How does Krysten Ritter find the time? In addition to working on Netflix’s Marvel outings Jessica Jones and The Defenders for 12 months straight, she’s also managed to juggle careers as a novelist (her debut, Bonfire, came out last year); a producer (her company, Silent Machine, just landed a pilot order); and — perhaps most important — a professional knitter (peep this infinity scarf). Ahead of Jessica Jones season two, which premieres this Thursday, Vulture caught up with Ritter to talk about the benefits of exhaustion, her thoughts on a Defenders sequel, and the fight-choreography mishap that almost took her tongue off.
I have to ask, did I spy you wearing a Krysten Ritter–knitted sweater in the first episode of the new season? A friend of mine who’s a fan said the pattern looked familiar.
I wish! No. Here’s the thing: I would have to work really hard, because we need seven of everything that I wear. I think it’s seven. It’s me, my stand-in, my stunt double, a backup, and then a larger size and a smaller size. But there’s just too many. I did not, unfortunately, but maybe [co-star] Rachael [Taylor] ends up wearing something. I always try to get a piece of mine in the show. If we do a season three, I will 100 percent try to get that thing in the show.
Your knitting fills a lot of your Instagram these days.
Yeah, I love it. Honestly, I’d rather be knitting than doing most things. I love it. I like creating something with my hands, and it’s also something that I can do anywhere while I’m doing all of my other side hustles. Y’know, I’ve got a lot of shit going on, and it’s just one of those things that I love to do.
Do you go back and watch old episodes of Jessica Jones or The Defenders? Do you ever do sort of a …
No, no. I’m good. [Laughs.] I saw the first season, for sure, and I was proud of it. But I don’t go back to it and watch it. In fact, I was at a girlfriend’s house the other day and they got one of these new TVs that’s super thin to the wall and they’re like, “Krysten, check out our new TV!” and they just randomly put on Jessica Jones episode 13 and it was HD and I was like, “I can’t fucking watch this. I can’t.” [Laughs.] It made me so uncomfortable. It makes me not want to act ever again. Whatever. You learn from it, but I’m not, like, going back and studying it or anything. I haven’t even seen this season yet.
What did you make of the critical response to The Defenders?
Well, I think Jessica was pretty well received. People were excited to see her again, so that made us happy because Jessica is the next up. Y’know, I had a great time doing The Defenders and honestly, it was such a good experience that I would even do it again. I don’t think we are doing it again. It was never intentioned to do it again, but, you know, if I was given another opportunity, I would. My heart is with my show because of the subject matter and because of the great drama that we get to do and the personal issues that we explore. For me, that is more the type of content that I enjoy as a viewer and as a performer. My heart is in Jessica Jones, but I did have a great time doing The Defenders with the guys. We had a good time. It is what it is.
You started shooting this season right after finishing The Defenders. Does the exhaustion help on some level?
One hundred percent. Yes. It’s the exhaustion that you then put in the character. And you’re right, I did just go straight from The Defenders right into Jessica. But what happens is, you just get a little bit better at bouncing back. In season one, I got really depressed because it’s a very dark headspace. We’re dealing with really dark issues and it can weigh on you. Once you’re acting every single day for 12 months like I just did, you get better at bouncing back. It gets easier to access things. You can flip in and out of things. It’s like a muscle. The more you’re working out your muscles, the stronger they get.
Your showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg, decided to have an all-female directing crew this time around. Did that make for a different acting experience?
Yeah, totally. I will say our first season was also … S.J. Clarkson did our pilot and episode two and we had frequent female directors, and our show is run by Mel, so I didn’t feel a huge difference. I will say that when guest stars come in, a lot of people comment on our set. About how our vibe is so different. Or our set feels so feminine or so female because the energy is really positive. Mel and I are all fire, heart, and passion. That translates and you feel that. There’s no ego stuff, there’s no infighting. It’s a really positive, warm set. When I have to be more vulnerable or the subject matter is more uncomfortable, I definitely feel more comfortable talking to a woman about that stuff that I do with a dude. Like technical sex scenes. [Laughs.] Those are way easier! “Okay, this is what you’re going to be wearing, this is what you’re going to do.” There’s a comfortability there when you have to vulnerable, that I prefer to have those conversations with women.
Did you have any mishaps doing fight choreography?
