Carrie-Anne Moss became a household name thanks to her turn as Trinity, the action hero kicking ass and taking names in “The Matrix” trilogy. But for her role in Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” series on Netflix, she was happy to do her battling in the courtroom — though she admits she might welcome a few more fight scenes if/when she returns for more Marvel work.
Playing the high-powered attorney Jeri Hogarth — a gender-swapped take on the venerable Iron Fist supporting character Jeryn Hogarth — Moss was given her fair share of dramatic scenes. From wrangling Krysten Ritter’s brooding and sarcastic P.I. to navigating a very messy divorce from her wife while managing the expectations of her assistant-turned-girlfriend, Hogarth’s life was no less dramatic than Jessica’s, if a little less superpower-fueled.
But despite trading in her action hero bonafides for a turn as a take-no-prisoners attorney, Moss tells CBR News she quickly found herself hooked on the role — though she wouldn’t say no if a little more action came her way.
CBR News: How did you find yourself involved with the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Carrie-Anne Moss: I had met with Marvel about a year ago, before we shot the show, and I sort of had a general meeting with them. And then, they called me — Jeph Loeb, who’s the head of Marvel [Television] — I got a message that he wanted to talk to me, and we talked on the phone. He pitched me the idea of the show and the character, and then I talked to Melissa Rosenberg, who is the showrunner and the main writer for the show.
Then, they sent me a script. I read the first script, and I thought it was so good. I thought the quality of the show, all of the people that were coming together to make it — because you never know if things are going to turn out great or not, but when all of the pieces of it are high quality, it had a really good chance of it being great. It was really easy to say yes to that.
I loved the idea of the character. I didn’t know a lot about her; they told me some things about her, and sort of a little bit of her journey, but I’m getting to know the character as I’m shooting, because every episode, I’m learning more about her. They’re not telling me ahead of time because they’re pretty secretive about their scripts, so we’re getting them literally the week before we’re shooting them, sometimes three or four days before we’re shooting them.
They gave you some pretty rich and interesting material to play throughout the season. Did you know that you would get something that fun and juicy?
I knew it. I knew that it was going to be fun, and that it was going to have a lot of different colors to it. I wasn’t exactly sure that it was going into the direction that it goes. I knew it was all building up to something that I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be. But that was kind of fun.
I think when you’re working with creative people that you can trust, then you can really relax into that. You can trust that it’s all going to make sense. One of the things that the show has going for it in such a strong way is that each of the scripts really ties together these really intricate plot points and character points that all make sense. You know what an intricate dance it took the writers to do that, and that’s impressive to me. I wouldn’t know how to do that.
Obviously, there was a gender switch from the Jeryn of the comics to your Jeri. Did you look at the comics at all, or simply go with what was on the scripted page?
I really relied on what Melissa gave me. I did look — I mean, I looked it up a little bit, but because the story was so radically different and what was created for me, I really trusted that I could find her. That I wasn’t bringing to life this super-known character, that I had some freedom there.
What was the main appeal for you of the character, the aspect that you really got into?
I loved the strength she has as a person, and the way she doesn’t really get taken off of her game very easily, it’s fun. I loved my scenes with Krysten, because she’s really one of the only characters or people in Jessica’s life that challenges her and comes toe to toe with her. There is this sort of banter between the two of them that was quite fun to play. It always made me smile, and even if it would frustrate my character, the Hogarth character, it still was very fun to play that tennis game with her.
What really made this project stand out was the amount of reality given to these female characters.
Well, I think it really does come down to the writing, because [Melissa] wrote these characters — if you look at Jessica Jones, she’s such a complicated character, but we’re never spoon-fed her story. It unfolds, and we’re told in this really — some of it is done in flashbacks. Krysten’s acting — she’s such a fantastic actress, and she just gives it all to us.
Her relationship with Trish and how complicated and how much they care about each other, I don’t know if we’ve ever seen that kind of a relationship [on television]. And then you’re realizing that Jessica’s protected her all these years. I mean, it’s just so complicated, and it’s never, ever cliche. I love that.
[It’s] the same way, I think, with all of the relationships really. The Hope character — you really genuinely just care so much about that young woman who’s just going through a living hell, and it’s just getting worse and worse and worse for her. You’re just hoping that she’s going to be okay, but you can’t even imagine how it could be okay. You just really invest yourself in the characters, and I think that really starts, absolutely, with the writing.
