Krysten Ritter: The Woman Behind TV’s Badass ‘Jessica Jones’
When Krysten Ritter looks in the mirror, she might see a former model, a sass-talking romcom sidekick, the star of an edgy indie flick or the kind of irreverrent funny person who’d star in a sitcom featuring the phrase “Don’t Trust the B—” in the title. All of which she’s been. “[But] I would not see what the culture described to me as a female superhero,” she says, laughing; you can practically hear her rolling her eyes on the other end of the phone line. “Like Wonder Woman or someone in those like slutty costumes? No fucking way.”
Which is exactly why the 33-year-old actress is the perfect choice for Netflix’s new show Jessica Jones (being released on the platform en toto on Novemeber 20th) — it’s far, far darker than your typical men-in-capes melodrama. Based on a semi-obscure Marvel title from the early 2000s named Alias, the second “urban superhero” collaboration between the streaming service and the comic-book company/multimedia juggernaut (after last year’s Daredevil), the series follows an extra-strength do-gooder who, after a traumatic experience, becomes a private investigator. She’s also a complete mess, chronically hungover and prone to compulsive hook-ups with bartenders when not obsessing over the mind-controlling villain (David Tennant) who forced her to kill someone. In other words, she’s the sort of conflicted, damaged antiheroine who’s right in Ritter’s sweet spot.
“I kept telling people, ‘I really want to do something like Breaking Bad,” she says, “and then people would remind me, ‘Krysten, you were on Breaking Bad!‘” (She played Jesse Pinkman’s doomed drug-addict girlfriend in Season Two.) “I needed something complex, plus I like doing dark characters and comedy — and Jessica Jones has all of that. At first, my manager had to explain to me that Krysten, this isn’t what you think it’s going to be. Finally, I just said, ‘Okay, fiiiine, I’ll go and audition…but I’ll never get it.’ When you go to Marvel, they lock you in a room with the scripts; they really are that secretive. But what they gave me to read was great — and when I heard Melissa Rosenberg was the showrunner, I thought: They are serious about this. It felt very much like, ‘Oh, so you say Marvel doesn’t usually do a great job representing women? Well, here ya go!'”