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There's A New Badass On Daredevil & Her Name Is Elodie Yung

Photo: Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock.
Elodie Yung slinks into the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil (premiering today on Netflix) as Elektra, the mysterious, rich-girl martial artist who enlists Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) to help her take down the Yakuza. But the French-Cambodian actress could have ended up playing another heroine soon to be gracing the big screen: Wonder Woman. Yung auditioned for the part that eventually went to Gal Gadot.

Why might she be a fit for these comic book characters? Well, it could be because Yung is 100% believable as someone who could level every single one of us without breaking a sweat. “Maybe that’s it,” she said during a recent phone interview. “Maybe they think that I can kick ass.”

Yung, who has a black belt in karate and grew up on the outskirts of Paris, doesn't even see Elektra as a hero — super or otherwise. And watching this stealthy fighter with questionable morals reconnect with her former flame Daredevil, you can see why. She's more of an antihero whose endgame is anything but clear. (Jennifer Garner played the character in 2003's Daredevil and an ill-fated spinoff two years later.)

Though you might recognize Yung from her previous supporting parts — she seduced Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and popped up in this year's Gods of EgyptDaredevil is her highest-profile role to date.

Yung rang us up from Argentina (one of the many stops on the Daredevil press tour) to chat about getting inside Elektra’s head.
When you auditioned, were you familiar with the character Elektra?
“It was completely new to me. I have never seen the movie. I never really read comics.”

What did you like about her?

“I honestly like everything about her. She’s such a complex and complicated character...What I liked is that I had to discover this new world. Reading the comics was very interesting to me and I really tried to grasp the essence of Elektra. I really wanted to respect that. Then we added layers to her, working with the writers for the show. She’s a very independent woman… She comes across to be this very strong female character, this strong woman, but she does have failure. This is where the work is interesting to me, trying to understand that and portray that.”

Can you expand on the idea of failure?
“When we started talking about Elektra, [the writers] told me they thought she was someone cold, someone you could classify as a sociopath. So I looked into it, and you know, a sociopath is someone that can't bond with anyone. She can't have human bonds. But I think Elektra has one, and that’s probably her weakness. She once loved Matt Murdock, and the love she had for him is actually her failure — or maybe her strength? We’ll find out in the series. I think that makes her human.”

She’s a slippery character. Was that fun to play?
“Absolutely. It was great to be in the grey all the time and making a choice on the day if Elektra is lying or if she’s saying the truth. She manipulates people… [but] sometimes she's very honest and speaks her heart.”
Do you think her intentions are genuine?
“As a sociopath — and that’s the side that I tried to explore — she absolutely needed Matthew’s help for her mission. She needed him. She says to him, 'You’re the best fighter I know.' Now, does she have other motives? Maybe. She definitely has this manipulative aspect to her personality. But I think she is capable of being honest as well.”

When did you start doing karate, and what was your training like growing up?
“Well, I started when I was 9 years old. I grew up in a very nasty neighborhood. It's called le quatre-vingt-treize. It’s outside of Paris. It’s a suburb. It’s just nasty — quite dangerous and all that. I think my dad came up with this idea that I should be able to defend myself. He asked me when I was 9, ‘Do you want to do dance or do you want to do karate?’ with a big smile on his face. As a kid, I was like, oh, karate seems to be the most fun out of the two disciplines so I’m going to take that. I trained for so many years. It was just a social thing. I did it for a long time. I stopped when I went to university."

Did you pick it back up for the show or before then?

“Every time I book a job that requires fighting elements and some physicality, that is when I get back on track and train. Other than that, I don’t really train much. It’s not really one of my hobbies anymore.... You know, I’m French, so I like to drink coffee and chill a bit. That’s what I was doing when I was not on set. I was not really training.”

Did you have to learn anything new for the show?
“Actually, I did. They incorporated some capoeira moves and other disciplines. So I did my best. I had to learn the sai — Elektra has these weapons. They are not swords. It’s quite hard to manipulate. It's like three daggers in one and you have to twist it. That’s not something you can just learn on the spot.”

Is there a karate move you think every young woman should know, given your training?
“I remember growing up, the teacher I had always stressed that you learn karate but you’re not supposed to use karate. That's one of the philosophies. I actually think there are other martial arts that are much more efficient if you get attacked. Karate is really good for punches and kicks. A good kick well-placed between legs if your assailant is a man is a go-to.”

Do you think we can expect you back for another season?
“I really can't tell you. Regarding the storyline, I don’t know. I would love to because it’s a treat for me to play Elektra. I would be more than happy to do it again.”