Every superhero has to have his nemesis, and Marvel’s “Daredevil” show on Netflix is no exception. Facing off against Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock is Wilson Fisk, or the Kingpin, as he’s also known. As played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Fisk is a man of refined tastes, whose methods may differ from Murdoch’s, but who ultimately seems to want the same thing: a better neighborhood. D’Onofrio is a veteran of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and has some experience playing bad guys. You might remember him from his enjoyably creepy turn as the bug villain in the original “Men in Black.” We talked to him about moving to Netflix and who the real villain is here.
How does this show feel different from your experience with network television on "Law and Order"?
I don’t think of it as series television. It’s completely different. And I knew that. It’s funny because it’s not that long ago, but you look back on that and it seems prehistoric, that whole approach. Network television is a monster. It’s an absolute monster. You can do good stuff. We did good stuff for a few years on that show, but the work becomes so much a part of the stamina you need to do it that it becomes what you need overall to survive that. Whereas when you do something like this, it’s all creative.
Were you very aware of Fisk before you started working on the show?
I knew of Wilson Fisk from Spiderman. I knew Daredevil’s origin story, but I was never an avid reader of “Daredevil.” I’d never associated Wilson Fisk with Daredevil until recently. When I started to do all my homework and read up on the rebooted series and the new series of Daredevil, he was such an important character.
He’s kind of an unusual villain, in that we get to see him have a life outside of his criminal career.
And how interesting is that? You get to play this complicated character who’s not black and white, who is falling in love with the woman who’s going to be the woman in his life for the rest of his life, and at the same time, he’s dealing with all this other stuff that he believes in.
Your character is referenced repeatedly by other characters before he ever shows up onscreen. Is it fun for you to come in knowing the audience already has some expectations?
It’s happened to me in a couple movies before. I call it the Harry Lime syndrome. It’s the best way to start your character in the film, is that everybody talks about you for a full act before you appear. That’s the great thing about some character acting roles. In “The Third Man,” that’s exactly what happens. Harry Lime is not introduced until you know exactly what everybody’s opinion is of him. And Fisk is much like that.
What’s the most important thing to know about Fisk?
Fisk is honest. He’s true to himself. And he has a vision for the city. He wants to make Hell’s Kitchen a better place, and New York a better place to live in. He’s very introverted and lonely. And the Fisk in our story, you get to see that, and you get to see him evolve. To me, he’s like this evolving, emotional creature. And you get to watch a lot of that go on in our series.
So he’s got similar goals to Daredevil, but he goes about it in a different way.
I think in a better way than Daredevil does.
Wilson Fisk: a better hero than Matt Murdoch?
I think he’s the one that everybody should believe in.