Krysten Ritter on ‘Jessica Jones’ Season 2, Going to Dark Places, and the Show’s Female Directors
From executive producer/showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, Marvel’s Jessica Jones is back for Season 2 (available to stream on Netflix on March 8th), forcing the reluctant superhero to confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past to explore the reasons why. Being known throughout the city as a super-powered killer is torture for Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), who just wants to be left alone with her anger and a stiff drink, rather than being drawn into other people’s problems or forced to confront her own. But in order to survive an immediate and deadly threat, Jessica must step out of the shadows and look into the secrets of her past, in order to move forward.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Krysten Ritter (who is just so perfect in the role of Jessica Jones) talked about how hard it is to live in Jessica’s dark headspace, how it changed the on-set conversation to have all 13 episodes of Season 2 directed by women, the evolving dynamic between Jessica and Malcolm (Eka Darville), that Jessica and Trish (Rachael Taylor) are the true core of the story, what Janet McTeer ads to this season, what she most enjoys about the partnership she has with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, and what she’s most excited for, with Season 2.
Check out the full interview below and click here for Allison’s review of the new season.
Collider: The first episode back is SO dark for Jessica. How hard is it for you to enter that headspace, and how hard is it for you to get out of it?
KRYSTEN RITTER: I’ve gotten a lot better at that, in Season 2. The more you use that muscle, the better you get at it. I feel like I am able to find a balance and am able to bounce back. I also make sure to do nice things for myself and go out with the crew. I realized that I like to laugh a lot and have fun, so I make sure to find those moments and have balance. In Season 1, I got really depressed and wasn’t able to shake it off like that. Now, I feel like I was able to be a little bit more disciplined, in that way. But yeah, Jessica is in a really dark headspace and you have to take good care of yourself, mind and body to stay in that level of darkness for six months.
Jessica comments that, “It takes a monster to stop a monster.” If that is the case, just how dark of a place will she be at, by the end of this season?
RITTER: Oh, boy! Oh, my god! It does get pretty dark! I won’t give anything away, but yeah.
How did it feel to have all 13 episodes being directed by women, for Season 2?
RITTER: It was really great. Our show is already so female. Season 1 was so female. It’s already in our DNA. But having all women this season was exciting because it’s never been done before, which is stupid. The content that we cover and the dark subject matter and the sexual stuff, to be honest, having those conversations with a woman is a lot easier for me. I feel much more at ease and safe, and able to be vulnerable and raw, when you’re planning this stuff out with a woman. It just takes something away from a conversation, when you can’t be really real and raw. I love it! Within the industry now, there’s a lot of mandates to hire women and for diversity, which is amazing because that wasn’t there ten years ago. They went into this season with an eye to hire as many women as possible and to represent diversity, and then they started interviewing people and wound up with more than half, and then more than three-quarters, and then decided to do it all. Those women ended up being the best people for the job. I can’t wait for it to be totally commonplace and not that crazy.
I especially love the dynamic between Jessica and Malcolm this season. There’s something so fun about watching that push and pull between the two of you. What does Malcolm mean to Jessica, that she would never verbally express to him, and how much fun has that been to play, between you and Eka Darville?
RITTER: Thank you so much for saying that! I feel the same way about my working relationship with Eka. I think that our dynamic is similar. He’s a young guy, he’s so beautiful, he’s so sweet, and he’s so hard-working that I have an affinity for him that translates to the screen. I think that Jessica has an affinity for Malcolm, in the way that you would for a little brother, even though he’s a pain in the ass, most of the time. I really enjoyed the development of that relationship, this season, and I enjoyed my scenes with Eka. I just think that he’s really growing into the part and owning it. They gave him great material this season, and I’m proud of him. It’s exciting when she gives him just a tiny bit because it’s so rewarding. You’re like, “Finally, a win for Malcolm!”
I also love how things are shifting between Jessica and Trish, this season, with Trish taking some risks that she probably shouldn’t be taking. With as much as Jessica and Trish both try to protect each other, how will that affect their friendship?
