During Comic-Con International in San Diego, “Blindspot” star Jaimie Alexander (“Thor”) and executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Flash,” “Arrow”) and Martin Gero (“Stargate: Atlantis”) and Jaimie Alexander (“Thor”) met with journalists during a press opportunity to discuss the forthcoming NBC television thriller.
In “Blindspot,” Alexander plays Jane Doe, a woman discovered in New York’s Times Square with no memory, a body covered with tattoos and a Jason Bourne-like set of mercenary skills. Doe then partners with an FBI agent played by “300: Rise of an Empire’s” Sullivan Stapleton to investigate her mysterious past.
Gero came up with the idea for the show, the kernel of which is an image of the FBI discovering a bomb in Times Square — only to find that the package was, in fact, a woman wearing nothing but tattoos. He knew he had the basic ingredients for a television show — not to mention a “Halloween costume” — if everything went well. He brought the idea to Berlanti who then helped him flesh the story out.
When it came to “Blindspot’s” pitch, Berlanti saw “a slightly heightened world with exciting adventure, but with a narrative that was really compelling.” He added that “you really felt for [Jane Doe] even though she was incredibly capable and talented. It’s more in that ‘Bourne’ vein, which is how we talked about ‘Arrow’ in the beginning.”
For his part, Berlanti had also wanted to work with Gero for some time and saw “Blindspot” as the right project for the two of them to collaborate on. The key to working with others, said Berlanti, is to find people with vision.
Berlanti and Gero decided upon an engine to power the show. The two turned the mysterious body art into a treasure map, with each piece of ink holding a clue for the show’s procedural format. “The people that made the tattoos have a specific plan in place,” Said Gero. To ensure accuracy and the potential for expansion, possibly into additional seasons, “Blindspot” producers hired one of the crossword puzzle designers from “The New York Times.” Every tattoo holds a clue that even viewers can decipher. Alexander commented that it takes seven hours to place the tattoos on her body before every shooting session.
If the tattoos are a road map, they lead to a specific destination. Despite the mystery built into the show and the lead character’s amnesia, Gero promises that answers will come in due time. “Each season should feel like a self-contained novel,” he promised.
Berlanti warned, however, that all information doled out to viewers should be taken with a grain of salt. “The way that she was [brain]washed, are these fantasies,” said Berlanti. Even Jane Doe’s recollections in the show are subject to false clues.
Berlanti and Gero said that memories will come back to Jane Doe over the first few episodes and that all the characters in the show have very rich backstories. The question of identity, however, runs through the whole show. “Who you are in the past, does that define who you are now?” asked Gero.
“That’s all Jane has — gut instinct,” said Alexander. “She really doesn’t have a past. I’ve been told a few things, but I still haven’t been told exactly who she was.”
As an actor, Alexander could also relate to Jane’s physicality. “I do a lot of action stuff. I like swinging a sword, don’t get me wrong, and I love some of the other things that I’ve done, but I really haven’t had an opportunity to do something like this,” she said. “This one is straight up hand-to-hand combat.” Alexander finds the fighting realistic and trains with Navy SEALs.
Among the people that Alexander fights is her on-screen partner, Kurt Weller (Stapleton). Although the Australian actor dwarves Alexander, she learned to put her weight behind the punch and move the bigger man. The relationship between the two, however, extends far past sparring and Berlanti said their interpersonal dynamic will continue to evolve, but never quite be what it seems.
We will see Doe get her memory back “in fits and starts, but we don’t even know how accurate that is,” said Berlanti. “Memory is such an interesting and complex thing to begin with, in terms of its accuracy.” The mystery will continue throughout the season. “Questions are probably more interesting to me.”
“Blindspot” premieres September 21st on NBC.
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