Danny Rand, The Immortal Iron Fist, is known primarily as a martial arts character who faces against other martial artists. But when Danny comes back from his long sojourn from Ku’Lun to New York, he might have some foes that he can’t simply punch and kick his way through. After the death of his parents, their business partner, Harold Meachum took over the Rand Corporation. And he, along with his adult children, Ward and Joy, aren’t going to want to fork over their empire to the newly arrived heir, Danny. Portraying the Meachum family are David Wenham (Harold), Tom Pelphrey (Ward) and Jessica Stroup (Joy). Speaking to the good folks at Comic Book Resources during the New York Comic-Con, the actors dished about their roles, their relationship with Danny and their interesting family dynamic.
“I play Harold Meachum. I play Ward’s father, Harold,” Wenham explained. “Harold was a business partner with Danny Rand’s father. They have a corporation called Rand. He’s a very wealthy, powerful individual, so that was fun to play, ’cause I’m not.”
“In terms of the family dynamic, I think it’s fine to say that the relationship between the three of them — Harold, Ward, and Joy — is complex, to say the least. It’s multilayered, it’s multidimensional, it’s surprising and it’s forever changing, depending on the circumstances. It’s forever evolving. And, you know, it’s a strange relationship.”
This is a different family dynamic than the one from the comic. In the source, material Ward was actually Harold’s brother instead of his son. In the show, Ward will also be Danny Rand’s childhood friend, along with his sister Joy.
“Ward is a character in the comic books, but I can’t say too much. I would say that we’re not necessarily beholden to representing him exactly as he appears in the comic book. But it’s been a lot of fun! Really dynamic material with a lot of good stuff to explore. Good partners. [Executive producer] Scott Buck did a great job staffing the writer’s room and getting us good scripts.”
And while there have already been three other Marvel Netflix series, the cast hopes that Iron Fist will be able to offer fans something new and exciting. As was discussed in an earlier MCU Exchange article, the show will focus on the 1% and Manhattan’s elite society and the Meachum’s will most definitely represent this faction. Besides the high-flying world of the wealthy, Iron Fist brings martial arts and mysticism to the MCU.
Wenham hopes the show will surprise Marvel Netflix fans. “‘Iron Fist’ has an opportunity to differentiate itself from the other three [Marvel Netflix shows],” he said, “Just to show a different facet from the other three stories… The combination of the martial arts and the mystical element in this one, I think, sort of sets it apart from the others as well. So each one of them is slightly different and I think that’s what will probably interest fans, these things that differentiate it from the others.”
With the pedigree of the other shows in their catalog in mind, Marvel can afford to get a little different with this offering. They’ve built a great brand and becoming a part of a Marvel project has become a well sought after goal of many of Hollywood’s top talent. Particularly for the Netflix shows because of the length of time the shows are given to explore and develop their characters. The three actors portraying the Meachum family spoke about how they came to the project and how they embraced the crazy ride that is getting onto a Marvel project.
“Personally, I finished up a show — ‘The Following’ — on Fox, and — when pilot season came around — I just was putting it out there that I wanted to get on a different platform,” Stroup recalled. “I wanted to work on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon, but my main goal was Netflix. My team knew that and they were sort of funneling scripts and things to me and I saw this.”
“I was in Sweden and I got a phone call from Jeph Loeb, asking me if I’d like to be involved in this particular project, and it was about a half-an-hour conversation where Jeph basically talked about the world of Marvel — the Marvel Universe — and then the story of Iron Fist, which I wasn’t familiar with at the time,” Wenham shared. “He said, ‘Would you like to be involved?’ He couldn’t tell me exactly what my character did. He said, ‘But trust me, you’ll have an amazing time.’ And so then I agreed and I flew from Sweden back to Australia, packed a bag and the flew out to New York and began an adventure not even knowing what I was diving into because the world of Marvel is more secret than Donald Trump’s tax returns. You just have to trust them!”
“I got some sides that were sort of non-descript and I didn’t even know what project they were attached to,” Pelphrey said. “I sent in a tape, went good and went in to test for the part, at which point I got to read the first two scripts for the show, and — as I was sitting in some back closet on Marvel’s LA lot, after I had surrendered all of my personal belongings and signed away my life — in walked Jeph Loeb before I was about to read the script and I got to meet him and he told me about the story and kind of pitched me the character. It was very exciting! And then, you know, got the job and here we are.”
“I loved comic books as a kid; I guess most kids do,” he added. “It’s been impressive to see what Marvel’s done with Netflix. I remember when ‘Daredevil’ first came out and the buzz around that, and then watching the show later when I got this job. It’s just impressive, you know? It’s also nice to see that you can make a comic book type show that isn’t necessarily just for kids, kind of like what ‘Deadpool’ did with the movies, these Marvel Netflix shows are doing for television. There are those of us that are older who appreciate that because there are a lot of fans obviously that aren’t just the younger generation.”
It’s true now more than ever. The superhero multi-media landscape is more varied than ever before. Characters are allowed to be deep and complex, exploring weighty and complicated relationships and scenarios way above the more popcorn entertainment that used to be part and parcel of the genre for so long. When Iron Fist premieres on March 17th of 2017, we’ll see the human weapon go toe to toe with all kinds of foes, but perhaps the most difficult obstacle to get around might be his childhood friends and the man who’s taken his parents’ company. Whatever the challenge, it’s sure to be entertaining and I can’t wait to see the world of Iron Fist.