Kin is a new drama about an Irish crime family who get embroiled in a dangerous gangland war when one of their sons is killed. The series, a co-production between RTE and AMC, features Charlie Cox as prodigal son Michael Kinsella – reluctant to rejoin the family business and returning from prison at the worst possible moment.
Cox, star of Boardwalk Empire and Stardust, is perhaps best known for his role as the Marvel hero Daredevil, a part he first played in 2015 on Netflix and recently reprised in (spoilers) Spider-Man: No Way Home.
He also discusses his return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and reveals when we might see Matt Murdock next…
How did you first get involved with Kin?
My wife [Samantha Thomas] is a producer on it. I was scheduled to do something else, but it was in the middle of the pandemic, or right at the beginning of the pandemic, actually. She asked me to read this thing that she was thinking about, or her company [BRON Studios] were thinking about producing, and I kind of fell in love with it.
Then, the thing I was supposed to do fell through, and she kind of suggested me [for Kin] – it was kind of a happy accident, in many ways, because not only did we get to work on something that we both loved, but also, we got to stay together and keep the family together as we went to Ireland to do it.
When you say you fell in love with Kin, what sort of thing is important to you when you’re choosing your roles?
I don’t initially tend to worry too much about the character, because I do think that most characters in a TV show and a movie, if they are present enough, they will be interesting. They will have interesting moments and there will be something to get your teeth into, as a performer, as an actor.
I tend to be more interested in the story and the tone: do I feel like the tone and the story are interesting enough that people will want to see it and want to stay watching it? And will it be interesting and enjoyable to shoot? “Enjoyable” is an odd word because, depending on the tone of the piece, it’s not always enjoyable – making Kin was, you know, a tremendous experience from a lifestyle point of view, and we all got on really well. But obviously, the subject matter is quite painful. There’s a lot of scenes that were not comfortable to be involved in.
So, it’s really that – and then the other thing is the creators and the producers and the director. Who are the people who are going to be running the ship, and do they have an interesting vision, and is it something that I feel like I haven’t done before? That kind of stuff.
Just picking up on what you were saying about character, I was interested: your character here, Michael, he’s very reserved, he’s a bit detached from and resistant to this life. He’s not necessarily an active participant in the crime drama, or not at first at least, in the same way as some other characters you’ve played. How do you find your way into something like that?
With Michael, what was quite fun about playing him, what we learn quite quickly, is that the person that we’re meeting is very different from whoever he was a years before. I was excited to portray someone who’s gone through a fundamental change. We don’t know what that change is: we learn initially, what we think is the reason, that he’s desperate to rebuild a relationship with his daughter, who he’s been obviously estranged from while he’s been in prison. The only way for him to do that is to disengage from the family business, which is crime.
We do later learn that it’s a bit more complicated than that, and there’s another major factor at play. It’s the keeping of those secrets in your mind, as the actor when you’re playing a character, that allows you to portray that truthfully, I think is the best answer.
Watching it, I thought that was a big part of what made Michael such compelling character – that bit in the third episode, where Michael insists to Jimmy that he’ll do the shooting, almost to kind of protect Jimmy, that was fascinating. It’s a really interesting dynamic between him and the other characters.
Yeah, thank you. I mean, I thought Peter McKenna [the writer] did an amazing job. Every episode I read, I was like, wow, this is really… it’d be very easy to tell this story and to make it a bit too Hollywood, a bit too on the nose? I felt like he had many moments, in many scenes, where characters did something that I think is unexpected, but unexpected in a truthful way.
Something you’ve said before about some of your other roles, which I thought was quite interesting, was that you’re not always comfortable with the way some of them involve and use violence. How did you feel about the violence in Kin, the way it’s depicted here?
Yeah, it’s always a tricky area. I hate violence, as a human. I hate it. I hate violence in any capacity. And… hmm, it depends. I don’t feel like it’s my job to judge it. My job is to perform the role: I read a script and I decide, do I find it interesting? Do I find it moving? Do I find it true? Then, occasionally, maybe something will come along that I’ll read, and part of the decision process is do I think that this is important, and it needs to be made?
