Krysten Ritter has played some tough characters, on shows from “Breaking Bad” to “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.” But then came the greatest challenge of her career: The title role of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones.”
The responsibility of taking on such a kick-ass heroine motivated Ritter to commit fully to Netflix’s super-powered private eye, she told IndieWire: “I put a lot of pressure on myself to do this character justice. I just thought she was so special and so rough around the edges and so human, and flawed and complex. When you get an opportunity like that, you’re going to make sure you deliver.”
That meant tackling the challenge of stunt choreography — something she said she’d never really done before. “When I first saw the choreography all in front of me, it was so overwhelming. But then you get in there and start tackling things a couple of moves at a time, and you get the hang of it. Once I got in there, it was exhilarating. There is a lot of adrenaline in there. It’s a whole other stage to explore as an actor. It was impossible to ever feel prepared or bored.”
(She also may or may not have said that she occasionally punched people “for real.”)
But the real challenge came with staying in the character’s skin not just during the action scenes, but the emotional challenges of playing a woman struggling with some deep-seated PTSD. And for that, Ritter credits showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, who had been developing the series for years before the actress came on board. And yes, it matters that she’s a woman.
Below, Ritter explains how much she’s valued working with female showrunners like Rosenberg and anarchic comedy “Don’t Trust The B’s” Nahnatchka Khan, as well as why she’s looking forward to teaming up with Netflix’s other Marvel superheroes for the upcoming series “The Defenders.”
As an actress, finding a strong unique role — that doesn’t happen everyday.
I’m so weird. I’m not right for everything. So this is the coolest thing that has come my way. After “Don’t Trust The B in Apartment 23,” the bar was so high, because I love [her character, Chloe] so much. I love how much a force of naughtiness she was. I wanted to find something that was equally special and epic, but totally different. It was a pretty narrow window. And also there not being a lot of amazing roles like that.
Between “Don’t Trust the B” and “Jessica Jones,” you’ve got to work with two notable female showrunners. How is that experience, in comparison with working with a male showrunner?
I love working with women because I’ve always been a girl’s girl. I’ve always gravitated towards amazing, strong, powerful women because I want to pick their brain and have them around me. I like to be vulnerable and be raw, and I just feel more comfortable in those conversations with women. I’m especially glad “Jessica” has a female showrunner. She’s not informed by gender. And Melissa has such integrity about the character and being a woman. It could have gone either way.
Yeah — there is a version of “Jessica Jones” which could have existed, that could have easily sucked, with a different showrunner.
Mel’s been working on the source material for so long — she developed it a few years ago with ABC and has just been wanting to bring the story to life for a long time. That’s how you get the best results. Ideas that have been marinating for a long time and have time to take a life of their own.
The cool thing about Netflix is the amount of time you get for character development. We don’t have to do commercial breaks or recaps because it’s designed as a 13-hour movie. It’s not always moving plot forward. Watching the pilot, we were not telling you what was going on. It relied on me to let the audience in and know what’s going on from my reactions and what Jessica is going through. It was so subtle, that it built up tension as well. That’s an exciting thing about working in longform.
Are you looking forward to the team-up aspect of “The Defenders”?
I’m very much looking forward to “The Defenders,” also because all of these shows they are doing are so unique. It will be interesting to see how they come together. Jessica is an anti-superhero so I don’t know what that means for her. They have proven themselves over and over that they will blow people’s minds and make shit work, so I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be a big giant fucking rad show.
And the best thing is that unlike the other characters, you will never have to wear Jessica’s original suit.
Yeah, that’s in the past — I can’t imagine she’s going to put that thing back on. Jessica’s real costume to me is her boots and leather jacket. She’s way too cool for that.
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