Elektra Actress Elodie Yung Loves Being a Femme Fatale

by | March 17, 2016 | Comments

(Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Netflix)


If you watched the two-part trailer for Daredevil season two, you saw that Elektra (Elodie Yung) doesn’t show up until the end of part one — and that’s how she makes her entrance in the series, too. You’ll be glad all 13 episodes of the series premiere at once so you can binge until Elektra arrives. (Just kidding — we knew you were going to binge anyway.)

Elektra has a history with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), and she returns now that he’s fighting crime as Daredevil at night. Elodie Yung spoke with a group of reporters before the Daredevil panel for the Television Critics Association and we were there to ask her questions. She was joined by Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel television. Daredevil returns March 18 on Netflix.

Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Elodie, were you a big Elektra fan before or did you do a crash course on the comic books once you got the part?

Elodie Yung: Crash course. I was a fan of the series, of Daredevil. That’s the only thing I knew about this world, really. I never read comic books before, so I did my homework, did my crash course.

Jeph Loeb: It was important to us that we find the right person for the role. Oftentimes we do find people that don’t know Marvel — it really doesn’t matter. In many ways, it enables them to start at a blank slate and really interpret the character the way that it’s being presented for this particular medium. So yes, it should feel like there’s no one else that could play Elektra other than Elodie, but it should also feel like if you don’t know who Elektra is, that this is somebody who is challenging Matt Murdock and questioning his values and reminding him of his first love. Those are the things that are as important as it is to be this iconic character of Elektra.

Q: You do practice martial arts. Did you hurt anybody behind the scenes?

Yung: No, no, no, no. I wouldn’t hurt any on purpose, nor accidentally. No, we were very much in control, but yeah, it helps. I’m a black belt of Karate so for this type of part, it really helps because I have a strong base. Elektra is way better than me — I’m a bit rusty. I mean, I’m a black belt, but I stopped when I was 20. I’m a bit older now, so I needed to get back on track and learn new things as well, because she’s a killer. So she should be much more than a Karate martial artist. In the way she’s fighting in the series, we’ve introduced Capoeiria. I had to learn how to manipulate the sais. There’s some Muay Thai in the way she moves as well — a lot of fun stuff to learn and do.

Q: Elektra is mysterious and exotic. What is your take on her?

Yung: Yeah, that’s what they keep saying. I don’t see myself as exotic. She’s mysterious, yes, because she comes back into Matt’s life out of the blue. He probably wondered what she’s done during these 10 years he didn’t see her. And she hides most of her life from Matt, so in that sense, yes, she’s mysterious. My take on her is as far as Matt is trying to figure out how to handle justice and how he is as a hero in his city, I think Elektra tries also to figure out who she is. I think it’s probably why she comes back into Matt’s life.

Loeb: If season one was really about Matt’s decision to become a hero, season two really became about ‘What is it to be a hero?’ So in introducing the characters of Frank Castle and Elektra, it was to be able to push and pull on Matt. It wasn’t just to have those characters then join the ongoing ensemble cast. It actually was to have Frank on the one hand, who sees justice in a very black-and-white kind of way, whereas Elektra lives more in the gray — or says she lives more in the gray. I think one of the things that’s so dynamic about Elodie’s performance is you never quite know if Elektra’s telling you the truth.

I think the idea of Elektra being a strong-willed, mysterious, independent, to a certain extent femme fatale, is the kind of character that an audience speaks to and yearns for, and at the same time, should be taken aback by. If we can continue to play that, then particularly when you want people to watch 13 episodes in a row, this is one of the gifts that Elodie brings us.

RT: How do you feel when Jeph calls you a femme fatale?

Yung: Feels good. It’s not often that I’m being called femme fatale. Thank you, Jeph. Can you carry on? I like that.

RT: Is Elektra a femme fatale?

Yung: Yeah, I think so in many ways. She’s a strong woman. If she needs a man, she will take him. She’ll just do what feels right for her and she wouldn’t ask permission to do anything.

Loeb: I also think there’s an element of that, and that’s more of what I meant, that there is an element of danger that comes along with it. That you know that if you’re going to dance with Elektra, there is just as much a chance that you are going to fall in love with her as you are going to wind up dead. That to me is the traditional nature of what it is to be a femme fatale. You are putting yourself at risk by coming into contact with someone who is this strong, this independent and has her own agenda. That agenda is going to come over whatever agenda you happen to think you have. That will certainly put our hero in jeopardy.

