‘Jessica Jones’ Showrunner Reveals Link Between Krysten Ritter’s Hero and ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’

“They do kind of cross paths in some ways,” Melissa Rosenberg tells TheWrap

Last Updated: November 20, 2015 @ 9:18 PM

“Jessica Jones” is following in “Daredevil’s” footsteps as the latest Marvel superhero to find a home on Netflix.

In the series, Krysten Ritter stars as an ex-superhero who’s left that life behind following a personal tragedy. But she hasn’t given up kicking ass full time, as her current line of work — private investigator — still requires it from time to time.

While Ritter has been known for more comedic roles on shows like ABC’s “Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23” in the past, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg said her comedy chops actually made her a more perfect fit for the dark and broody titular character.

“It can get very dark and heavy and being able to inject levity was one of my top priorities,” Rosenberg told TheWrap.

The show is part of a planned shared universe with “Daredevil” before it and “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” due to follow, but “Jessica Jones,” is its own dark and twisted thing.

Rosenberg spoke with TheWrap about casting Ritter, how Marvel allowed total creative freedom despite the show’s place within the larger cinematic universe and why Jessica looked so much like Lisbeth Salander in the show’s trailer.

How did you become involved with “Jessica Jones”?
I was coming off of “Twilight” and “Dexter” and was approached about doing something with a flawed female superhero, kind of in the vein of “Iron Man.” They put me in touch with Jeph Loeb, who’s the head of Marvel TV, and he gave me the “Jessica Jones” comic books, and I just glomped onto them.

Because it is part of a shared universe with other Netflix Marvel shows, how much collaboration was there between you and the other showrunners?
Interestingly, none at all. Marvel, again Jeph Loeb, he’s sort of the keeper of the mythology and lets you know if you’re veering into territory that’s already being covered by another show or make suggestions about areas where you might want to go. But I was already breaking story on “Jessica Jones” before I’d even seen a “Daredevil” script. And I don’t think Cheo [Hodari Coker], who’s running “Luke Cage,” I don’t think he’s seen anything of “Jessica.”

What’s wonderful about that is that we’re really given creative freedom and encouraged to develop our vision of the storytelling.

How close to the comic books did you stick?
As close as I possibly could, because I think they’re freaking brilliant. That’s what brought me into this in the first place, was the incredible writing by Brian Michael Bendis. If I could have used it all, I would have. Unfortunately, the mythology of the Marvel comic universe is different from the Marvel cinematic universe, and the MCU is where these Netflix shows live. But that said, I took as much as I possibly could, on the character, the relationships. And people who were fans of the book will definitely see things that were lifted from the book.

Krysten Ritter has been known mostly for her comedic roles. Did this feel like an out-of-the-box casting choice?
I had known her for her comedic work initially as well. My husband Lev Spiro, who’s a director, had directed her on “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23” and he talked about her a great deal, how talented she was, and I watched that show and loved it. But one of the most important things to me in casting Jessica Jones was someone who had some comedic chops. It can get very dark and heavy, and being able to inject levity was one of my highest priorities, and I needed an actress who could deliver that.

So that had put her at the top of my list way back when, and then her run in “Breaking Bad” came out and I thought, holy moly, she can go way in the other direction as well, with wrenching emotional drama. So just seeing that kind of range, she was always at the top of my list.

Luke Cage is a major character on the series. How did you create that character, knowing he’s going off to lead his own series?
Yeah, we were deep into writing the show before Cheo came aboard to do his series. He and I haven’t really talked at all. The one who was keeping me honest was again Jeph Loeb, and one of my writers, co-executive producer, Scott Reynolds, is a huge Luke Cage fan. So they were all kind of protecting the Luke Cage brand in writing him in the room.

We had to preserve his story for his series, his origin stories and such. So what’s important about his role on “Jessica Jones” is what their back story is, what their mysterious connection.

Jessica is kind of a loner when we first meet her. Will we see her build a little gang of sidekicks the way Matt Murdoch does on “Daredevil”?
We really wanted to avoid the Scooby Gang. But she does team up with different characters. She’s got friends or, in some cases, frenemies, but the show is called “Jessica Jones” so she’s taking on the world.

I felt like there were some very obvious nods to “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in the trailers. Was Lisbeth Salander an influence on the character?
I really wasn’t a comic book fan before reading “Jessica Jones,” but it was such beautiful writing and so rich. That character, I believe he created it before “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” but certainly the look was influenced by David Fincher‘s movie. That was one of the references we were looking at.

They do kind of cross paths in some ways. They both have that dark history, but they’re really very different characters.

There are several prominent female characters on the show, how important was it to you to explore female friendships and relationships?
It just happened that certain characters lent themselves to female roles. My intention was to have the show populated with a diverse cast. Fifty-fity, really well balanced in terms of gender, and it works, as with my writing room, very diverse. It’s very to me, and it’s very important in terms of storytelling. There’s several major female characters and several men as well, it’s about balance, that’s really what I was focused on.

All 13 episodes of “Jessica Jones” will prmeiere on Netflix on Friday, Nov. 20.