In the superhero-TV timeline, it’s been a couple of months since Jessica Jones hooked up with the Defenders and a year since the events of the first season of her Netflix show, Marvel’s Jessica Jones.
And Jessica is as pissed off as ever, series star Krysten Ritter told Rotten Tomatoes recently.
The world watched as Jessica killed off her mind control–mutant stalker Kilgrave (David Tennant) at the end of season 1. In season 2, her notoriety regularly summons his ghost to continue her torment, as passersby call her “killer” and “superhero-vigilante.”
Jessica tries to drink the pain away, but her Kilgrave visions and her well-meaning adoptive sister, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), won’t let her forget her past. In season 2, Trish is on a quest to find out exactly why Jessica has super-strength and help her confront her simmering demons.
Ritter talked to us about where Jessica’s head is at, her comfy gear, and where this badass female superhero fits in the #MeToo controversy and Time’s Up movement.
RT: Welcome back to Jessica Jones! We last saw you in Marvel’s The Defenders in August. What’s the timeline between season 1 of Jessica Jones, what we saw in The Defenders, and this upcoming season?
Ritter: I think it’s about a year from the first season — I think. Honestly, I don’t know. I’m like, “My timeline?” I did season 1 and then I had a little break and then I did Defenders and then I did JJ 2. That’s my timeline…I think we’re just a couple months after The Defenders.
Jessica is still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in season 1 with her killing Kilgrave, our villain. I think she’s in a very dark head space. She’s dealing with some new popularity, and for someone who’s very introverted and keeps her social circle relatively small and is very isolated, having this newfound attention is very difficult for her. There’s no textbook to learn how to deal with that. But people know who she is, know what she look like from the fact that she killed this guy. She’s a superhero-vigilante now. The events in The Defenders, I imagine, don’t help that.
When we meet her, she is trying to like navigate her new life, which is: Is she a cold-blooded killer or did she do the right thing? So we meet her, and she is still so pissed off and she’s still drinking and just as much of an a–hole as ever — just the way we like her.
RT: How did it feel moving from filming The Defenders, an ensemble series, back to leading your own show?
Ritter: It really wasn’t that different because it’s all the same crew and same locations…The only difference was I then went back to working every single day, every minute and not having the boys around, which is a bummer because I love them.
Shooting The Defenders was really fun because the boys and I just had a blast, and we did bigger stunts…If you destroy a set, for example, the reset could take an hour and a half, so then we’re sitting around shooting the shit, having fun. And then on Jessica Jones, my butt never touches a chair. I am very busy. That obviously is a huge adjustment; however, since I was already used to getting up and putting on the boots and the jeans and the jacket and working with the same crew, it wasn’t that different. It was just basically like shooting for 12 months straight.
RT: You’ve got the absolutely best superhero costume.
Ritter: Yes. Yes, I do. I agree. It’s comfortable, it’s practical.
RT: If somebody asked you to put on spandex, would you be inclined or would you be like, “No”?
Ritter: I don’t think that’s Jessica Jones. I don’t think that that would be in the DNA of our show. I don’t see a world where that ever happens. But I love Jessica’s costume. I had a big hand in designing it and picking how she would look and what she would wear. It’s exciting now that a look that is so simple has become so easily identifiable as her, but it’s really something that really anybody has in their closet. I’m comfortable all the time. You hear superheroes talk about how difficult it is to go to the bathroom. I’m like, “I’m so glad I don’t have that problem.” I’m so glad I don’t have to do any of that. I literally am wearing dirty jeans and wearing flat boots.
RT: Do Jessica’s powers evolve at all this season? Do we see anything more that we hadn’t seen before?
Ritter: If I talked about it, we’d be giving something away. But I can say that our show is about the emotional drama first and the superhero powers are secondary. I can’t say that we’re doing this whole thing where her powers are explored at a deeper level — maybe that’s something we do down the line.
RT: Can you tell me a little bit about any evolution in Jessica’s relationships with some of the other characters that we’ve seen previously, like Trish, Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville)?
Ritter: Yeah. I think all of the relationships are explored in a deeper way. We’ve also expanded so those characters have good story lines of their own too. We’re not exclusively in Jessica’s head. Now we get to see more of Malcolm and Jessica together, what their dynamic is. We see more of Jessica and Trish together as they sort of navigate — there’s so many layers and complexities to their relationship. I think there’s some jealousy there, wanting what the other one has.
With Hogarth, I think that they are definitely adversaries and two very powerful characters, but there’s a mutual respect there and a connection, I think, that is deeper. We get in the deep in the connections between everybody, between those four characters for sure.
RT: Aside from the very comfortable costume, what is the most rewarding part now that you’re in season 2 of playing the character?
Ritter: Oh, god. This is like an embarrassment of riches. This role is so fantastic. The most rewarding part is getting to go really deep and challenge myself and have the level of material that I’m given constantly. It’s so rare that you have a role where you’re doing drama and get to be funny and have dry lines and then also do stunts and action sequences. There’s really nothing like it. I do an insane amount of prep work. I work with an acting coach in breaking down the episodes and building backstories.
It’s just the kind of material that you wish for your whole career. This is the good acting stuff that you want to do, in addition to then looking cool and shooting in New York. It’s just the best.
Additionally, now that the show’s been out and has a life, the show really resonates with people. The character really resonates with women all over the place, whether it’s other survivors of abuse or just women who are so excited to have a badass female character who isn’t like blonde and beautiful. I feel that on the street, so that’s very rewarding for me.
RT: Given what’s been going on with the #MeToo movement, do you think Jessica Jones is exactly the hero that women need right now?
Ritter: I do. I mean, it’s hard for me to link the two things only because we did the show before all of this started. The #MeToo movement and everything — the stuff that’s going on in Hollywood [started] happening, what, in October? We finished the show like October 1, so the show was already in the can. And when all of that started happening and the public outrage and everyone being so vocal, it was kind of uncanny.
It’s hard for me to link the two because they feel so separate. Jessica Jones is my acting job, but then being away from it, you’re like “Whoa. We’re talking about a lot of this stuff exactly that’s happening.” And here we have a character who’s like a mouthpiece for it. I think it’s just a crazy, crazy coincidence and also an exciting time, and so I’m proud of our show. I’m very proud of it. It makes me almost emotional when I think about this character — it’s so time.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones debuts on Netflix on Thursday, March 8.