We present an exclusive interview to actor Geoffrey Cantor, who played Mitchell Ellison in Marve’s Daredevil. In his long career Cantor worked in theater, cinema and televison with roles on Law & Order, The Sopranos, Man on a Ledge, Damages. Person of Interest, Hail, Caesar! and The Blacklist.
Did you expect the return of Mitchell Ellison in season two? Can you tell us the story behind this return?
I’m not sure if I expected him to return as much as I hoped he would. That I didn’t die or get arrested surely made me think it was a strong possibility. I was also given a lot of very positive feedback by the show’s creatives, from the producers to the writers and edit team, and hints were being dropped, especially given the reaction to Ellison after season one. The story behind the return is a simple one, I think. This is really just conjecture on my part, but I think that they had a choice to make about how best to give the audience a perspective that they understood through which to view this world. The NY Bulletin provides that lens, and Ellison is the New York Bulletin.
Your character goes through a strong evolution from the first season, becoming a true mentor for Karen Page. What were your feelings during this evolution of Mitchell Ellison?
This was a gift for me to be honest. In the ﬁrst season, we’d all come to understand Ellison in a very speciﬁc way. We meet him in the second stage of his career as a journalist. He was tired of the grind, the exhaustion, the hustle. But we also see him as a caring friend to Urich. That loss really rattled him, and the combination of anger and guilt that one would associate with that loss only made Ellison more aware of the choices he’d made. Karen’s earnestness and drive to get to the heart of a story put that in even greater relief, and forced him to reevaluate and reassess those choices. Ben’s death sort of showed him a path. Karen’s appearance on the scene forced him to start to walk that path.
In the first season you played a very important role for the evolution of Ben Urich, a character much loved by the fans. What did his disappearance entail to your role, considering that now you’re the only spokesman of the world of journalism in this serial?
I can’t speak for the fans who lost a character that they loved, but Ellison lost his only friend. Perhaps that will allow the audience to connect with Ellison and will further the ability of the Paper to be the eyes of the
audience. Urich’s loss gave Ellison renewed purpose, and Karen gave that purpose a focus. I suppose, in a way, we are now the paper’s spokespeople.
Ellison basically interacts only with Karen. How it was working with Deborah Ann Woll and what can you tell us about her? Deborah Ann Woll is just an extraordinary actress, and a very very special person. Working opposite her is not really work at all. She considers every word, every line, every moment, and goes much further in her prep than most actors I know. I’d like to think that we are similar in that. When we work together, it is eﬀortless, because she is so completely present. There is not a false bone in her body. I think that is why we have also become friends outside of the show. We found common ground as actors, connected immediately, and realized that connection went deeper than just what was happening on screen. I’ve said this to her, and I’ll repeat it now: It extremely rare for someone my age to actually make a new friend (especially in this business) and I am not exaggerating one iota when I say that her friendship is one of the best gifts that this show has given me.
Are there any resemblances in real life between you and your character? If so, which ones?
I’m laughing at this one, because I’m sure that there are many similarities. Some are more obvious than others, some are intentional, some less so. And I’m sure that the writers of season two played around a little with my dialogue based on the ﬁrst season. Ellison is a truth ﬁnder and doesn’t suﬀer fools at all. I’d like to think I have that integrity. His sense of humor and mine are very similar, in that it is often based on sarcasm and irony. I allow myself to be me in the middle of him, because that is what I do with most of the characters I play. Our lives are diﬀerent of course, his experiences are diﬀerent, his relationships, but I think that were I in his shoes, really and fully in his shoes, I’d be very much like the man you see on ﬁlm…maybe a bit less intense.
What about your next projects? We know that you’ve worked in “The Wizard of Lies” with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. That comes out in September I think. I’ve only one scene, but the opportunity to work with Robert De Niro was quite remarkable. He was simply lovely – charming, funny and supportive. A real honor to have worked with him. And I do think he will be quite amazing in the role. I’m also working in the ﬁrst season of AMC’s Feed the Beast playing a grief counselor name Christian. The irony of it is that I am a complete foodie and would have loved to have played a chef in the kitchen. I believe that it will hit TV in May, but I don’t have to many details. And I appear in two short ﬁlms, Karl Manhair, Postal Inspector (with Amy Rutberg and Peter McRobbie, also from Daredevil) and 411 (with F. Murray Abraham) currently in the festival circuit.
Ellison will be back even in season three, probably. What do you expect?
If there is a season three, and I certainly hope (and expect) that there will be, I’ve a feeling that Ellison and the New York Bulletin will be part of the world of Daredevil. Gonna keep the beard just in case.