A good example of that is I recently watched Dopesick [a drama about the opiod crisis], and I loved it. I love the performance and I love the storytelling and I love everything about it. But it’s also important, too, I feel like it’s important that that gets made. Not everyone is going to watch documentaries, not everyone’s gonna watch The Crime of the Century [an HBO documentary about the opiod crisis]. But it’s important to educate yourself on the subject matter, and if that means you get the information from watching Dopesick, great.
With Kin, it’s loosely based on reality, but what I felt when I read it was that it doesn’t glamorize it. Now, maybe people don’t agree with that; maybe you could argue that just having any violence on television for people to watch is glamorizing it. I’m not sure if that’s true. I don’t really know that I’ve educated myself enough to talk about that – but what I will say is that when I read it, I felt horrible for these people.
It feels claustrophobic, and frightening, and it wrecks lives. It’s a constant worry: you can’t be a normal human. You can’t go to the coffee shop and not be worried that there’s someone out to get you. The loss of life is so unnecessary and just completely devastates families; I just thought that was truthful, and does the opposite of glamorizing it. If anything, it shines a very uncomfortable light on it.
On another note, but kind of picking up on that idea of family, which is a big theme in the show: some of your best scenes were with Hannah Adeogun, who plays Michael’s daughter. She’s 15, which is a little bit younger than you were when you started acting professionally – did that prompt you to reflect back on your own career at all? Did you have any advice for her at all?
Hannah was fantastic, and I loved doing the scenes with her. I loved working with her – it was really exciting to me, and challenging, because it’s the first time I’ve played a father on screen, and I am a father. It was exciting to kind of, you know, bring my own experience into that relationship.
I feel like – I know it’s probably only a few years difference – but I got my first professional job I think at 19. For me, there was a big difference between 15 and 19. I also I think Hannah was 14 when we shot this? Maybe I’m wrong about that. But I had left school, and I’d also had other jobs and stuff, I’d worked, so it was slightly different.
I don’t tend to offer advice unless I’m asked, and Hannah seemed to have it all. I remember, there was an audition where they asked me to read with her. She did it one way, and it was good, it was fine. And then Diarmuid [Goggins, who directed the first four of Kin’s eight episodes] spoke to her a bit about the scene and blah blah blah – she did it again, and it had a new depth to it. That was enough for me, and for all of us, I think to say right, well, she’s got whatever it takes. She’s got it. I guess, you know, the thing with acting is it’s about how easily can you access it, once you’re in front of a camera or in front of a crew? That’s the question.
Just building on that a bit, how much of your own performance would you say comes down to choices you make in the moment? I know you did a lot of research for this role.
This is something that I question constantly. I don’t like to make decisions before I get there, because if you do that, if you make decisions – major performance decisions about how you’re going to do a scene – before you get there, then you’re not factoring in the other actors, and the director, and the weather [laughs]. There’s so many other things at play.
What I – and this has changed a lot over the course of my career, and it probably will change again – my current thinking is that I do a lot of reading. I read the scripts over and over and over and over again. I read other stuff that’s of the genre or the time if it’s relevant. On this show, I listened to a ton of podcasts about Irish crime and the mafia and all that kind of stuff, I read a couple of books about it. You kind of hope that, or I feel that, from reading all the scripts and doing all the work – including the accent work and all that stuff – the character is building itself.
And then when you get on set, you try to forget all of that, and you tell the truth of the moment with the lines that you’re given. What comes out then is the character.
I certainly don’t do – like, I’m not pooh-poohing it, I just don’t, I don’t do a walk or something like that. How does this guy walk, or how does he put his hands in his pockets? I don’t tend to do that. But then I have done parts where I felt like how the character literally carries themselves needs to be different from how I literally carry myself. That I will have to physically practice. I played a character once, and the director was very clear with me that he wasn’t as… I can’t remember the word he used, but he wasn’t as co-ordinated or as athletic as I maybe am [laughs]. He wanted that to be part of the character, and so that was something I had to really work on.
You’ve probably been asked this a lot recently, but I wanted to talk to you a bit about Daredevil. You’ve spoken a few times over the years about being happy with Series 3 of the Netflix show being the final ending for the character if it had to be, not necessarily wanting to reprise the role if it might undercut that – how did it come about that you were in Spider-Man recently?
