Daredevil’s Charlie Cox on Netflix’s Treason, spying and using his own accent for the first time in 10 years

Charlie Cox  (Handout)
Charlie Cox (Handout)

Oddly for somebody who has made their name playing heroes in high-octane TV shows, Charlie Cox has never been mentioned in the running to play superspy James Bond, and it seems that’s the way he likes it. “Have you ever interviewed anyone who’s gone, ‘Nah, not really’?” he laughs when I ask if he fancies the role.

“I grew up with the Bonds... [but] what I get to do in the job scratches that itch. I get to have all the courtroom scenes and the lawyer stuff. And then I get to put on spandex and jump off roofs.” The job Cox is referring to, is his long-running stint as the MCU’s Daredevil – a role he’s played since 2015.

While he may not be keen on Bond, that doesn’t mean he has a blanket ban on playing British spooks. In his newest Netflix show Treason, Cox plays Adam Lawrence, deputy head of MI6 who finds himself promoted unexpectedly after his boss is attacked by a former lover (played by real-life Bond girl Olga Kurylenko).

In a worryingly prescient bit of writing (the series was shot in early 2022), it’s also taking place in the middle of a hotly-contested British leadership election, where all sorts of interested parties are willing to blackmail and kill to make sure their preferred candidate gets into power.

For Cox, it’s a chance to be part of a genre he’s loved for years: the spy thriller. “I am a big [fan] – are people not?” he asks. “It’s such a great genre to dramatise.”

Charlie Cox (Handout)
Charlie Cox (Handout)

He’s not wrong. Shows like The Night Manager, Slow Horses and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy have been a mainstay on UK screens for years – Cox himself counts Bridge of Spies as one of his favourite films of the past decade – so when the film’s creator Matt Charman asked him to come on board for Treason he jumped at the chance.

“Some people are – their day job is to act on the behalf of our nation, and engage in espionage to discover secrets of a hostile nation in order to keep ourselves safe,” he says. “It feels like such an exciting world. Probably 80 per cent of it is actually a lot of paperwork and boring day to day office jobs. But I think it’s so rich in terms of what can the possibilities of what could and can happen.”

With its talk of governments, elections and foreign agents, Treason is an explicitly political show - and living in America, the Brit has been acutely aware of the political turmoil unfolding on both sides of the pond.

“It’s hard to get away from the fact that it’s a little bit of a circus,” he says of the US political situation at present. “Just a different type of circus – it’s a circus with different rides in the UK.”

Whether it’s worse than the past, he’s not so sure. “I do feel like the time you live in feels particularly scary and [more] outlandish than it has in the past. But then you look back in time and you talk to people in my parents’ generation, and they remember times where it’s all the same stuff, all the same concerns...” The best thing to do, he adds, is to “laugh at it a little bit.”

Turmoil: Cox as Adam Lawrence in Treason (Netflix)
Turmoil: Cox as Adam Lawrence in Treason (Netflix)

Though Treason’s focus is more on the glamorous, anonymous figures operating in the shadows than the figures on the news at the heart of all this political turmoil, Cox is adamant that the show is different from most other spy shows out there.

“You're waiting for some massive action sequence to take place, and and it doesn't take you there, it takes you back into the home and you start having these scenes where Adam’s children are asking questions about how their life is going to be impacted,” he says. “That made it feel not only different in terms of what we were used to in this genre, but also a fun challenge for for me.”

An unexpected bonus to filming a UK-based show: “I figured out when we were filming, it was the first time I’ve used my own accent on camera for like 10 years.”

Born in 1982 and brought up in Sussex, Cox trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before breaking out in the 2007 fantasy film Stardust opposite Claire Danes.

A brief stint on Downton Abbey followed before he struck out for the US, landing a role in Boardwalk Empire in 2011 as Irish immigrant and IRA operative Owen Sleater.

Since then, he’s been based in the US pretty much continuously - “I have found that doors have opened in America much more readily than they have in the UK,” he says. “And I don’t know why that is.” Whatever the reason, he’s been in demand, most recently as the lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night Matt Murdock in the brutal Marvel/ Netflix show Daredevil.

He’s been a mainstay of the Marvel Universe for almost a decade now. Has it changed his life, I ask? Bluntly, no. Though he gets stopped on the way to the subway more often than he used to, it’s not the level of fame that he’s seen some co-stars grapple with: “You can’t go and get a coffee without it being a thing.”

“They are obviously actors out there who get one role, and it explodes,” he says. He’s careful not to name any names but describes where people he knows have had “a moment in their career, which just changed everything, and then they can’t open the front door because of the scripts [blocking it].”

Cox as Daredevil (David Lee/Netflix)
Cox as Daredevil (David Lee/Netflix)

“That has never happened to me. I’ve had to fight for every really great role… often, I’m like the third or fourth on the list. I’ve gotten lucky.”

That said, work has been steady. In addition to filming Treason, he’s already put the spandex back on this year to make a cameo appearance in Marvel’s new TV series She-Hulk – which features his character making perhaps the first-ever superhero walk of shame – and in 2024 will be starring in Daredevil: Born Again, which continues Murdock’s story as a Disney+ series. If he’s worried about the prospect of superhero fatigue, he doesn’t show it.

“I’m not concerned at all about me. I love doing it,” he says. As far as audiences go, “it’s not really my job to wonder. Maybe this will change one day, we’ll wake up and it’ll be a very different landscape, but I feel like what we’re learning is that the appetite for this kind of stuff is pretty much insatiable. People absolutely love it.”

For now, though, he’s focusing on honing his spycraft - just not of the 007 variety - and as the interview draws to a close I ask if, with all his newly-acquired experience, he’d make a good spy.

“I’d be dreadful,” he says frankly. “I’m a terrible liar. And doing anything covertly – this time of year around Christmas, when you have to be covert with presents and stuff, I’m just an absolute disaster.” Maybe sticking to the spandex is a better idea.

Treason will air on Netflix from December 26