Plus: Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg and star Krysten Ritter tease the upcoming season

By Shirley Li
December 08, 2017 at 09:30 AM EST
  • TV Show

A version of this story appears in the First Look issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday. For more exclusive interviews and First Look photos only in EW, buy it here or subscribe now.

Looks like Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is going to need a stiff drink. The super-powered PI may have killed her mind-controlling abuser Kilgrave (David Tennant) at the end of the Marvel-Netflix drama’s first season, but that doesn’t mean she’s forgotten him — or what he did. “He’s such a part of her construction and her dilemma,” showrunner Melissa Rosenberg says. “I think just having him come back and be that mirror again is really important.”

And Kilgrave’s lingering presence won’t be Jessica’s only problem in season 2. Sure, she did just (very reluctantly) help save New York City, but what happened on The Defenders was just “a blip” in her story, Ritter says. “Jessica is in a pretty dark headspace when we meet her at the top of season 2. What we’ve done again is kept the story very personal. If season 1 was in her head and in her mind, then this season will be more in her heart. It’s still a psychological thriller, but it’s more of an emotional thriller this time.” Rosenberg agrees: “She was somewhat of a mess even before Kilgrave came into her life, so [season 2] is about digging deeper into that chaos and peeling back those layers.” In the end, the mystery of Jessica herself may be her hardest case to crack.

See the first image from Jessica Jones season 2 below, along with EW’s interview with Rosenberg and Ritter.

David Giesbrecht/Netflix

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Krysten, what was it like having David back on set with you?
KRYSTEN RITTER: Having David back on set was amazing. We had such a great run the first season, and it felt like a celebration, having him back. The content is maybe not much of a celebration [laughs], but having him be present and spending time with him on a personal level kind of felt like one. 

And I saw the photo that you’re running. It just took my breath away, because playing Jessica is the most creatively fulfilling series of my life, and also the most difficult. [Laughs] Seeing that photo, I was like, “Oh my God!” My heart was broken for her all over again. 

Melissa, why was it important to bring David back as Kilgrave? What can you tell us about what’s going on here?
MELISSA ROSENBERG: Well, as always, our show is very much about Jessica and her internal life and her struggle, and he’s such a part of her construction and her dilemma. I think just having him come back and be that mirror again is really important.

What was the biggest challenge to diving back into Jessica’s world for both of you? It’s been a long time since season 1 aired, back in November 2015.
ROSENBERG: Facing a blank whiteboard is always intimidating, but it’s always about, “What journey are you going to take Jessica on that is deeply personal and emotional and exciting and surprising?” Finding that story is just a huge challenge every time, and it will always be.

RITTER: It’s a gift, also, in having that space [between season 1 and season 2]. This was an amazing opportunity for story development because of the additional time Melissa and the team got to write everything in advance. It just allowed us to go even deeper, like a happy accident, you know? And for me, I did The Defenders and Jessica Jones back-to-back, so I did 12 months straight of Jessica.

Speaking of which, how has Jessica’s life changed since The Defenders? Where do we find her at the start of season 2?
RITTER: I think Jessica is in a pretty dark headspace when we meet her at the top of season 2. The Defenders took place over the course of, like, a minute — well, it was a week long — so that was like a blip in time, and we didn’t focus too much on it.

Melissa, could you talk a little more about what questions you wanted to ask, what themes you wanted to tackle while breaking the story for season 2?
ROSENBERG: In season 1, we focused on Jessica’s trauma, on Jessica facing her abuser, but in season 2, we wanted to go even deeper than that. As you’ve seen in season 1, she was somewhat of a mess even before Kilgrave came into her life, so it was really just about digging deeper into this chaos and peeling back those layers, just going to the core of her being. That was our objective.

What do you mean by that? Is the focus this season on her past, before Kilgrave?
ROSENBERG: I don’t know how much we can say…

RITTER: I think what we can say is that what we’ve done again is kept the story very personal. If season 1 was in her head and in her mind, then season 2 will be more in her heart. This season is more emotional. It’s still a psychological thriller, but it’s more of an emotional thriller this time. [Laughs] I just thought of that on the spot!

What else can we expect from season 2? There are a few new additions to the cast, including Janet McTeer.
 Just by nature of a new structure and it being more emotional, you have to expand the world beyond just Jessica’s head. We’re allowing Carrie-Anne Moss and Hogarth’s story line, Rachael Taylor who plays Trish, and Eka Darville who plays Malcolm to have more opportunities for development so our world will feel a little bigger. The show is still totally focused on Jessica, but the supporting players are getting great moments to shine this season.

I have to ask — the Avengers: Infinity War trailer just debuted, and it looks like New York comes under attack. Any updates on whether the street-level heroes will have anything to do with the films?
ROSENBERG: None whatsoever. Our partners are Marvel, and if we’re doing something that’s counter to [their continuity], they would pull us back or orient us on the right path, so clearly we’re [okay]. But we’re very much in our own world.

Now, this season was written and filmed before the deluge of headlines about sexual harassment. Jessica Jones is a show that deals heavily with sexual abuse and trauma, so how have you thought about the series’ relevance at this point, and about how the industry can be a safer space for women?
Well, we were ahead of the curve, you know? It’s just the nature of our show. A woman is starring in it, a woman is running it, and it’s a way of facilitating change.

RITTER: Yeah, I mean, we already felt like we were doing that. We have a really unique situation where our show is all women, the main character’s a woman, it’s written by a woman, and even when the crew comes in, they always make comments about how different our energy is on set… There’s a real, feminine power to our show that is noticeable, I think.

ROSENBERG: It’s affirmation. It’s an example of how [Hollywood] can and should work. I mean, I knew that for myself personally, but for everything that’s going on in the world, it’s like, “Hey guys, we’ve been doing this all along.” It’s not that hard, you know? It’s not that hard to do it right.

Jessica Jones returns in 2018.

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