If you’ve been watching the new Netflix OriginalDaredevil, which premiered April 10th, you may have noticed a familiar face. NYU Film School Professor Vondie Curtis-Hall plays reporter Ben Urich on the hit series from Marvel. Vondie took the time to answer a few questions about the series for NYU. (Resources: https://tisch.nyu.edu/film-tv/)
NYU: What was your experience like on the show? Try to keep it spoiler free!
VCH: My experience working on Marvel’s Daredevil was different than any other, film or TV project. We were sworn to secrecy, no pictures, no visitors, you couldn’t say you were on the show, we received our scripts on a special encrypted website, you couldn’t download, so you couldn’t mark your script with beats, thoughts, transitions, all those actor prep tools – you learned your lines on screen. There were always [paparazzi] trying to get pictures and being [chased] away. Marvel is very serious about security and maintaining the mystique and protecting their fan base from spoilers. Which works very well for their big releases, Daredevil included.
NYU: How did you prepare to play Ben Urich?
VCH: In preparing for Ben Urich, I went to Forbidden Planet on Broadway a few blocks from Tisch, and asked about comics or graphic novels with Ben Urich in them. As I read, I had no idea Ben Urich was such an iconic character in the Marvel universe. I found out that he not only had a relationship with Daredevil, but also Spider Man. He’s a chain smoking, glasses wearing, tough-as-nails reporter. ABC Studios (also a partner with Marvel and Netflix on the show) wouldn’t let me smoke, so I kept the glasses, and the vibe of the character.
NYU: What are your thoughts on how the series has been received by the media and critics?
VCH: It is a great feeling to be on a hit show. A show that has critical and popular acclaim. Everyone sets out to make a great movie or television show, but it’s hard to do. The entertainment Gods have to smile greatly upon you…
NYU: How do you feel about the tone of the series compared to other Marvel properties?
VCH: The tone of Marvel’s Daredevil is different than any of the other Marvel franchises. There are no special effects (or very few). It’s all about the characters and good acting. When I was offered the role and spoke the with the head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb, and the Executive Producer, Steven S. DeKnight they referenced some of my favorite movies when talking about how they wanted the show to feel. They talked about Dog Day Afternoon, The French Connection, The Conversation, [and] Midnight Cowboy as examples of what they were going to create. I immediately knew this was the right show for me.
NYU: How do you balance teaching and a career as an actor and director?
VCH: I consider myself extremely blessed to have the opportunity to teach at NYU and when I was offered Daredevil I was concerned about how I could juggle both jobs, and do them well. I informed the Assistant Director that I was teaching at NYU on Mondays and Tuesdays and asked if it would be possible to not schedule me those days, since the show revolves around about four characters who shoot in two or three day blocks. We began shooting in July, finished in December, and production was able to made it work.
The entire first season of Daredevil is currently available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below!
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