As I write this, I can feel the silver "Jessica Jones"-sized hole being burned in lining of my Netflix queue. The show is just sitting there, waiting for me to consume it in all its glory. "Jessica Jones" is the second in four live-action Netflix series featuring superheroes that will culminate in a "Defenders" mini-series. With this show, there's a lot to look forward to. It's the first Marvel superhero to get her own TV show or movie (since Agent Carter isn't a superhero), and it comes on the heels of the hugely successful "Daredevil." Needless to say, we're expecting to see a similar success in "Jessica Jones."
Based on the comic book series "Alias," written by Michael Bendis, "Jessica Jones" follows a mentally scarred super-powered private detective.
In a recent interview with Variety, actress Krysten Ritter, who plays Jessica Jones in the series, talked a bit about what drew her into the role.
"She’s such an original, sort of obscure, misfit character in the Marvel universe and I love how grounded the show is and how deeply complex and developed she is. I feel like it’s such a rare opportunity to get a role like this. It’s a part that you find in some weird, dark, obscure independent movie that nobody will ever see, and fact that I get that opportunity on a Netflix platform, with the Marvel logo… it’s completely insane. When I first read the script — I read the first few before I got the part — I walked out of there and felt like they were the best scripts I had read and the best part that I had ever seen, available to me or not. A tough female character like this doesn’t come around every day."
As far as the actual acquiring of the role...that was no accident. In the years leading up to "Jessica Jones," Netflix had begun to establish itself as a network with impeccable taste in television shows. As such, Krysten Ritter had taken a liking to them, and proceeded to actively pursue a series for Netflix.
"When I first heard about the show, my manager called and said 'Netflix' — I’d really wished to be on a Netflix show because I love the content that they’re putting out and I think their shows are really top quality, and those are the shows that I watch. I love 'House of Cards,' I love 'Bloodline,' I love 'Orange is the New Black,' so I had written on my refrigerator that I was looking for 'groundbreaking television on Netflix.' That’s what I wanted to do, so when my manager called like, 'Okay, so Netflix wants to see you for this superhero show,' and I like to audition so I was like, 'Great! I’m never going to get that, but I’m happy just to go.' My mind never went to the place where 'Jessica Jones' lives. I just assumed 'superhero — that’s not what I look like, I’ll never get that.' They were parsing out information, [all] secretive, as Marvel is, and I started reading scenes and I was like, 'This is really cool. Is this real? Is this really this dark and this dramatic and this character-driven?'"
To top it all off, the showrunners were looking for an actress who could be funny. Seeing this as a match made in heaven, Ritter went on to actively prove her chops and work ethic during the extensive screen tests.
"I just loved how it was an opportunity for me to do drama, and comedy, and action sequences, but the real thing that really got me was when they said they needed someone that could be funny. I’m like, 'Come on.' So I just worked my ass off. I wanted to prove to them and bring a work ethic to it that I didn’t think anybody else in the whole world would ever bring. So everyday was like, 'Okay,' proving that they choose the right girl."
Marvel has a long list of awesome female superheroes. One trait that many of them retain on their way to TV or movies, however, is their over-sexualization. I love Black Widow as much as the next guy, but her sexuality definitely plays a huge part in how the character is portrayed. Jessica Jones is a bit different in the TV series in that she isn't over-sexualized in the way many female superhero characters are.
"I love she’s never using her figure, her sexuality to get what she wants, which you may see in a typical P.I. tropes. All of that. She’s such an original. I’ve never seen anything like it. When we were doing the show, before I got to see anything, I was always bugging Melissa and one of our other head writers, Scott Reynolds, like, 'Tell me about show. What’s it like? What would you compare it to?' they’re like, 'Nothing. It’s like nothing on television,' and I thought that was total bulls— because it sounds like a weird thing to say, but then when I saw it, I was like, 'Holy s—. There’s nothing like it on television.' It’s a real thrill."
One of the bigger questions regarding the series comes in the form of Jessica Jones' past. I won't spoil it for those who are unfamiliar, but her past is definitely one that could be difficult to tackle on-screen, in that it involves sensitive subjects like rape and sexual assault. Issues like that can make or break a TV show or movie, and for Ritter, it seemed to be one of the many reasons she wanted to sign on.
"I felt like it was really important; I feel like it’s a show that’s so meaty and matters. I was also talking to somebody about the lack of f—ing rad roles for women, and this is one of the only parts that I’ve seen where I don’t have to get naked … there is the history of assault, yes, but we don’t depict it. It’s not literally on your screen. We’re dealing with the aftermath and the emotional struggles and how that affects her, but it’s rare. I don’t really enjoy doing things like that — I don’t like sex scenes. I don’t like stuff like that and a lot of times, it’s cool rad character, 'oh, but you have to get naked,' or 'oh, but you’re going to do this terrible sex scene that makes you really uncomfortable' or a rape scene. And the only part that I really think of in the past, I don’t know, six years, that was an amazing female [lead] role that didn’t have to do all of those things is 'Zero Dark Thirty,' and now Jessica Jones, and that’s a huge thing to say, but that’s how I feel."
Finally, I'm sure many of you are wondering about what Ritter knows regarding the eventual "Defenders" mini-series.
"I have no idea. They don’t really tell me much, but I really looking forward to the Defenders because it will be Mike, and I, and Charlie and I don’t who’s playing the other guy yet, but that’ll be fun. 'Daredevil’s' a great show, I feel like 'Jessica Jones' is a great show and I feel like they really are tapping into something. It’s also nice to know what you’re going to be doing — as an actress, that’s rare. [Laughs.] So yeah, I kind of won the lottery in terms of parts because it’s so rare to have a show, even more rare to have two shows that’re picked up on Netflix and it’s a great part that I love. It’s all good."
As with most actors, Ritter is being kept in the dark. As much as we love to believe they have a huge master plan over at Marvel, the fact is they have an idea, and are making up the intricate parts as they go along. Either way, they've been doing a bang-up job doing it so far, so we'll just have to wait and see.
Have you had a chance to check out "Jessica Jones" yet? If so, what have you thought? Please let us know in the comments down below, but be considerate of other readers and avoid spoilers.