No one could have embodied Jessica Jones like Krysten Ritter does. Her had-it-up-to-here spin on the hard-boozing private detective will soon take its final bow, which also doubles as Netflix’s farewell to the MCU, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of exasperated eye rolls to come. And with several acclaimed shows, including Breaking Bad and Veronica Mars, under Ritter’s belt, the time was right for her to step into the director’s seat during this Jones season. That was merely one of multiple challenges she faced, in addition to filming an action role while pregnant and painting different shades of her reluctant superhero for the Marvel tapestry.
Ritter was kind enough to talk with us about not only her career but how she’s preparing to open up a new chapter in her personal life (given that she’s now reached third-trimester pregnancy). She’s also still striving — while juggling a plethora of side projects, including producing and novel writing and showcasing her growing knitting obsession on Instagram — to maintain balance and accept that being “unstoppable” isn’t always possible or sustainable. That’s something that Jessica Jones also learns this season, as we discussed.
You’re one of the few people I can ask this question to and receive an affirmative answer: have you knitted anything today?
I’m crocheting a few things. One, two, three projects going right now?
Your sweaters are pretty rad.
Thank you, I’m rocking and making a bunch of baby blankets right now.
I bet. Were you pregnant when you were shooting this third season?
I was! You’re the first person to ask me that. I can’t believe, like with the whole junket day, nobody asked me if I was pregnant when we were filming. I was in my first trimester while shooting Jessica Jones, which was interesting. It was a secret, and the funny thing is that when I finally told people, at like, when I was much further along, nobody seemed that surprised from the show? So when I asked one of the [production assistants], one of my girlfriends, who runs our first team, I was like, “Oh, that probably explains why I all of a sudden started ordering pancakes all the time?” And she said, “Oh, I had a feeling…” I think more people probably had an inkling that this was happening than I thought. I thought it was very under wraps, and I don’t know if it was.
Were you still throwing yourself into the stunt work at that point?
Yeah well, I did what was safe, and my stunt double, Dejay [Roestenberg], she was one of the few people who did know that I was pregnant. So, I’d kind of give her a look and ask her take, and we would kind of collaborate in that way. Anything that involved body contact I let her do. But then like punching and stuff, I could still do, but there was one stunt in particular where I had to kind of run and jump and tackle somebody, and I kind of gave her a look like, “Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this?” And she said, “Maybe I’ll handle that one!”
I don’t know how you did it because my first trimester was nausea city.
I didn’t know that, so maybe I was just naive? Or just not around pregnant people, but I had no idea, what it entailed, and I felt lucky that I wasn’t really nauseous until we finished, but the fatigue was something that was humbling. There were moments when I could sit in my chair and fall asleep, and I’ve never been somebody who even took a nap during the day. So, I couldn’t believe how tired I was, but by the end, you know, my jeans started getting a little too tight, but you make it work.
Oh, and the Jessica Jones jeans are essential for a reason.
Yes, they really are. The costume girls, well, I’d go to them and be like, “Hmm, well do you guys think you should put a little piece of elastic in there?”
Well, I did laugh this season when Jessica Jones goes to the beach, and she’s still wearing her jeans.
Of course, if she went to unwind, she probably would not go to the beach, so where would she go?
That’s an excellent point. It was part of the idea of it being a really funny image of seeing Jessica Jones in her leather jacket, you know, boots, jeans, at the beach … she doesn’t really fit in there. For Jessica relaxing, I feel like she’s broody at the bar, you know?
C’mon, the bar’s where she always goes? You gotta think of something different.
That’s where she goes to get, you know, angry. Not really to relax?
I think it’s a little bit of both. It’s her escape, it’s like one-stop shopping at the bar.
Deal. And she dwells a lot upon what it means to be a hero, which is a familiar theme these days. How does Jessica dig into the subject differently?
Right, well this is the first time we’ve seen Jessica apply herself and insert herself and try to live up to her potential as a hero, and in the past, Jessica wouldn’t have done that. Unless it was deeply personal, unless it involved Trish, unless it was something that really made her get up and out of bed. But this is the first time where she’s like, “You know what? I do care, and I can do something. How do I do that?” So this season is about figuring out the silly nuts and bolts about: how do you actually be a hero? How do you get clients? How does this work? So part of the fun this season is seeing her fumble while trying to figure that out, and part of her huge emotional growth is her sacrificing the personal for the greater good.
