does, but I understand people don’t agree with that. I hope it doesn’t glamorise a life of crime. The point of the show is it’s meant to, one of the things it’s meant to do, is show you how painful it is and how it wrecks families, and how it’s all hiding and secrecy and fear. So, that’s my hope.”
Kin is now available exclusively via the AMC+ streaming bundle.