‘Jessica Jones’ Star Janet McTeer on the Challenges of Fitting Into ‘That Comic Book World’

TheWrap Emmy magazine: “I’m not sure how I’d do it or if I’d be any good at it,” the Oscar nominee says of her initial reaction to playing Krysten Ritter’s mother

Last Updated: June 20, 2018 @ 11:26 AM

This story about Janet McTeer first appeared in the Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

Janet McTeer never thought she’d play a Marvel Comics character — but when the opportunity arose to be in the second season of “Jessica Jones,” she found it was perfect for her.

“I thought, ‘I’m not quite sure how to do that comic book world,'” said the British stage and film actress, who received Oscar nominations for “Tumbleweeds” and “Albert Nobbs.” “It’s not really what I do, and I’m not sure how I’d do it or if I’d be any good at it. But when I watched it, I realized it was more like people with superpowers having super problems. It was very dark and twisted and real.”

Actress Janet McTee, "Jessica Jones"

Photographed by Steven Gerlich for TheWrap

McTeer said she soon understood what creator Melissa Rosenberg and the writers wanted from the character. “You need somebody who can look like they’re really scary and terrifying, but someone who can also be more complicated, softer, more motherly,” said McTeer, who stands 6-foot-1.

“I’m pretty Amazonian, even at my great age, so I would see why they would want somebody like me — I’ve got that intense kind of scariness, but I can also do the other side.”

McTeer plays Alisa Jones, the mother of Krysten Ritter’s title character. Alisa was believed to have been killed in a car accident, but she survived and became an intense killing machine.

“It was weird joining a company of players who already knew each other,” McTeer said, “but that actually worked really well because the character didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know her. As we all got to know each other, it helped the character.”

The show has been hailed as a feminist one with strong female characters, a female creator and, in Season 2, solely female directors. “Giving all the strength to the women is, of course, a feminist statement,” McTeer said.

“What I love about what Melissa has done is that it’s all so complicatedly female. I don’t know a female who isn’t complicated. Being a woman is more complicated than being a man, and she’s really embraced all of those things in the writing of ‘Jessica Jones.'”

Read more of TheWrap’s Comedy/Drama/Actors Emmy issue here.

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