This article contains some Jessica Jones Season 2 spoilers.
Since her introduction as Trish Walker in Jessica Jones, fans have been clamoring to see the character evolve into some version of her superheroic alter ego, Hellcat. Jessica Jones season 2, currently streaming on Netflix, certainly puts Trish on that path, with the character going on a single-minded quest to fill a perceived void in her life: her lack of super powers.
I spoke with Rachael Taylor after only seeing five episodes of Jessica Jones Season 2, and hours before the season premiered on Netflix. As a result, she was unable to discuss spoilers (at one point joking about “the Marvel secrecy rule and their snipers”), and I wasn’t able to get into specifics about the back half of Trish Walker’s journey through the season. But even in this brief talk, it was clear that Trish’s journey was only just beginning.
Before getting into what it takes to become Hellcat, it’s worth addressing how TV’s Trish Walker mirrors the evolution of her comic book counterpart, Patsy Walker. Marvel’s Patsy Walker comics were teen humor/romance comics, in the vein of Archie. It wasn’t until years later that Marvel decided to integrate the Patsy Walker character into the Marvel Universe and turn her into a superhero. Ms. Taylor gave that long history of the character some thought as she approached the role.
“I like to do a combination of things when it comes to fleshing out the history of Trish because she has such a rich backstory,” Taylor says. “I think it’s quite masterful what Melissa has created in terms of making the leap from the Patsy Walker comic books and tying that back into Trish’s history as a child star. I think it’s really clever, especially I don’t know if you’ve read any of the original Patsy Walker comic books, but I took a look at a few of them and I can totally see that connection between a child’s television show and the source material. I actually think that was a little stroke of genius on her part.”
“I read up a lot about different child stars,” Taylor says of the research she did on the role. “Obviously that’s not my experience so I had to do a little bit of research to do the deep dive into what that experience is like. There’s always a way to draw from your own real life experiences even though I don’t have exactly the same ones as Trish. You’re always looking as a way for an actor to draw differences and similarities. Where there’s similarities I think I use them and when there are differences I flesh that out with my imagination. Also in talking to Melissa Rosenberg, the creator of our show. I’m always looking for her perspective and mining her for information about where she’s coming from and why.”
Trish’s experiences as a child star, some of which were quite traumatic, also inform her later journey, and how she reacts to having a best friend with super powers. “Jessica is still struggling with what has happened to her,” Taylor says. “She’s been the victim of abuse and now she’s a murderer. Trish in her own way is also still struggling under the weight of her own childhood trauma. It’s very different, but it’s not that different.”
“Trish is a character that has a lot of ambition and a lot of appetite,” Taylor says. “I think in some way she’s quite coveted of the powers that Jessica has. Trish really wants to matter. She wants to do more. She wants to be more than what she is.” With Trish being the driving force behind Jessica’s decision to investigate her own origins, Taylor says that “it really speaks to Trish’s craving for power.”
Of course, there are plenty of similarities between the two. “I think Jessica and Trish actually share more experiences in some ways than not,” Taylor says. “Particularly the back half of the season there’s some really neat windows into Trish’s past, and why it shaped her sense of lack. Her sense of that she’s not enough, which is certainly really interesting to play as an actor because on the surface Trish looks like the character in the show that has it all. She has everything. You would think that she would be satisfied, but yet she has this gaping hole in her that creates this desire for more.”
It’s that “desire for more” that ultimately leads Trish to try her hand at crimefighting under the influence of the drug that gave her ex, Wil Simpson, his super soldier abilities, and ultimately to seek out the shady Dr. Karl Malus, the man responsible for giving Jessica her powers. This meant we had a more action-ready Trish Walker (if not a full blown Hellcat) this season, and that took some training.
“For season two I really worked my ass off,” Taylor says. “I like to keep it up in between things because the personal benefit for me, has made me feel more empowered. It’s created this separate passion in my personal life for being a little stronger and being in fighting shape. I like the way it makes me move through the world. It makes me feel more of a bad ass.”
“Also, it’s informative for the character too,” she continues. “Trish is a very ambitious woman. I love that Jessica Jones puts ambitious and competitive and motivated women on screen. Jessica is a little different. She hides it with some resistance and some self sabotage, but ultimately I think they’re very driven women. I love that we put that on the screen. I think that’s important.”
Trish’s drive to become more powerful, and more of a force for good at any cost in the world has definitely earned the character a fair share of criticism from fans this season, and Ms. Taylor seemed aware of how Trish might be perceived this time around. “These characters aren’t always likable,” she admits. Certainly in season two, I don’t think Trish always does likable things, but they’re grounded and relatable and ambitious. I think it’s great. For me, all the fight training that we’ve had to do has been something I’ve kept in my real life because it gets your mindset right. [The physical training] folded into Trish’s appetite for more in a really cool way.”
The season ends with a not terribly subtle hint that Trish is manifesting some powers of her own. When Jessica Jones Season 3 is confirmed (and let’s face it, this is a “when” not an “if”), it’s likely we’re going to see yet another evolution for Trisha Walker.