Krysten Ritter on her role in Marvel’s Jessica Jones season 3 and more
Krysten Ritter has played the titular character on Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix for four years now. She believes she truly knows the character inside and out. The take-no-guff Jessica isn’t your regular superhero. She trades the spandex and superhero swagger for leather jackets and ripped jeans, dishing out punches and punch lines like a pro. We were invited to visit the Jessica Jones set in New York City to take a look behind-the-scenes and chat with the cast about the final season.
We chatted with Krysten about the evolution of Jessica Jones, directing her first episode on the series and what fans can expect in season 3. ~Marriska Fernandes
Can you talk a bit about season 3?
In season 1 and 2 we learned so much about Jessica’s history, what she’s been through and how her family died — that informed who she is, why she is so hard, why she has problems with alcohol and PTSD. At the end of season 2 when her mother was killed, the last thing she said to her was, “You do give a shit.” So she’s trying to figure out if she actually cares, if she can actually show up and be the hero she’s destined to be. I think Jessica is now figuring out her place in the world and what it means to be a hero. She is coming to the terms that many are called and a few are chosen, and she has been chosen and because of that she has to rise to the occasion. I think that’s a cool thing.
We just saw the filming of a scene in which she’s doing a TV interview. Does that mean she’ll be in the spotlight?
In this scene, Jessica does do something public to help somebody else so for the greater good, so she sucks it up and goes on camera and for Jessica, that’s like getting a root canal (laughs). She’s a recognizable famous person in the superhero universe, but we’re not playing with her being more famous or anything.
What’s the relationship with Trish like?
Things are a little bit f**ked up between Trish and Jessica at the end of season 2. We play a little bit with some non-linear storytelling.
You directed an episode this season. What was that experience like?
It’s the most exciting thing that has ever happened. We had the best time. Nobody knows the show better than I do and knows the characters. I know Jessica very well. I was begging Melissa [Rosenberg] to direct for about a year and a half. I would show up with new lists of other actors who were number one on the call sheet and had directed their own shows. It’s a huge undertaking. It’s a lot of work when you’re number one on the call sheet and you want to direct. Finally Melissa convinced Marvel to let me do it. I was thrilled and brought my A-game.
It was like a big celebration on set. I loved it. My episode turned out great apparently — the episode to beat so far for the season (laughs). I can’t talk about the story line. If I could, I would definitely give you more insight as to what I was able to do. But, I know the world of the show and what works and what doesn’t, what Mel likes and what she doesn’t like and also my own taste. I also know the actors better than anybody. These are my friends, I know how great they are and their range.
Did you pick the brains of the other directors on the series? What’s the best advice you got from them?
Well, I’m here every day. So I’m like a sponge; I see all the directors come in and their styles, what works and what’s really efficient. I was able to get this great on-the-job training. It’s sort of my free film school. We had so many amazing directors come in from the beginning with S.J. Clarkson, and in season 2 as well, a string of amazing directors that have all become buddies of mine. So everyone was willing to get on the phone with me and kind of talk though what the experience was like before you get on set, what the politics are behind the scenes, what you have to go through and the hoops you jump through. I was able to get everyone’s opinions and do my own thing with it.
Given Jessica’s relationship in season two, do you think she is in a vulnerable position and how does Jessica handle being vulnerable?
I think we saw her very vulnerable in season two. Now we’re seeing her try to move forward. We’re seeing her pick up the pieces a little bit more. I think she’s more vulnerable than when we’ve seen her in the past.
Trauma is something we’ve seen a lot of on the news in the last couple of months. Jessica’s been dealing with that from the beginning of the series. Can you talk about that and your relationship towards it?
I haven’t felt a direct relationship to what’s going on in the show per se, but I think everyone kind of feels, when we watch it, that it’s all deeply upsetting and everybody feels triggered by what’s going on. The themes on our show in the past have overlapped with what’s going on in the news a lot and I think that’s because these are real things. But I don’t think now anything’s lined up with that in a real way.
Do you think Jessica resents her super powers and is finally starting to accept them?
Yes, I think that’s the overarching theme of the show. She does resent them because of how she got them.
How much do you feel you understand the character now, when compared to episode one?
What’s interesting about playing a character for this long is that a lot of times when you’re acting you have to write your own history, do all of the backstory, build it for yourself, and now it’s like I have lived a lot of this stuff. So now I know the character very well and she becomes a part of you in a way, which is cool. I never thought of that before because this the first time I’ve played a character for four years. I have a lot of pride in the way we portray her and a great sense of ownership.
How similar are you to the hard-drinking, take-no-guff Jessica Jones?
Nothing like her at all. I’m so not like Jessica Jones at all. She’s way cooler than I am.
What quality of hers do you wish you had?
I guess the super strength. That would come in handy.
Since you mentioned you don’t drink bourbon as Jessica does on the show, what’s your poison?
I guess I’m a bit of a workaholic. I don’t stop. I have an addiction to accomplishments. That’s my thing. I’m like, “Let’s do this, let’s do this.” I have a lot going on.