Exclusive Interview: Scott Glenn talks Marvel's Daredevil and The Leftovers
The hallmark of a great character actor is familiarity even if you donít know their name. Scott Glenn is one of those actors you recognize when you see him even if the name doesnít ring a bell. Having appeared in over sixty films including APOCALYPSE NOW, THE RIGHT STUFF, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, BACKDRAFT, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, the 74-year-old actor has a resume that Hollywood actors dream about. In the last couple of years, Glenn has made the segue to the small screen and appeared in roles on both HBOís The Leftovers and the Netflix series Daredevil. I got the chance to chat with Mr. Glenn who was in Austin, Texas on the set of the upcoming second season of The Leftovers.
It is great to talk to one of the best parts of Marvelís Daredevil!
Scott Glenn: [Laughs] Thank you.
In anticipation of talking to you, I rewatched the first season of The Leftovers and seeing you in two different television series after such a great career on the big screen. Was there a big shift in going from film to television?
SG: No, not at all. I am in Austin right now working on The Leftovers. My experience with television over the course of my life, up until The Leftovers was not good. I realized there is a huge difference, a universal difference, between sponsored television and unsponsored. Itís not so much cable versus network but sponsored and unsponsored. When it is unsponsored and doesnít take a break every fifteen minutes to sell something, there is a degree of freedom. The air you breathe is way freer. There is little difference from working on feature films. And the production values, like with Daredevil, are every bit as good. For me, the only template to date are The Leftovers and Daredevil, but it is just as good as making feature films.
Since you are returning for the second season of The Leftovers, are there plans for you to return for the second season of Daredevil?
SG: There has. I am reluctant to talk too much about the future of Daredevil because the Marvel people have been really generous and helpful and given me everything I need to do the part. They have been great to work with. Having said that, security and secrecy with Marvel seems to be close to a religion and I really want to respect that. Whatís coming up on Daredevil I would rather let the Marvel people tell you rather than myself.
Did Marvel give you a lot of leeway to work with the character of Stick?
SG: Yeah, they did. They gave me an enormous amount of leeway.† When I first got the part, I really didnít know anything about Stick and not much about Daredevil. So I read a bunch of the graphic novels and talked to Steve DeKnight and Doug Petrie and Sam Thomas about the character. Basically, I said ĎI am going to say the words youíve written but I am going to fool around with this. If you think I am missing it or screwing something up or going somewhere I shouldnít let me know, but otherwise give me free reigní. And they did, completely. The blueprint was 100% theirs but the filling in was all mine.
Having not been familiar with the character and this being your first true foray into the comic book world, is there a character that you have ever envisioned yourself playing?
SG: Not in this world. I cannot imagine anything being better than Stick. A character that I have always loved but never thought of playing because it is outside of my ethnicity is Zatoichi, the Japanese blind swordsman. I kind of get to do that plus get to play a great character. The way I would describe Stick is he is on a moral tightrope all the time and I love that. It is really fun to play.
Was it difficult putting yourself in the position of playing a blind character that has these abilities?
SG: Yes, it was. When I took the part I realized I had never played blind before. Then I thought not only am I playing blind but it is super physical with a ton of fights and martial arts. Especially the last fight with Charlie Cox. Someone told me it was the longest single fight ever shot for television. I donít know if that is true or not but we did two solid days with almost no dialogue and before we started, I tried to think how am I going to do this. For me, once I found the key how to do it, it became really fun and I think ultimately not only good for me but for anyone who would use the following for the key to playing blind.
What I did was something I used to do when I was in the Service called peripheral walking. You can do it right now. Just stop paying attention to what is in front of your eyes and the only information you take in is what is on the periphery of your vision. Whatís happening off to your left, your right, above and below you. To do it, you have to relax. You canít force yourself to do it, but the more you allow that information to come in, the easier it will be to do things like walk up and down stairs and anything physically but not be focused on what is directly in front of you. Does that make any sense?
Absolutely. So, when Daredevil is being marketed, your name is a big name, so seeing you involved and then only be one episode, a very important episode in the middle of the season, were you envisioning expanding that more and grow the character to be a bigger part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
SG: Iíd love to. I would love to do that.
There is definitely a Yoda vibe to some of the things Stick says. A gruffer kind of Yoda with your messages to Daredevil. Were any of those things scripted or did you get to come up with any of those?
SG: The specifics were scripted, but the character of Stick if you read deeply into it, is all there. Specific behavior and dialogue, the Marvel people gave me free reign. The first scene we shot was the scene in the park and the beginning of our relationship. At the end of that day, Steve DeKnight was watching closed circuit from California and on set were Doug Petrie and Sam Thomas and they all said at the end of the day Ďyouíve got it and just take off from thereí. There were times where I would sort of edit things and fool around. I never felt like I was in a harness at all.
If you had the ability to have an actual superpower in real life, what would you choose?
SG: Oh boy, if I had the ability I would choose time travel. Yeah. Physically, for sure, I would have the ability to fly. I have always thought, as the Native Americans say in some tribes, if you ever come back as a creature other than a human being, my choice has always been a Perigrine falcon.
With The Leftovers, you had a good dynamic with Justin Theroux and the mystery of the show. With the setting changing for season two, can we expect a lot of shake-ups from the first season?
SG: I think that with Damon Lindelof, you can always expect a lot of shake-ups. I am here working on it right now. Yeah, it is going to be something. Even all of us in the cast are waiting with bated breath to see whatís coming out of Damonís rich and insane imagination.
Awesome, I am looking forward to seeing what is coming in the next season. I really appreciate your time and look forward to seeing you back in both shows!
SG: Thanks, you too!
Marvel's Daredevil is now available on Netflix. Season two of The Leftovers debuts on HBO sometime in 2015.