Daredevil season 2: How that hallway fight scene was choreographed
... or rather, the hallway-to-stairwell one-take fight scene
WARNING: The following contains spoilers from season 2 of Daredevil. Read at your own risk!
Well, that looked familiar. The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen once again got trapped in a building and punched and kicked his way through wave after wave of foes. This time, though, he wound up in a dimly lit stairwell after fighting off the first biker gang members that arrived to confront him and The Punisher.
So how did they pull it off — and up the ante at the same time? Daredevil fight coordinator Phil Silvera shares the behind-the-scenes secrets of the Hallway Fight Scene, Take Two:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, it looks like you guys did a sequel to the hallway fight scene. Is that how you thought about it going in?
PHIL SILVERA: Charlie [Cox, who plays Daredevil] called this paying homage to what we did last season, but on crack. [Laughs] This time around, I think the story’s just very different. Last year, that hallway fight, he was tired, already beaten, broken, hurt, but he comes through to save this child. Here, this is more — as the showrunners describe it — more of a descent into hell. He’s challenged by Frank Castle [The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal] not to cross that line, but you feel like he might actually cross it as he’s moving down into hell.
RELATED VIDEO: Charlie Cox explains how Daredevil ‘pays homage’ to its season 1 hallway fight
How did Charlie react to doing a version of the hallway scene again?
Charlie loved it. I think originally, we all felt the same way, that [the hallway fight] was great and we don’t need to do that again, but this was so different and we were all excited about doing it.
How did the idea to do this iteration in a stairwell come about?
It was scripted that way. [The writers] wanted to do something similar but take it in a different direction, and I think we [the stunt team] started from a similar base in the hallway, but took it to the staircase, so it was a mixture of concept meetings and scouts and [learning] what we were able to do, what we could pull off in the time frame, and in the space.
What was different about putting this scene together compared to the season 1 fight?
We had to move the camera in a different way and pass it off to different people. Last year, we had a track in the ceiling, which just rotated and went back and forth [with the camera]. This season, we weren’t on a set. We were on an actual location, so we were working within the confines of it not being a set, which is a lot more controllable. And we had three days to put this all together before we filmed, so on top of the already crazy demanding schedule, because that’s not our only sequence in the episode, we also have the rooftop fight [against The Punisher] … It was tricky, to say the least. [Laughs]
Tell me about the camera placement. Season 1 did use a simpler technique, but here, the camera had to basically fly down the stairs, right? What was it like figuring that out?
For the stairwell sequence, it was hard to get everybody in there to be able to do it, and the camera had to move in a specific way so it’s safe for the performers and stunt men. It’s a very tight space. We had multiple people fighting in there, falling down staircases, going over banisters, getting kicked down stairs … At the bottom, where you have almost six guys coming at him, you’re swirling in and out and around it. We definitely did a lot more handheld, passing the camera back and forth to each other for the sequence.
Last season’s sequence also highlighted the ragged, tired breathing of Daredevil himself, but this season just had a faint heartbeat and nothing else as far as sound went. Why not show how tired he is, even if this is a different story?
If we had [added the breathing], it would have been literally the same thing we did before. He’s aggressively moving through them and using a sense of brutality that’s a lot nastier than it was last season. You’ve gotta remember, he has a gun in his hand and a chain in the other one, so every time he hits these guys, it’s like he can split their heads open if he wanted to.
How long did it take to properly film the entire scene?
If I tell you that, it kind of gives away the secret! [Laughs] I’ll say that we had the same amount of time to do the sequence that we had to do the first hallway sequence. We spent an entire day going through it.
Do you know what the total body count is?
[Laughs] I can tell you we had 11 performers in there and some actors involved … sometimes they had to play multiple roles because they were constantly coming at him.
So basically, the stuntmen were getting knocked down and then running downstairs to confront Daredevil again?
Yeah, pretty much.
Outside of this scene, season 2 also posed a challenge because you not only have to handle Daredevil’s brutal fighting style, but also those of The Punisher and Elektra (Elodie Yung). How did you differ in your approach to all three?
Well, you want to design the characters around their origins in the comic book world, which I’m a huge fan of myself. Daredevil, whose father was a boxer, he always pays homage to his father, so you see the boxing elements of it. He’s also had a lot of Eastern training over the years from Stick [played by Scott Glenn], so he has an acrobatic sense to him.
The Punisher, he’s tactically trained. You see him dispense of people from a distance, but when he gets in close and personal, you see a tactical side to how he does things. There’s a different type of efficiency to it. He’s not afraid to put people down, so you see that training in there.
Elektra, she will have a similar training to Daredevil, because they come from the same teacher to a degree, and it reflects her personality and her dismissive, violent nature. She’s not afraid to kill and has killed. She fights the urge every now and then, but sometimes she cuts loose with it. She’s constantly crossing between those two worlds.
What are you most excited for fans to see?
There’s a sequence you see in the trailer where Daredevil dives for the first time. That’s a classic, iconic moment, where he’s diving after someone to save them, and we’re getting that now. It’s great.
Daredevil season 2 is streaming on Netflix. (For more on the drama, EW’s binge guide can be found here.)