The Defenders: Krysten Ritter Talks Returning to Jessica Jones

Krysten Ritter told us about what it's like stepping back into the leather jacket of Jessica Jones for Marvel's The Defenders.

Krysten Ritter was deep into filming Jessica Jones Season 2 while we were conducting interviews for our in-depth look at the making of Marvel’s The Defenders, but she was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to respond to some questions via email.

When did you first realize what a tremendous impact your performance as Jessica was having?

I definitely felt it once people started seeing the show, after some of the early reviews and reactions from our first New York Comic Con. And then [again], once the show was launched out into the world. It was so exciting and exceeded any expectations I could have had. I shot the show in such a bubble [with] crazy prep work and then just one day at a time. I actually wasn’t allowed to see any of the cuts until after the entire season was finished. I had a sneaking suspicion that we were doing some special work, but of course you never know how everything will line up. It’s been a truly wild ride. I’m so grateful to have such a good part that not only challenges me creatively but that has something to say and has made such an impact on the fans.

Were you prepared for the wild fan reaction at New York Comic Con when The Defenders were united on stage for the first time?

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I was definitely not prepared! No one could have prepared me for that. I thought that our first New York Comic Con for Jessica Jones was epic because we had a pretty major reaction from the crowd after showing our first episode! But for Defenders? That room went NUTS – they were chanting “Defenders – Defenders” and then when Sigourney Weaver came on stage the chant went to “HOLY SHIT – HOLY SHIT – HOLY SHIT”  — I myself was like, HOLY SHIT. It was totally insane and amazing. 

Was this an easy role to slip back into after a year or so away from Jessica?

Upon returning, I did have the luxury of knowing her to the bones. So those tools and experiences were already ingrained in me. In the sense that I wasn’t starting from scratch, yes, that’s easier. But JJ carries a lot of emotional weight around with her as a result of her past traumas, and that doesn’t go away.

Jessica has such a unique voice, and her personality makes her less likely to play well with others than her teammates. In terms of the team dynamic of The Defenders, where would you say Jessica fits?

I would say Jessica is there reluctantly and she seizes every opportunity to say so, which lends itself to some laughs for sure! At the end of the day, her participating in the Defenders roller coaster is reluctant but also her moral responsibility. Even though she often has such contempt for her abilities, JJ is still a powered person and she knows she can help. And if put to the test, she freaking will. Which is what I love so much about her. 

Charlie Cox had wonderful things to say about his time working with you, and there seems to be a really fun dynamic between Jessica and Matt. Does anything stand out about your time working together? Is there a reason you feel these two characters work well off each other?

Charlie Cox is one of my favorite humans on the planet and now he’s my bezzie mate (his word)! Working with him and spending every day with him was such a treat. We have very similar acting processes and working styles on set. We just fell into a solid friendship and partnership from day one. It’s so wonderful when that happens.

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As an actor, Charlie has such integrity about his work and he brings the heat and good ideas every day. He and I would always look out for each other, share ideas, brainstorm how to make moments deeper, funnier, you name it.  That’s really the case with all of us in the entire cast. Outside of the scenes Charlie is funny, smart, and he’s an electric story teller. Also, he pretty much 100% of the time laughs the hardest at my jokes. I even got him into knitting! I taught Charlie Cox how to knit! 

In terms of the Jessica and Matt dynamic onscreen, I loved our scenes together because these are two strong, loner characters who don’t really look for, ask for, or accept help. It was kind of a game of feeling each other out and really earning each other’s trust. 

You’ve worked with Sigourney Weaver before [on Amy Heckerling’s 2012 vampire comedy, Vamps]. What’s it like working with her this time around?

It was so awesome to get to see Sigourney again. I simply worship her. Who doesn’t?! It turns out she was a big Jessica Jones fan and she told me that she thought it was one of the best roles of the past few years, and that just tickled me pink.

Your interpretation of Jessica Jones is the definitive one as far as the public is concerned. More people have seen the show than have read the comics.

It’s exciting to originate Jessica Jones. There’s obviously more freedom in that versus playing a well known character. I’m so happy that my creative choices that were inspired by the comics and the scripts were well received. I try to just work hard and bring my best to do the character justice, and that’s all I have control over.

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