Yung: Big time.

Q: Do you feel like you’re part of a big agenda shift in the way comic books are presented in film and television, with more female driven stories being told?

Yung: I do feel privileged to play Elektra, because definitely she is a strong female character. She’s a strong character. It would be nice if eventually we’d just say she’s a strong character, not a strong female character. Yeah, I think it’s important to discover a character like her and I feel very lucky.

Loeb: Obviously we get asked this question a lot and it’s curious to us in many ways. If you look at not just Marvel in the comics but Marvel in the movies and television, if you start on S.H.I.E.L.D. between Agent May, Daisy and Mockingbird, the list goes on and on on that show. Agent Carter is back for a second helping. Then you get to Jessica Jones but it’s not just Jessica Jones. When you look at that show, Rachael Taylor, who plays Trish Walker, and Carrie-Ann Moss, who plays Jeri Hogarth, each of them bring a different flavor to those things. I actually think what Elodie said is really the right thing. It certainly is a hope that there’s going to come a time where we’re not having a conversation about whether it’s a female character. It’s just how do you feel about playing this character? That will come with time. I can certainly tell you from those of us that work on the creative side of bringing these shows that Marvel never looks at any of those situations as whether it’s race, religion or gender. It’s just: what’s the best story?

RT: Elodie, if you did a crash course, what was one thing you got from the comic books that really clued you into Elektra?

Yung: I think, you know, what I tried to capture by reading the comics is I wanted to keep the coldness. We had conversations at length with Doug [Petrie] and Marco [Ramirez]. We think Elektra is kind of a sociopath, you know. This world is a game for her. It’s like a chess game, and what motivates her is what she wants. She’ll use anything she needs to use to get to her goal, and if she needs to kill people, she would. She has this coldness and this sociopath in her, and I tried to keep that, really. But, on the other hand, we wanted to create a character with different layers. And I think I think Elektra isn’t a bad person. She’s not a good person. She’s a person with different traits, with layers, and she’s searching for who she is. So, really, in this season, there’s an arc to her story, and hopefully, we’ll find out who she really is by the end.

  • Maka Raka

    yeah…too bad she could not pull it off

    • Sadah

      I thought she did a good job.

    • Joe Eoj

      Don’t know what you’re typing about. Elodie did a fantastic job bringing Elektra to life. The episode that introduced her character was one of the best of the season, due in no small part to her. She seduced me like she seduced Matt.

      I’ll add: The show as a whole kind of lost some steam the last few episodes. This wasn’t the fault of any of the actors.

      • Maka Raka

        Maybe. Maybe her part was just poorly written. I liked her at the beginning too but as her part becomes increasingly dramatic it just doesn’t work anymore. Lots of stuff this year was poorly written unfortunately, what a disappointment.

        • Joe Eoj

          Sadly not everyone that wants to be a writer has a knack for it. If you think it’s bad in film. I can assure you the comic book world is much worse. There’s only ever about 10 or so good titles a month the rest ranges from ‘not bad in parts’ to ‘utter waste of time’. Every once in a while though we get something great but it’s few and far between. Still it’s enough to just keep me hanging on.

    • Doodlee Pigvirus

      she was amazing in the role, but i’ll concede that the writing, for the whole season, was a little off. there’s only so much an actor can do with lackluster material.

      • Slatanic

        I agree with that. I thought Froggy had some of the worst scripting ever seen in a show this season as well.

    • sunnavab

      Yeah, i didn’t feel like Elektra was dangerous in the least.

    • AKA

      Uh what? She was amazing. Just look at her facial expressions while she goads Matt into beating the guy who killed his father.

    • vongoh

      Really could not possibly disagree more, Elodie was one of the standoout performances of the entire season

  • Doodlee Pigvirus

    except the list doesn’t “go on and on” and female-led projects are extremely rare in the Marvel universe…we’re lucky to get 1 out of 20 in films. it’s curious that the “best story” is nearly always about a white male and even more curious that Loeb continues to trot out that excuse so obliviously.

    • Roger Wilco

      The paying audience is still predominantly male. There are also very few “male-led projects” in fiction that appeals primarilly to females. As Marvel style superheo fiction gains a wider audience, you will see more female characters to appeal to that segment of the demographic. We already saw this in the late 80’s with the introduction of comics aimed at a mature audience who had grown up with the medium. It’s a business, not a vocation.

