“IF you get in my way, I’m going to kill you.”
These are the words spoken by French actress Elodie Yung, in character as Elektra in the latest trailer for Netflix/Marvel’s second season of “Daredevil,” which begins streaming Friday.
That dialogue is meant as a warning from Elektra to Daredevil (Charlie Cox) that things are about to get intense for them, even more so than their nightly vigilante adventures that the new season provides.
The trailer, though, includes other words from Elektra — such as: “I fear…the path you have chosen…isn’t going to be an easy one” — that could readily describe Yung’s six-stage audition process to win the role, one of the most recognizable figures in Daredevil’s comic book inspired world, and one of Daredevil alter ego Matt Murdock’s great loves.
“It was crazy. I didn’t even know what I was auditioning for, because Marvel is very secretive. They didn’t say which project it was. They didn’t release the character’s name. They didn’t even give me a lot of details about the character,” Yung told The Post’s Comic Riffs. “So I auditioned and auditioned and auditioned and carried on auditioning and tested with Charlie [Cox] and eventually they offered me the part.”
Yung’s years of martial-arts training no doubt helped. Elektra is a master of hand-to-hand combat who’s at least the equal of Daredevil, let alone most any ninja who comes her way.
Yung said she grew up in a somewhat “rough” suburb in Paris, and at age 9, her father enrolled her in karate classes. She was a dedicated student for 10 years, becoming a black belt.
“I really enjoyed [karate] at the time. And when I went to [college], I stopped,” the 35-year-old actress recounted. “Since that time, I’ve been quite lazy, unless I book a job and then it requires me to get back on track and train. But having this under my belt, it really helped on this show.”
Yung applauds the 13 hours of storytelling that a Netflix season can provide, allowing for deeper character development than a two-hour movie typically can. “Daredevil” producers Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez have said that the addition of such characters as Elektra and the Punisher this season might not have been possible in a movie.
Plus, creating 13 one-hour chapters results in a quick shooting pace. Yung said that she’d film a “Daredevil” episode over 10 days, and then it was “on to the next one.” And having to learn stunts quickly again put her martial-arts training to the test.
“You don’t really have the time to prepare before the shooting. It’s not like a movie, where you can train a month in advance,” Yung said. “You jump in your suit and do the moves and you just learn everything on the day — literally. That was really new to me, and I thought it was a bit crazy. But thankfully, we were surrounded by very professional people.
“You have to be a quick learner.”
In preparing for the role, Yung decided against watching any previous adaptations, including the 2005 “Elektra” movie by Jennifer Garner; instead, she turned to the creative source material.
“I needed to go to the source and really try to figure out what Frank Miller created,” Yung said, referring to the legendary writer-artist who dreamed up Elektra. “What [Miller] saw in Elektra, I tried to capture. I wanted to be respectful of that. We took [Elektra] on another level because it’s a series, and the writers had their own input in the way they saw the character, so it’s a bit different.”
In the new season, Elektra, an ex-girlfriend from Daredevil’s school days, returns into his life just as he’s finally found a sliver of romance with his legal assistant, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). The former lovers had an unconventional breakup, but when Elektra lets Matt know that she’s in need of his vigilante abilities — despite his still holding animosity towards her — the devil can’t say no.
Matt is drawn to Elektra, Yung said, “because he kind of sees something in her that he probably has in him. I think that’s the dynamic of their relationship really. Elektra comes and says: ‘I know you, Matthew. I know you have this darkness in you.’ And he probably knows it, as well, and sees the darkness in Elektra.
“She’s not a good girl. She’s quite naughty. She likes to do whatever she wants to do, and she likes to break the limits, and he sees that in her,” Young continued. “So I think it implies that she [sees darkness] in him, and he’s seduced by that. It’s quite attractive to him.”
And the moments when Yung’s Elektra and Cox’s Daredevil mask their identities and fight side by side provided “a completely different energy,” the actress said, as opposed to the scenes they filmed unmasked.
Matt “puts on the suit and he is Daredevil. He’s the hero. His energy changes,” Yung said. “Most of the time, there’s an urgency in these scenes, and there’s a lot of action, and we fight. So that aspect is different, and it has an impact on how Charlie is in his suit.”
“When he’s Matthew to Elektra, it’s a completely different character, and then he puts on this suit and he has a different aura,” she continued. “He’s a vigilante, and he wants to take care of his city and the people, even if he has to use violence.”
Part of Yung’s transformation into Elektra required the use of the sai, a trademark weapon of Elektra’s that no live-action adaptation could be without. Despite her years of martial arts, Yung had never picked up a pair of the blades. She had to become a quick study.
“I don’t carry sai blades for the sake of it in my personal life,” Yung said laughing.
“I had to learn how to manipulate the sais. It was very tricky, because it’s a weird shape,” Yung said. “It’s like a big fork. There’s a lot of ways that you can use them, but it’s not like a sword. You can’t really slash people with it. It’s more like stabbing.
“It wasn’t like the rest of the choreography, when you have to throw a punch and a kick, and I [say to myself]: I can handle this. I asked them really to train, so we made time for me to rehearse and get familiar with the sais. I had the sais at home — the plastic ones — and I would just practice in my apartment. It’s like anything: You put the effort in it and the repetition, and it looks good. It worked in the end.”
Beyond the physical skills, Yung had to be able to execute her stunts comfortably and practically while wearing Elektra’s classic suit.
“We had to tweak a few things for me to be able to run and fight and kick and punch and roll and jump,” Yung said. “So it’s very collaborative with the designers, and the people from Marvel to make [the look] work.”
And, of course, the performance is all about delivering the emotion. Yung said that the complexity of the relationship between Daredevil and Elektra stems from one major component: first love.
“It’s a bit of a love and hate relationship,” Yung said. “A first love is something that lasts forever in your heart. It’s something that marks you.
“Matthew and Elektra, both of them want to put [what they feel] back, but she comes back in his life — and the flame and the history they had between them will come back to life again.”