COVER STORY: THE RITTER EFFECT
Editor Azza Arif catches up with Jessica Jones lead actress Krysten Ritter in Los Angeles where she dishes on everything from red carpet style and equality to... knitting!
In the wake of so much violence against women, and the daily struggle that many modern women face, like harassment, assault and post-traumatic stress disorder, it is utterly necessary to see a more realistic media depiction of the different issues that we, as women, go through. And to have a huge corporation like Marvel studios turn a trauma assault survivor into a formidable superhero that can stand up to misogynistic fools, and punch them square in the jaws, is everything. Anchored by starKrysten Ritter, Jessica Jones is the very face of female vengeance; she is the hero we need. A private investigator with superhuman strengths, she is not there to be the love interest to a male superhero, or the pretty sidekick that mothers the team− and she does not walk around in tight-fitting Lycra and heels. As Season Three filming of the show nears completion, Azza Arif caught up with lead actress Krysten Ritter for a quick cover shoot around Los Angeles
Jessica doesn’t take any shit from anyone and I admire that about her,” states Krysten Ritter, the talented star who plays Jessica Jones. When Jessica Jones debuted on Netflix a couple of years back, I thought, hell yes! Finally, here was a Marvel heroine for women who struggled with the challenges of being a sexual assault and abuse survivor, and rose above her traumatic experiences to gain and employ super strength against evil— and she didn’t need any costumes to change into. After binge-watching both seasons of the show, and immersing myself in the complicated world of Jessica Jones, I half expected to see Ritter roll into the studio in West Hollywood dressed in a leather jacket, distressed denims and a whole ‘lotta attitude. But that wasn’t the case. Bubbly and engaging, the real-life character of the dark haired beauty is nothing like her on-screen role as the fiercest female character in pop culture. “I’m much more chill. I also can’t actually lift a car in real life and I don’t go around punching people!” Ritter tells me. “I would say that I like to be silly and have fun, and Jessica doesn’t really get to do that.” And she is a lot more girly than her on-screen counterpart. “The slight hint of purple on this mascara is so pretty!” she gushes to Jamie Greenberg, the makeup artist for the shoot, as she brushes on on a few strokes of mascara. After her makeup was done, we proceeded to get her changed into the first outfit of the day—a long flowy, printed black dress from Longchamp. “I really like how this dress feels, and falls on me,” she tells me, as she moves around the studio in the dress. She seemed a lot more fun than Ms. Jones. But this doesn't mean that she isn’t tough− this gorgeous lanky actress does all of her own stunts. “Yes, I do all the stunts I can. Unfortunately, it’s a numbers game at a certain point.” She changes into her next outfit; an all-black leather jacket with sheep fur trimmings. “You’re doing so many stunts, of course you’re bound to have some accidents. One wrong move or step and you’re going to hurt yourself. I totally accidentally punched someone once!” She also came in with a slight injury to her back, which had happened while filming a scene.
So how does Ritter get herself physically ready to take on the stunts? “I do a lot of training and of course we rehearse with a fight choreographer, and we do have stunt doubles. We make sure everything is as safe as possible.”
But what I felt was even more powerful than her undeniably cool stunt moves, was how Jessica Jones does not smile through the daily microaggressions when most women must. She is simply NOT okay with all the different things that women have always had to endure. Jessica Jones is the ultimate feminist! “I’m grateful for all the women and men who helped pave the way for us to be here now, talking about feminism in this way,” Ritter tells me. “I think we have a long way to go to reach equality but I’m encouraged that we are continuing to strive for better.”
The characters that Ritter played throughout her career are not always dark, rage-fuelled and unforgiving− ok maybe just in Breaking Bad. But in Gilmore Girls, 27 Dresses, Confessions of a
Shopaholic, and Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, her characters were lighter and much more outgoing. So, does our superhero get any downtime when she isn’t filming? “Ha, it’s been so long since I was not filming I can barely remember. I would hang out with my dog, I would go to yoga and have dinner with my girlfriends or I’m writing,” She is a published author, with Bonfire as her first novel. “I knit too. Gosh, I’ve knitted so many things and I give most of them away! I am super into the best friend sweater I made for my collaboration with We Are Knitters.”
I asked her about how she felt about the new shift in how female leads are now portrayed in Hollywood, and in entertainment in general. “It’s exciting and empowering for sure. We are getting to a place where you don’t have to ask ‘what is it like being a woman in Hollywood’—that question would never be proposed to a man. It’s about damn time.” And I completely agree with that. We should all channel our inner Jessica Jones more often and stand up against any form of harassment or assault, whether against us or against our fellow sisters. Just skip the car lifting bit.