Yes, all the time. Unfortunately, it’s a numbers game at a certain point. When you’re working for 12 months straight, you’re doing so many stunts, of course you’re bound to have some accidents. One wrong move or one wrong step and you’re going to hurt yourself. I punched somebody by accident. I was a few inches off my mark and he wasn’t wearing a pad on his chest and the guy was built like a tank, so then my knuckles blew up and swelled up. It looked worse than it actually was. Another time, I basically got punched in the chin. I bit almost through my tongue.
Oh my God!
Yeah, it was awful. That was in the early episodes of this season. It was just one wrong move — a guy went to push me or pick me up and I got his shoulder under my jaw and I totally saw stars. What really fucked me up was the blood, because I had bit my tongue so bad that I thought it was worse than it was. But your tongue heals really fast. You couldn’t see it, there was no damage to my face, so I kept working. [Laughs.] But, yeah, there’s a lot of bruises. A lot of bruised knees from flying around. Now I know anytime you have to do anything, just put the knee pads on. Even if it’s just, like, grabbing something that fell. Just put the knee pads on! Anything can happen! I have so many photos where my elbows and knees are so bruised. I wear it like a badge of honor.
One of the most beloved figures among the Jessica Jones fandom is Eka Darville, who plays Malcolm. Is he as adorable in real life as he is in the show?
Oh my God, he is so edible. He’s heaven. And he’s such a good guy. I love him. He is great on the show this year. He has a bigger story line, we get to see him with Jessica more. He, in real life, is just a doll. Total hippie. Lives in Venice with his beautiful children and his beautiful wife. He’s one of my favorite human beings.
What does one talk about with Carrie-Anne Moss when the cameras aren’t rolling?
We talk about essential oils. We talk about all the New Age, cutting-edge wellness tools. We talk about feelings and how to run your household. She is a yoga teacher. She teaches Kundalini yoga. She has a book, she has something called the Fierce Grace Collective, which is like a portal for women and self-help. She’s, like, on another level. So there’s tons to talk about. Sometimes when we’re on set together, it’ll be like, You’ve got to pull us apart.
She’s your guru.
She is. Everything in my life that has helped me is all from her.
I have a terrible social-media addiction, and you’re one of the best Instagram accounts I follow. How do you keep yourself from being completely Instagram addicted?
I’ve been using it recently because now we’re gearing up to promote Jessica Jones, so I start to gear up, but I didn’t even look at it the whole December and January. I knit, so having other things to do besides getting into an Instagram hole, I think is really helpful. I meditate and I knit. Anything to get you off your phone for a few minutes. You should start meditating. Get off it.
I do meditate! I just went on a silent meditation retreat a few months ago.
Oh, really? Where?
In Connecticut. I went to a Jewish silent meditation retreat, if you can believe that such a thing exists.
I can believe that they exist. How long was it?
It was for a week.
I didn’t do anything other than meditate and pray for a week. It’s hard to keep the practice up, but I’m trying. Making the time to sit and do nothing is surprisingly difficult.
I know! And then if you go to a meditation class … I go to Mindful, or in L.A., I go to the Den. It’s expensive. I’m like, I just paid $25 to just sit there for 30 minutes and not be on my phone.
You mentioned your side hustles earlier. What are you working on right now?
I’m cooking up some stuff. My company, Silent Machine, got a pilot green-lit at Pop Network, so we just shot that and we’re in the edit now. So, fingers crossed that we will get to go to series. That’s a comedy and we have a great cast put together. I’m working on some new knitting designs. I’ve got a few other things up my sleeve. I’m doing also the press tour for Jessica Jones, like, starting now. Pretty full-on for the next couple of weeks. And then I may — I may take a vacation. [Laughs.]
Where would you go off to?
I don’t know! I don’t know. I’ve been Googling a lot. I’ve been doing a lot of research. They say that researching a vacation releases the same endorphins as actually going on the vacation, so right now I’m just enjoying looking at the pictures of people on the beach.
Might another novel be in the offing at some point?
I hope so, yeah. I’ve been working on an idea. Y’know, novels take a hundred years. So, I hope so. I hope so. I really loved Bonfire. Then, of course, I’ll start promoting that again for the paperback. I hope I have time to do it! We’ll see.
I don’t know how you juggle all of this stuff. I barely get my one job done and here you are, making us all look bad.
I mean, I’m a pretty hard-core person. [Laughs.] When I get into something, I go pretty ham. But I’m tired, if that makes you feel any better.
This interview has been edited and condensed.