She learns a lot from Trish, ironically.
Yeah, obviously, they’re dealing with a completely different dynamic this year, after what happened in season two, their friendship is changed and strained forever. After what she did to Jessica, and now she has powers and is saying that she envied and wanted her whole life what Jessica has had, and she hasn’t, and now she finally has. Their approach is very different. Trish is very gung-ho and excited about it, and that’s frustrating Jessica, who’s more pragmatic and more reluctant and has seen the dark side of having powers. So, the two have very different approaches in this, but they ultimately kind-of work together and need each other, for a time.
The episode from Trish’s point-of-view was your directorial debut, right?
Yes, oh my God, that was amazing, and that was the episode to get because that was a departure from our show. I think for any director coming in, that’s the one that you’d want. I guess that I really put my stamp on it? [I departed from] the usual format to create a new style for Trish, which was really exciting for me, and getting to originate her story. It’s almost like doing a bottle episode or a movie within our show, so I had the best time doing that. No one cares about how this show looks and feels more than I do. And I was so excited that I got the opportunity to originate her character and do her origin story because I was gonna make sure that she was gonna look as cool as possible. I know Rachael [Taylor] so well, she’s like a sister to me in real life, and getting to play with her, and knowing what she’s capable of as an actress, and being able to get in there and push her even further — it was such an exciting time for all of us.
I did not know that you directed that episode until after I watched it, but of course that was the one. You could really feel the energy flowing between you guys.
That’s awesome, thank you.
This season, Jessica also learns that she’s not as unstoppable as she thinks she is.
Yeah, Jessica becomes vulnerable. It was cool to have that in there as well because when you play the same character for a long period of time, you wanna always find new colors to play. Also even just looking different, all of a sudden, Jessica’s really down and out, really sickly, rundown, looks like shit, we would have fun making my makeup look like I was on the verge of death. My hair looked terrible, and that’s always really fun. Anytime you can change it up when you’re playing the same character in the same outfit for so many years? That was a fun episode to do as well.
You had a lot of delightfully grumpy dialogue as well, especially that one word that you put on repeat.
Yeah, oh my god. By the end, I didn’t want to hear the word [redacted] at all, I’m never saying the word [redacted] ever again.
Speaking of unstoppable, you are the type that has a million side projects going. How do you plan on juggling all that once your child is born?
The joke among my friends and the people that I work with is all about Krysten and her side hustles, but I love my side projects. They fulfill me in great ways, and I’m always someone who loves to do a lot, a lot of variety, and I have a lot of interests, and this feels like the ultimate side project. I’m so excited to have my baby come, and have this experience, I feel like I’m very grateful to have this opportunity, to have this big life experience that a lot of people have. It’s so crazy and I’m ready for my life to evolve and find deeper meaning in my work because of it. And I guess I’ll figure it out as I go? I’m the kind of person with whatever I do, I prep like crazy and do my homework and show up super prepared and kind of let it all fall to the side and let the magic happen and trust that I’ve done the work, so I’m prepping like crazy and reading all the books, getting all the stuff, and then when the baby comes, I’ll just go with the flow. I don’t know how it will go — how does it work?
It does not work how you think it’s gonna work, but it’s gonna be great.
Yeah! I think it’s gonna be great. I love to work, and I love my job, and that’s never going to go away. I’ll figure it out, kinda like I figured out the rest of it, like everybody else does.
Career-wise, you’ve found value in vision-boarding and sometimes receive what’s on your board. Do you have a board in process now?
Well, I usually keep it pretty private until it happens, so that’s kind of just a thing, but I think that there’s power in that, if there’s energy, and you’re clear about what you want, and you don’t always have to be very clear, but if you are, there’s no shame in putting it out there and going after it. So, it’s something that I have always done and always recommend, and whenever people always ask me for career advice, that is a small portion of it. And it’s just about the energy that you put into it.
Netflix’s final season of ‘Jessica Jones‘ arrives on June 14.