Finn Jones on playing Marvel’s Iron Fist: He is no Bruce Wayne | Inquirer Entertainment

Finn Jones on playing Marvel’s Iron Fist: He is no Bruce Wayne

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:26 AM March 17, 2017

From left: Jessica Henwick, Finn Jones and Rosario Dawson

From left: Jessica Henwick, Finn Jones and Rosario Dawson

NEW YORK—It was hard to stop the fanboy in us from emerging when we met Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick last month, especially when they started talking oh-so-casually about the tent-pole screen projects they’ve acted in, among them “Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Finn and Jessica portray Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist) and Colleen Wing in Netflix’s latest superhero series “Marvel’s Iron Fist,” which begins streaming its first season today.


The 13-episode series follows the story of 10-year-old plane-crash survivor Danny, who finds himself in a monastery in K’un-Lun after his trip to the Himalayas with his parents ended in tragedy.


There, he learns about kung fu and Buddhist philosophy. Fifteen years later, he returns to New York and begins his “second lease on life”—as masked martial artist Iron Fist.

For Finn, Danny’s struggle to find his identity wasn’t hard to relate to, because they’re both orphans. But, he also had to go through a rigorous “physical transformation” that had him dabbling in kung fu, wushu, tai chi, weight training and meditation.

Asked what it felt like to hopscotch from an iconic film franchise to three of the coolest shows on the boob tube (including the coming adaptation of “The Defenders”), Jessica said she didn’t allow herself to get distracted by the buzz about her high-profile “gigs” and merely focused on the “kickass” characters she portrays.

Finn Jones in “Iron Fist”

Finn Jones in “Iron Fist”

“In ‘GoT,’ my character Nymeria Sands, one of the eight bastard daughters of Prince Oberyn Martell, comes from a mystical place called Dorne. She likes scorpions and uses an 8-foot-long bullwhip during combat,” she told the Inquirer. “In ‘Star Wars,’ I was an American resistance pilot. And in ‘Iron Fist,’ I play a New York-raised Japanese girl who runs her own martial arts dojo and refuses to be anyone’s love interest.”

Jessica acted with Filipino “Miss Saigon” pioneer Lourdes Faberes in last year’s short “The Heart of the Forest.” She also told us that she recently tasted—and loved—the exotic Pinoy “delicacy” balut (duck embryo), which was introduced to her by “Iron Fist’s” stunt coordinator, Brett Chan, who happens to be Filipino.

Finn, who portrays Renly Baratheon’s gay lover Loras Tyrell in “GoT,” attributes clinching his and Jessica’s enviable roles to luck—and a lot of hard work. “We were lucky to get cast in fervidly patronized characters. What I’ve learned from having been with ‘Thrones’ for six years is to not let the hype consume me.


“As an actor, you deal with what’s on the page of a script—the character and story you’re committed to—and everything surrounding it has nothing to do with you. Just be grateful that you’re in something everyone is talking about.”

Our Q&A with Finn and Jessica:

There’s something generic about superhero films. How different is “Iron Fist” from other superhero projects?
Finn (F): What sets him apart are the contradictions to his characters. He’s vulnerable, flawed, optimistic and naive. He’s a “child” wrought with trauma trying to be a grown man in a complicated world.

Danny is trying to be a spiritual warrior. He’s following a difficult path to become a better person and, in that pursuit, there are things within him that are holding him back. He’s constantly contradicting himself—which, as an actor, is super fun to play with.

How different is he from Batman, who’s also an orphan and a billionaire?
F: When you watch the show, you’ll see that Danny is nothing like Bruce Wayne. Yes, he’s also an orphan and a billionaire, and he’s got formidable fighting skills from years and years of training. But it’s in the nuances of his character that Danny and the superhero in him truly come alive.

Jessica, how significant is playing a kickass female character in this show?
Jessica (J): Portraying an Asian who’s skilled at martial arts isn’t the reason why I chose to do the show. I don’t want something that hews close to playing a kung fu-fighting, Asian-character stereotype. I recognize that element that existed within her history, but I am attracted to her issues with abandonment and her inability to communicate with others.

Jones is Danny Rand

Jones is Danny Rand

Colleen is a fighter who doesn’t know how to have a dialogue with someone, except with her fist. She gets an adrenaline rush just from punching guys and, for me, the ramifications of her actions are worth examining.

Women in Marvel movies aren’t depicted as damsels in distress… They’re “tough cookies” who can roll with the punches.
F: I’m telling you, “Iron Fist” is a feminist show. It has, in fact, five powerful female characters—Colleen, Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup), Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), Clair Temple (Rosario Dawson) and heroin trader Gao (Wai Ching Ho)—independent women who don’t need men to keep them safe. The men in the show are the ones who fail, so they lean on women for support.

J: Some people describe Colleen as the TV incarnation of Clint Eastwood (laughs). If anything, it’s Iron Fist who is the series’ “damsel in distress.”
More than anything, it isn’t about revising how stories are often told, it’s about evening the playing field. We’re not dealing with stereotypes.

OK, I know there’s a lot of secrecy surrounding the making of “Iron Fist” and how it leads to the creation of “The Defenders,” Marvel Cinematic Universe’s anticipated superhero group that also includes Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Luke Cage (Mike Colter). But you can’t make me fly back to Manila without telling me anything about Sigourney Weaver, who’s playing one of The Defenders’ nastiest enemies à la Wilson Fisk…
J: You want to talk about strong female characters? Sigourney paved the way for women in that regard. She’s one of the reference points that I look at when I portray women who can kick ass. You watch Sigourney’s work (“Alien”) and you go, “That’s how you do it!”
F: I was working with her this morning, for “The Defenders.” She’s going to be one of the show’s big baddies, that’s for sure. You just look at her, and you get intimidated.

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But in reality, she’s kind, fun and incredibly generous as an actor. She’s just an ordinary New Yorker. But you have to watch the show to see how she transforms into The Defenders’ formidable foe, who is as sophisticated and intelligent as she is dangerous!

TAGS: Bruce Wayne, Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Marvel’s Iron Fist

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