The appetite for a female hero was clearly there. You were at the forefront of female action heroes a while back. What’s it like to see the environment finally expanding?
I guess I never looked at it like a lack-minded thing. Like, “Oh, there isn’t many of us.” I didn’t really see it that way. I mean, I saw it as a total opportunity when I got that role and to be part of that movie because it was such a powerful movie, and the character was so amazing to play. But it’s never been my plight to be like, “We need more women doing this.” That’s never been my passion. Not to say that I don’t see that, but it wasn’t something I really thought about a lot.
I mean, at the time that I got “The Matrix” I never thought in a million years I would get the part. Not because there weren’t very many great roles, but because I was not successful at all. For me to get that part was amazing, I was so lucky to get it. And so, to see it evolve and to see a part like this that Krysten is playing that people are responding the way that they’re responding, I’m totally not surprised. It’s not like, “Oh, finally.” I don’t feel like, “Oh, finally.” I feel like, “Well, of course.” Of course, people want to see that. People want to see all kinds of people. I’m not saying that that’s not present, but it’s really what I’m hooked into, if that makes sense.
Because you know your way around fight and stunt choreography, was it more fun to play a civilian in “Jessica Jones,” or were you like, “Can I get a little more action?”
It’s funny, because I kind of have one sort of action-y kind of scene, and I didn’t think that I needed to do anything more. But now that I’ve watched the whole season and everything, it’s like, “Oh, if it goes another season, [Laughs] maybe I can get in some fighting.” I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, because it’s hard, but I wouldn’t mind. Which is, I have to say, it is pretty surprising to me that I feel that way.
Absolutely. I mean, how fun, just to explore that. It’s infinite. The possibilities are just so massive. I think it’s such an exciting time for me, right now, to be in this show and to be a part of the Marvel world. I’m just all in, you know.
I know Marvel has their secrecy policies…
I don’t know anything, but I can see the possibility. At the same time, I don’t have any expectation, either. But I think the possibility is exciting, and we’ll just sort of see how it turns out. I’m excited. I hope to be able to play this character, and to play her more and find more about her.
Obviously, it’s good business to be in business with Marvel, but creatively, what gave you that sense of confidence to go with them when there are so many factors with the secrecy?
I felt it right away, since I read that first script, and I saw the quality of the writing. And then, I put the Melissa Rosenberg equation in, and I put the Krysten Ritter equation in. Then I put the David Tennant equation in. And the Marvel and the Jeph Loeb equation in. And I think to myself, these people know what they’re doing. You never know when you do something how it’s going to turn out. You have no power over that. But I was pretty sure that they were going to make something great. It turned out even better than I could have imagined, but I thought, all these players are top notch.
You could feel the excitement for the show as it was finally being viewed. Did you keep an eye on social media and gauge the reaction as it first hit the audience?
Well, we got to — leading up to it, the press had already seen more episodes than I had seen. I had only seen two, so a lot of them had seen six and eight episodes. Journalist after journalist, talking to them and having them completely blown away by it, I mean, I thought it was good. But I’d only seen the first two.
I knew it was good. I knew Krysten was just amazing, and David Tennant, Rachael [Taylor], all the actors. But as I was listening to the journalists and the questions that they were asking, I could see that it all came together. And then, as it was happening, you get sent kind of different articles or different ideas or different things.
So yeah, I was keeping my — it’s unusual to be on a Netflix show, because on a network show, we would have our numbers. We would know how well we did, and you don’t know any of that. You’re just getting it from what people are saying when you drop your kids off at school. If somebody’s doing a review of it, or somebody’s writing on Instagram, #JessicaJonesI’mMissingWorkToday. I don’t think I really even know if I understand how much people might have enjoyed it yet, but I definitely know that I did — and I think I’m a pretty good gauge.
We’re in an era of Hollywood franchise mania, and I’m sure that somewhere someone is thinking the “The Matrix” could be a part of that. Would you be intrigued — if the right people were involved — to revisit that?
Of course, of course. I can’t imagine that ever happening, but of course. But I don’t really see it happening.
It was a pretty definitive conclusion.
I think so, yeah — you never know!
“Jessica Jones” Season One is now streaming on Netflix.
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