I just got a phone call out of the blue! I hadn’t heard anything for a couple of years, in my mind it was dead and buried. It was over. You know, we had a great run, and I was thrilled – would I have liked to have continued? Absolutely, but you know we left on a high, and that’s not to be sniffed at.
But then I got a phone call midway through 2020, completely out of the blue, from someone who I had not had a relationship with in the past, not worked with in the past, and they asked me if I wanted to come be in Spider-Man, and potentially come back and do more stuff. It was a pretty emphatic yes.
Do you feel like giving me a massive exclusive about when you’re going to play Daredevil next?
[laughs] The funny thing is, people always think I know more than I do. That’s really interesting, and it’s also funny to me, because the people who make these decisions, who know how secretive it needs to be, the worst thing they could do is tell actors until they absolutely have to!
Because we’re doing interviews all the time and we’re liable to forget that we’re not supposed to say something. So, I don’t know much. I know a little bit. I know what I need to know. And I know that I don’t want to say! I know that there’s more coming; I’m not gonna say what that is or in what capacity, but I don’t know how much more, you know what I mean?
Yeah, of course, of course.
My hope is that I’m part of this family now for a few years and get to explore more storylines – the thing that’s most exciting, to me at least, is the potential for crossover now that we didn’t have with the Netflix show. I can now show up in a room with Peter Parker.
With the beloved history of the comics, as you probably know, that really gets people excited, and it gets the juices flowing for everyone. As it does for me! That’s really thrilling. So, all I’ll say is that I feel like a very, very lucky man right now, and long may it continue.
On probably safer ground, is there anything you can tell us about any other projects you’re working on at the moment?
I’m actually in London here at the moment, doing a show called Treason for Netflix. It’s written and created by Matt Charman [screenwriter of Bridge of Spies] and it’s a modern-day, MI6 espionage-y spy thriller. We’ve only just started, done a couple of weeks, but it’s really really fun. It’s really fun to be acting on screen in my own accent, which I haven’t done… probably for around 10 years? I can’t remember.
I’ve been looking forward to that show.
Yeah, I’m really enjoying doing it. And it’s great to be filming in London again.
We’ll have to speak again about that when it comes out!
That’d be great!
Finally, then, just to draw everything together: what’s the most important thing – if anything, if you think about it in those terms – that you’d want someone to take from watching Kin, and your work in general?
I don’t think about it in terms of my work in general, mainly because it feels so… randomised, you know? I often get asked things like “what made you choose this?” and, yes, to an extent, I’ve read something and, and thought, this is great. But sometimes it’s asked in a way that suggests that I’m sitting in front of a million scripts, and I’m like, “Ooh, which one?”, which is just not the case, you know?
Treason was sent to me and came out of the blue, I had nothing going on, I had no other work. I’ve been sent a couple of other things that I’ve read and been like, that’s not my thing, that’s not for me. I read Treason and thought, this is great. I love this. I would love to be part of that. But it does feel so random, the jobs you end up doing, and I’m not at a level where I’m saying no to a ton of stuff, you know?
I’m certainly not thinking about... You know, I would like to think that, as I get deeper into my career, and I’ve been doing it for a long time, that I’m thought of as someone who does interesting characters, and is in stuff that people enjoy. That’s pretty vague, isn’t it?
In terms of with Kin… it is such a tricky time with television right now, because there’s so much out there? Knowing the few things that stick their head above the rest, and just get noticed in a different way where everyone watches – for every one of those, there’s ten shows that are arguably equally as good, but just haven’t had that zeitgeist moment in the same way.
I just watched something called Station Eleven, and I was blown away by it, but I’m amazed that I hadn’t heard about it until a mate of mine asked, have you seen this? And that’s genuinely one of my favourite things I’ve ever seen.
With Kin, my only real hope is that… I’ve really enjoyed working on it. It has what I love about acting, which is that it has small quiet moments that are very moving and very painful and very truthful. I love all that: I love the smaller stuff, the family stuff. I don’t need the big bangs and the explosions and all that kind of stuff for me to enjoy something. So, my hope is that it reaches people, and that we get to do it again, and… that’s it, really.
I know I really enjoyed it – I’m only halfway through at the moment, I’m looking forward to finishing it – and I’ll be telling people about it.
Thank you so much.
Charlie Cox, thank you very much!
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