We present an exclusive interview with actor Toby Leonard Moore, who plays the role of Wesley, Kingpin henchman in Netflix Marvel's Daredevil. Moore appeared in many tv show such as Underbelly, White Collar, The Pavific and in movies like the recent John Wick.
How were you chosen for the role and what was the audition like?
I had been back home in Australia for about 7 months before retuning to New York where I'm now based. I think I was only back for about a week when I was asked to audition. I auditioned on a Monday, met Steven DeKnight and Jeff Loeb on Wednesday, did costume fittings and makeup tests Thursday and Friday and I was shooting the very first shot of the first episode at 6am the following Monday! So it was a very quick process.
Your character has been created solely for the show. How was he developed to display a characterization in line with characters with so much history already behind them? Did you contribute in any way?
I think it all came together pretty organically. I was given plenty of space to play with freedom, which was such a gift. Wilson Fisk has had so many assistants/fixers/arrangers over the years, and I didn't want Wesley to just be a lapdog. As the scripts were being released, I saw that Wesley was being thrown into situations where he would have to be charming in one moment and menacing the next. For me, the text is always God. So with each episode I saw a character forming that some might perhaps call a psychopath. And I think that's far more interesting to watch and more exciting to invest in than your average assistant.
What was the challenge for you, having to interpret such a cold and morally negative character? Which choices did you make in terms of gestures and voice to portray this aspect?
Playing a “baddie” I think always has it's traps. It can be easy to say “Well this character is immoral or amoral, so I'm going to play them in an evil way.” That can become very boring to watch very quickly. The thing I love about Marvel's villains is that they are not merely two-dimensional stereotypes, they are well developed human characters that have aspects of both good and bad. Regarding Wesley specifically, the amount of loyalty he shows Fisk is extremely noble, loving and dedicated. Those three traits in people are always admired, so I focussed on playing Wesley truthfully as a whole human and not simply as a villain. It's always vital to play the character, not judge to character. I also focussed on stillness due to Wesley's inherently cerebral nature. He doesn't need to get his hands dirty; he has others to do that for him. So why exert yourself unnecessarily? So it all became about ease of speech and movement, which I hope suited him.
In the scenes where you represent Fisk, you have the responsibility of creating a sort of myth, a powerful, ruthless person who acts in the shadows. When you act with him, you provide a counterpart to underline this aspect even more. How much did you and D'Onofrio work on the interactions between your characters?
Vincent and I seemed to click immediately. He was extremely warm and generous and I learnt a great deal working with him. I felt as though he took me under his wing as an actor and that translated to the scenes well. I always thought there was an almost paternal relationship between Fisk and Wesley and I think that comes through in the performances. I find it so rare for the villains' personal relationships to be portrayed on screen. It makes the inner lives for both characters much richer.
Compared to Vincent D'Onofrio, Charlie Cox has a relatively shorter career. How was it, working with him? How did the two of you prepare?
Charlie is a wonderful actor and a fantastic guy. He's from London and I'm from Australia so I think the first conversation we had was about cricket? Ha! After that it was all about the natural state of play.
Your character is part of a bigger universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which goes beyond the boundaries of television and into cinema. How do you feel about this and what do you think about what Marvel is building between cinema and TV?
Marvel is obviously capturing the imaginations of audiences world wide. I love seeing films like the Avengers at the cinema because they are big-screen movies. But the way that Marvel is now branching out into the land of television means the scope for their content is limited only by their ideas, which seem to be immeasurable. It's very exciting and is an honour and a joy to be a part of it.
Did you have to deal with Marvel's renowned secrecy for Daredevil?
I certainly did! Marvel is know for protecting their ideas with a passion, but if I say anymore about it the Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. will probably end up on my doorstep and string me up by my pinky fingers.
What are your projects for the future? Will you be part of other Netflix shows, like The Defenders, which will feature Daredevil among its protagonists?
The next project I'll be working on is a new project for Showtime called “Billions”. It stars Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti and is set in the world of finance in New York. Excited to start shooting sometime in the next 3 months! I'll be posting photos of that on my twitter: @tobesmoore Thanks!