Behind every superhero, inevitably, is the lawyer they need to bail them out. That's basically been the role of Jeri Hogarth across most of Marvel's Netflix shows, at least when it comes to having to wrangle the Defenders who frequently get themselves into a bit of legal trouble. Of course, Jeri wouldn't be Jeri if she didn't find a way to request a favor in return.
From her first appearance in season one of Jessica Jones to her unexpectedly delightful cameo on Daredevil to her link to Danny Rand on Iron Fist, Jeri Hogarth has become one of the human intersections of Marvel's Netflix heroes—but she's more than just the astute, no-nonsense lawyer that occasionally finds herself tangling with local vigilantes. In season two of Jessica Jones, which dropped in full on Netflix this month, we have the opportunity to see even more of her layers peeled back. SYFY Fangrrls spoke with Carrie-Anne Moss about the deeper and darker struggles her character faces this season.
Jeri is so unapologetic in ways that we don't often see in female characters—in terms of how pragmatic she is with her job, or how power is something that she doesn't really make a secret of enjoying having, or her sexuality. As an actor who has gotten to inhabit several female characters in sci-fi and fantasy, do you feel like it's a space where we see these types of female characters written and maybe more widely accepted as opposed to other genres?
That's a great question. I guess I feel just kind of naturally empowered, [and] I love playing Jeri because she's so empowered, right? I love that. Completely unapologetic about it. That's really fun. I feel like I see that a lot now, so I don't know in what genre it happens more. What I really love about this season is that we still see that unapologetic confidence and power, and yet we get to see what lies underneath it—and what lies underneath it is a human being who has a lot of vulnerability and pain. I think that I enjoy playing someone that strong and getting an opportunity to show more than just that, because I don't think even the strongest most empowered women are just that. I think women are much more complicated than just one way. So, it was fun to get to play her and have all those masks come down, because of her circumstances and what she's dealing with. As an actor that is fun.
We talked to your co-star Rachel Taylor about the concept of likeability and how a lot of the times there's an expectation on female characters to be likable, but the refreshing thing about Jessica Jones' female leads is that they don't really seem to be concerned with that. As an actor, is it easier or harder to play a character who isn't really concerned about being likable?
I think playing likable is like suicide as an actor. Obviously, there's some movies or some shows where the lead character has that incredible warmth and likeability, but I wouldn't say that I get cast in that very often. I wouldn't say that's my forte, playing likable people. I've never sort of felt that pressure.
I talked to Melissa Rosenberg yesterday and both seasons of the show were written and filmed well before the movements we're seeing in Hollywood, like #MeToo, but there is a storyline this season that turned out to be very timely and appropriate. What is it like to tell a story almost two years ago that wound up being very relevant now?
It's very interesting, right? To see that. That completely makes sense in a way, because Melissa is really writing from a deep place—and the timing and all of that is what it is. At times I was like, "Wow, oh my gosh, the show deals with that." [It's] interesting to be creating cinema or creating art that's completely reflecting what's happening in the world. That's pretty amazing.
It's completely devastating—as it would be for anyone—but for Jeri, being someone who really felt and believed that she could control and have control over everything, the whole thing with Kilgrave was really devastating for her. She didn't think he could do that to her, control her mind.
Then, for her to be facing her health in that way and realizing that all the control, all the money, all the power in the world isn't going to do shit for her is a huge wake-up call and a real spiral down into the truth for her. Because she's such a fighter, she's going to figure her way out of it, you know? She's going to do what she can to not go down. Yeah, I think that stems from her wanting to be in control of her life.
Season one automatically felt gritty in a lot of ways—even compared to some of the other Netflix Marvel shows. It looks like a lot of the characters are going to darker places. What was that like, exploring a darker place for Jeri in particular?
[It was] really good to get to have a layered character to play, to have a complicated character to play, to have all the masks. She's still strong, she's still completely asserting her power but completely falling apart, completely off the rails—and yet still really functioning and trying to figure it out. It's always fun to play someone who isn't just one way. Just playing Jeri being powerful — sure, it's fun, but this was much more fulfilling as an actor, to get to play all these other pieces of her.
She's also sort of been the connecting tissue for a lot of these Netflix Marvel shows. I mean, we saw her pop up on Iron Fist and she has a working relationship with Foggy Nelson so she kind of has a little connection to Daredevil. Is there any chance that we'll get to see her pop up on other MCU shows, or is there any place that you would like to see her maybe do a little fun crossover in the future?
Yeah, I don't know. Marvel is so secretive, you never know. I get a call, I get an email, I get a message: "Oh, you're going to be in this show." I sometimes don't know 'til a week before so I have no idea. Honestly.
She's kind of the stealth, secret crossover character.
Yeah. "Oh, we need a lawyer. We need a lawyer!"
Season two of Jessica Jones is now streaming on Netflix.