When EW visited the Brooklyn set of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, star Krysten Ritter was just a few days away from wrapping on the 13-episode season — now available to stream on Netflix — and she was admittedly tired. The job had lasted eight months, longer than any the actress has ever tackled, but the long hours hadn’t dampened Ritter’s spirits. She took the exhaustion all in stride, preferring to look at it as research.
You can read our entire conversation with Ritter from the set of Jessica Jones below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was wanting to play this part a no-brainer?
KRYSTEN RITTER: Marvel is obviously a giant, global super-brand, so being a part of that is exciting because of the huge built-in audience and the appetite for it. I feel like I’m probably the coolest one because it’s such a character piece. This is actor candy. This isn’t like all of the other Marvel superhero properties or movies you’ve seen. This is a very well-crafted, developed, psychological thriller.
How does it compare to the comics?
I think she is as developed in the show as she is in the comics. When I got the gig, I read all of the comics and called Jeph Loeb asking, “What’s next? What’s after Alias?” It’s so good. I was so excited. He said, “While I appreciate your appetite for all things Jessica Jones, she will be just as developed for television.” She is a former superhero with a really, really dark, twisted past, and that comes back to haunt her from the beginning. That’s the journey that we go on with her. She’s a very reluctant superhero.
When we meet her, is she taking on cases as a detective?
Just to make a buck, honestly. She’s not trying to save the city or really do anything. She’s making money to buy whiskey. She’s a P.I. because it’s a great opportunity for her to use her unorthodox skills and not work with people and work at night. She doesn’t have to exist and socialize.
How do her powers manifest?
She represses a lot of her abilities. She kind of wants nothing to do with it, but when she has to, she will rise to the occasion. She’s super strong. She’s a bit of a brawler. She can fly, but not well … at all. So she doesn’t do that often, because she’s so bad at it. She’s just not a very good superhero. She’s a real misfit. She’s a real f—ing misfit.
That’s got to be fun for you.
It’s so much fun. It’s a great part. She’s so cool and so strong. She’s got all of this power. I mean, it’s one of the most exciting roles I’ve ever seen, man or woman.
Were you fight-training?
As soon as I got the part, I was fight-training and boxing. I can throw a punch now. At the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. I was always like, “What do I do with my thumbs?” I enjoy the stunt portion of the show. I had no idea I would, from the first episode. I was like, “Oh my God. This is so thrilling.” I think we were doing a night shoot. Usually around two or three in the morning, you start to go down. I was just like, “Who, who else can I–” … I’ve accidentally hit people because I’ve gotten kind of into it.
What’s the feeling been like on set?
This has been such an epic and thrilling experience and nothing like I’ve ever imagined because it’s been so full-on. I’ve been working harder than I’ve ever dreamed I’d have to and learning a lot. I don’t know how I’ll adjust right away, back to normal life. I’m going to probably sleep for a week. I’m very tired. It’s been so thrilling. Every day, it’s been, “Is this really happening? Yep, it’s really happening.”
WANT MORE EW? Subscribe now to keep up with the latest in movies, television, and music.
How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been here for eight months.
That’s a long time!
Yeah, I’ve never done anything that long. The last show I did was a half-hour, so it was less time. This is a big show, so it takes longer to shoot an episode.
What’s it been like working with David Tennant?
David is heaven, and he’s such a wonderful actor. This whole cast and the show is really on another level. Everyone is so uniquely special and right for their parts. For me, I’m here every day, and then someone else will come in. I’ll get a lot of one-on-one time with David Tennant. Then I get a lot of one-on-one time with Rachael Taylor. For me, it’s been f—ing great to really spend time with all of these people on camera and off. David is constantly impressing me. His acting is like jazz. He’s doing one thing, and then he’s doing something else. He can do a five-page scene like it’s nothing. I’m just continually impressed by him and his work ethic. He’s so positive. He’s just a great guy.
It sounds like it will be dark. Where does this fall compared to Jane choking on her vomit on Breaking Bad?
It’s darker. This is unlike anything Marvel has done before. People are going to be surprised by that. I think your mind goes to a certain place when you think of Marvel. I think the most exciting thing about them is their ability to execute things really well. This is them doing something completely different. This is all really right for that book and where Jessica started. The tone is pretty spot-on.
That sounds right with Daredevil.
It’s not violent. I think it’s proportional for what that is. This is equally standing on its own. It’s like, “Whoa, what the f— is this?” Marvel has like 9,000 characters. They could do a horror movie tomorrow and call it Marvel. They can do anything. It’s really exciting for me to be a part of them doing something so different.
Is this a binger?
I think so because it’s serialized. It feels like a 13-hour movie. I haven’t seen the show, so who knows? You might need a breather. This show feels more like a movie than any serialized show I can think of.
What are the hard days on set for you?
We have pretty long hours. It’s pretty hardcore. The hardest part is starting early mornings on Monday and then by Wednesday working overnight, so I feel like I’m flying to Asia every week, getting off the plane and coming right back to work.
Did you get hurt at all?
I got a little bit of whiplash. It was fine.
It sounds like your lack of sleep might help the character.
That’s part of it. Jessica Jones doesn’t sleep much either. All of it really feeds the character. She doesn’t sleep. She’s got odd hours. It works for the role.