      • Doodlee Pigvirus

        your information is outdated. male comic book readers now only make up slightly more than half of readership and moviegoers are predominantly female. the bullshit excuses and pleas of “just be patient” aren’t going to fly anymore.

        • Roger Wilco

          Moviegoers may be predominantly female but the paying audience for marvel superhero movies is not. And as I said that is changing, as Marvel tries to expand their business to appeal more to women. For the life of me I don’t see why that is considered a ‘social justice’ issue. Again there are very few men taking the lead in media which are meant to appeal primarily to women. How many romance novels or movies are written from the perspective of the man? When will this “gap” be addressed? When will we see Disney Prince movies as opposed to Princesses etc. Calling this a ‘bullshit excuse’ is lazy thinking. Comics are a wide, wide field and SuperHEROics are a VERY narrow slice of it, that have historically appealed more to boys since that’s who they were written FOR just as war comics and wild west comics were. They were childhood fantasies of masculinity. It’s not sexism to have media that are written specifically for one gender or indeed ‘racism’ to have media that are designed to appeal to a particular ethnicity. Women have been poorly served in general by Entertainment media, no question and the roots of that lie in a more general societal gender imbalance, but focusing your Ire on a company like Marvel which as I see it are one of the ‘good guys’ when it comes to broadening their appeal and widening their demographics is a bit shortsighted. And again they are doing that because as you point out – more than half of moviegoers are female and they want that money.

          • Doodlee Pigvirus

            not to bust your balls, but your points are little archaic (media written for men? join us in the new millennium, where Romance novel storylines and Disney princesses aren’t the sole interests of females) and seem to originate from a place of privilege. you’ve always been pandered to in this area and can’t “for the life of you,” imagine why women would want to see themselves represented in this genre or even conceive of the idea that other men would throw their money at female-led projects. the paying audience for Marvel superheroes skewing slightly more male is an easy correlation to Marvel’s disregard for women, as one Captain Marvel out of 20 Captain Americas doesn’t make them the “good guys.” clearly, the bare minimum efforts are good enough for you and that’s fine, but please don’t assume that your apologist perspective is universal. there’s a diverse market for these projects, but the safe, old school methods that execs favor are going to remain in place unless a little hell is raised. let the people have their ire. you might be surprised at how things change for the better.

          • Roger Wilco

            Sorry but “Marvels disregard of women” seems about as urgent an issue as My little Ponys ‘disregard for men’ to me. Why are all the ponies female? oh because its INTENDED FOR GIRLS. But who cares? And why should they? Its a a sub genre of a sub genre. Incidentally of the two Marvel Characters on Netflix – their longer term project for the franchise, One is Jessica Jones and the other is Daredevil. And the paying audience for Marvel SUPERHEROS does not skew slightly more male, its about 8 to 2 male across all their properties. Superhero comics featuring female characters just don’t get anything like the same sales. Want more female superhero movies and comics? buy them and convince 10’s millions of other females to buy them too. Just don’t expect them to, anymore than you can expect to address the “gap” between men who buy gossip and fashion magazines and women who do. There’s a natural and unavoidable difference of interest in these things that all the pitchfork and torches internet mobs in the world will never change. Perhaps its because women don’t have the same inclination to fantasies about power, domination, violence and destruction which Marvel and DC are such successful purveyors of.

          • Roger Wilco

            Just to address one point, you claim I believe that “Romance novel storylines and Disney princesses are the sole interests of females”. I think you are being deliberately disingenuous. I cited these as examples where there are very few examples of male leads, as media not aimed at men, to illustrate the point that people are not up in arms about the gender disparity in these instances because its considered “natural”. I believe you know that this is the point I was making, but chose to deliberately misinterpret so as to make a rather weak and unsupported argument that MY arguments are worthless because I am “out of touch”.

          • Doodlee Pigvirus

            no offense, but your arguments ARE out of touch, weirdly angry and often deliberately off point. your who cares? shut up! agenda comes off as ugly to me, but i’d like to think that’s because of an oblivious fanboy worldview and not related to outright misogyny. in either case, i don’t think we have anything further to discuss.

  • Steve Sword

    She really needs to eat a sandwich.

  • Sabretruthtiger

    Strong female character YAWN. enough with this PC bullshit, they constantly feel the need to emphasise what a strong character women are. It makes them sound incredibly insecure.
    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  • Roger Wilco

    Karen is a “Strong Female Character”. Elektra is just a dangerous one.

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