Krysten Ritter has been one of the most prolific TV stars of the past decade. From small but vital roles in shows like ‘Breaking Bad,’ to leading character work in ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones,’ Ritter has developed a knack for appearing in buzzworthy shows. We sat down with the actress to discuss everything from Marvel to how she grew up on a farm.
1. You grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, an upbringing that seems like it’d be the exact opposite of what you do now. How’d you get into acting with that kind of background?
The two are actually more similar than you’d think, because in a way, a good farmer is always acting. If you want your animals to trust you, you need to keep the fact that you’re profiting off of them a complete secret. So whether that means pretending to be as equally upset as the chickens when they find out their eggs have gone missing, or furiously wailing along with the cows when they wake up and see their calves being dragged into the veal shed by the hind leg, you do whatever it takes to keep the animals thinking that you’re on their side. Looking back, I couldn’t have asked for better training.
2. Your first acting job was in a Dr. Pepper commercial. Did you ever think you’d become a leading lady?
Oh, not at all, I expected I’d die later that afternoon from inhaling so much Dr. Pepper. They made me breathe in 2,000 gallons of the stuff as part of their “Dr. Pepper can replace air” campaign. I was submerged inside an aquarium filled with it and had to breathe it for hours to show it was possible. It was incredibly uncomfortable and I didn’t get paid, but hey, whatever it takes to get people to replace breathing air with Dr. Pepper.
3. Is it disappointing when a pilot that you star in doesn’t get picked up to series?
No, because then the network strips it for parts and sells it to stock-footage companies. When NBC passed on a show called Mission Control, they sold some of my scenes to Getty Images, and now anytime you Google “woman astronaut sarcastic gesture CBS chuck lorre studio audience canceled failed television show,” I’m the first thing that comes up.
4. What’s it been like playing a Marvel superhero?
It’s really an honor. When I was a little girl there weren’t female superheroes to look up to. All we had was the Morton salt girl. Boys at school would always play Batman at recess, while me and all the other girls would dump giant mounds of Morton salt on the playground, then lay down and make salt angels in it. The Morton salt girl was a terrible role model, but we had to make the most of what American culture offered girls in the way of inspiring figures back then.
5. Jessica Jones is part of a wave of socially conscious superhero media. Do you think superheroes are helping change the world?
If some dweeb needs a guy in spandex and a cape to tell him not to be racist, then maybe the world deserves to destroy itself. I mean, if there’s some kid out there who’s like, “Yeah, sexism and homophobia are the way to go,” and he changes his mind because of something the Incredible Hulk does, is that really all that inspiring? Nope. That’s fucking pathetic. Being a prejudiced piece of shit is terrible, but so is being a huge dork who needs content made for children to form his own opinions on how to treat other human beings with basic decency. Honestly, if Jessica Jones is the modern guardian of morality, it’s time to let the nukes fly, and I’ll gladly volunteer to be the one to press the “detonate” button.