RITTER: We’re exploring this whole other layer to the relationship, with some jealousy there. Because she wants what Jessica has, her resentment towards Jessica for having such contempt for her abilities is leading to a different kind of relationship between Jessica and Trish. But at the end of the day, that’s the core relationship of our show and the heart of our show, so we’ll be developing that, as it goes, as well.
How does Jessica feel about being known now as someone who is super-powered?
RITTER: Her frustration with that is another component and layer to her anger. She doesn’t want anybody to know who she is, let alone now know her face, know her name, and know her as a superhero vigilante. That’s the opposite of what she wants. So, she’s navigating that newfound popularity and there is no textbook on how to deal with that. That’s something we’re exploring.
Janet McTeer is a great addition to the show. There’s something so interesting about her character because every time you think you might understand what’s happening, it goes another direction. What do you feel she added to the season, and how was it to work with her?
RITTER: Oh, my god, it’s heaven! I love her! I absolutely worship her! She is so fierce and so smart. She’s one of the most exciting actresses I’ve ever worked opposite. Sometimes she’s super adorable and I’d ask myself, “Am I in love with Janet McTeer?” We had a great time together. We needed a heavyweight actor, after David Tennant in Season 1, and she is that, let me tell you.
It’s always fun to see Jessica try to relate to a normal person, like with her super, because she clearly doesn’t know how to deal with normalcy. Even though they have a physical attraction, is it that sense of normalcy that scares her with him?
RITTER: Oh, for sure! It’s weird, for her, that he doesn’t respond to her, in the way that she’s used to, or that he’s more interested in her than he should be, as far as she’s concerned. That’s an interesting dynamic and they end up helping each other, in ways. It ends up being not what you think it’s gonna be, but that’s exciting.
The path that Jessica is on now is one that’s forcing her, however reluctantly, to confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past. How changed will she be, by the end of this season, as a result of what she finds out?
RITTER: I think that she will deal with how isolated she is and what to do next. She is very reluctantly looking into herself, nudged by Trish. Jessica doesn’t really want to do anything. She doesn’t want to participate in life. She wants to drink and barely get by. But at the end of the day, when other people are in danger, she does show up. That is what we love about Jessica, and that’s what she’s doing here. She’s reluctantly showing up because she has to.
Are you signed on yet for Season 3 of Jessica Jones and/or Season 2 of The Defenders yet, or is that still up in the air?
RITTER: I can’t answer that question. But, good try!
What have you most enjoyed about the collaborative relationship and partnership that you’ve established with your showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg, throughout this whole process?
RITTER: It’s 100% a partnership. I always say that we’re the co-owners of Jessica, and that she’s half Mel and half me. I think we compliment each other very well. We have a very rare relationship. I look to her as my collaborator, my mentor and my friend, and vice versa. I’m her muse. She writes things that she feels strongly about, and we push each other to go deeper. She’ll write an amazing scene for me, and in her writing, I’ll think of a million ideas and we’ll always find ways to go deeper. Our relationship is very collaborative and very much a partnership. It’s cool. It’s a relationship. You can be with 20 people, but when you find the right one, it’s on fire. I feel like Mel and I just have that thing where it’s on fire.
What most surprised you about the response to Season 1, and what are you most excited about, with people getting to see with Season 2?
RITTER: I know that I’m excited for them to see Jessica again. I like the show. I like the character. I like what she represents. I’ve loved her from the first day that I read the script. What surprised me the most was how much other people also loved her. I keep my blinders on and look at the work in front of me. I was only thinking about making my part really great and shoving my whole self into every detail. But then, you’re like, “Oh, right, it’s gonna come out and other people are gonna see it,” and that’s terrifying. I never think about that when I’m doing the work. When it came out and was well-received, and people really liked it and liked Jessica, and they dress up like her and quote her, it’s so amazing. I’m hoping that we don’t disappoint our fans and that they’re just as excited to see her return as I am.
Jessica Jones Season 2 is available to stream at Netflix on March 8th.