Not My Job: We Quiz 'Jessica Jones' Star Krysten Ritter On People Named Jones
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we invite people we like on to talk about things they may not care for. It's called Not My Job. Krysten Ritter got discovered as a model at a shopping mall years ago and then as an actress at an audition for a commercial. She went on to play Jane in "Breaking Bad" and the sullen superhero Jessica Jones on Netflix. She has written a new novel, "Bonfire," which is out now. And she joins us now. Krysten Ritter, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SAGAL: So first things first - is that true - that you were discovered at a shopping mall in your - near your home in Pennsylvania?
KRYSTEN RITTER: Yeah, I was. My mom and I were very surprised. I think it was front of a Payless store.
RITTER: And then they ended up bringing me to New York shortly after that, chopping all my hair off to a pixie cut and putting me in some high heels, which I took off immediately when they weren't looking, and sent me to a bunch of appointments. So that's kind of - was my first exposure to the world. I'm from a farm in Pennsylvania. It was a total whirlwind.
SAGAL: Well, I wanted to talk to you about where you're from because I've been reading your novel "Bonfire," which is really good. And it's about a young woman, and she comes back to her small town, where she grew up, after moving away to the big city. And...
SAGAL: And I guess what I'm - is there anybody, like, back in your small town in Pennsylvania who you really don't want to read this book?
RITTER: No, not at all. I hope that they do read the book. And my sister's read it. And she'll look at parts and be like, oh, that sounds just like blah, blah, blah we would go to. And I'm like, yeah, I used it. Exactly.
SAGAL: I do want to talk to you about "Jessica Jones," which is probably my favorite TV show - well, if not ever, certainly in the last few years - for people who weren't lucky enough to watch it - and you can. It's on Netflix - could you describe the character of Jessica Jones?
RITTER: Yeah. So Jessica Jones is a hard-drinking PI, a reluctant superhero with powers. She is a total badass with no filter. She is dark and brooding and sassy and physically very strong.
SAGAL: I did not read the comics, so I'm just basing in the TV show. My understanding is that her superpowers are super strength and sarcasm.
RITTER: Yeah. That sums it up. She can also sort of fly/jump really far.
SAGAL: Yeah, that's cool. So in a typical scene, for example, she's having a very intense, dramatic, even dangerous scene with an antagonist. But, like, right in the middle, she can open a pickle jar with no problem at all. That's like...
RITTER: Correct. Yeah. And she was, like, a big drinker - lots of profanity, sex scenes, really dark. It was almost like, you know, in your career, you always want to do, like, that dark, cool indie movie where you're walking around, looking cool and wearing a leather jacket. And then it was like, oh, this is, like, all my dreams come true and, like, on a global platform.
SAGAL: Right. What is it like - because I know you've done the whole Comic-Con thing - what is it like dealing with all the comic book nerds?
RITTER: It's awesome. I mean, there's such a huge fanbase that's built in when you're in the Marvel world. And it's really exciting to see people embracing this female character because it's mostly the boys' club. It's all dudes. And then to see women coming out and everyone dressing up like Jessica and just loving it and celebrating her and this image...
SAGAL: Right. And so you go to the Comic-Con, and you talk to all these guys who are big fans. What's it like to talk to so many men who were speaking to a woman for the first time in their lives?
RITTER: Honestly, a lot of them asked me to, like, punch them. It was just a weird...
SAGAL: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
FAITH SALIE: What?
SAGAL: So these guys are coming up to you and asking you to punch them?
RITTER: Punch them or, like, pose a photo where I'm arm wrestling them and beating them. Like, they're - like, they love it. They love it.
BIM ADEWUNMI: If you ever need a break, Krysten, my fists are available for punching.
RITTER: That's funny.
PETER GROSZ: That's very funny.
SAGAL: I know you from "Breaking Bad" primarily and, of course, "Jessica Jones." "Breaking Bad" - you play Jane, who is this troubled drug addict who ended up playing a significant role in the show and this. And you starred in a TV show called "Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23," B standing...
SAGAL: Yeah. People love that.
SAGAL: I just - I know a lot of actors and actresses who get - who always play the good guys. And they're always like, oh, I wish I could play somebody with an edge. Do you ever wish that you could play, like, the sweet, young girl from the small town?
RITTER: Absolutely not.
SAGAL: No. All right.
SALIE: But in real...
RITTER: I will tell you I have way more fun being bad and being edgy or being a villain or, you know, getting into trouble.
SALIE: Krysten, you're an avid knitter, right?
SALIE: What is the most - what's the coolest or or most unusual thing you've knit?
RITTER: Well, I don't know about unusual, but you name it - I've knit it (laughter). I've done like baskets to hold my yarn. I've done - made hats and sweaters for everyone I know, including my boyfriend. For my dog, I made (unintelligible). I make different - I make sweaters a lot. I really like making sweaters.
SAGAL: A lot of times, actors' habits get into their roles. Like, Nick Offerman's woodworking got into "Parks And Rec." Have they ever thought of, like, having Jessica Jones knitting something...
SAGAL: ...Knitting something really bitterly and then stabbing a bad guy with a needle?
RITTER: I mean, that would be so ridiculous that I don't know if they would ever go there. But I would - I do knit on set. I don't have a lot of downtime on "Jessica Jones." So I'll be working on, like, the same project the whole run of the season.
RITTER: But everyone gets a kick out of seeing me in, like, my badass clothes, like, curled up in my little granny chair, like, knitting. They think that's pretty funny.
ADEWUNMI: That's a great photo of you with Matt Murdock, who plays Daredevil. And did you teach him how to knit?
RITTER: Yes, I sure did. And Charlie - he's one of my best friends. I adore him.
SAGAL: This is, of course - is the spinoff series "The Defenders" where it's you and three other superheroes - like, you and Charlie and Mike Colter. And so you're all - I just imagine all four superheroes sitting around, knitting.
RITTER: Well, Charlie and I were knitting. Mike Colter would be just standing around, making fun of Charlie for the fact that I taught him how to knit. Mike would be like, I can't believe you let her do this to you, buddy (laughter).
SALIE: Does your dog like the sweaters? Like, do you have, like, 15?
RITTER: Oh, yeah.
SALIE: Oh, yeah?
RITTER: Yeah, totally. He likes them. My dog is so mellow and just loves, to, like, be with me. He lets me, like, put whatever I want on him. I don't dress him up all the time. I'm not, like, a total, like, crazy dog person - maybe a little bit. But...
GROSZ: She should buy a comfort turkey and knit, like, a...
SAGAL: Yeah, I know.
GROSZ: ...Little thing for the turkey.
SAGAL: Well, Krysten Ritter, we've invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Keeping Up With The Other Joneses.
SAGAL: So your fans might think that your character Jessica Jones is the only Jones there is in the world. But it turns out - they may not know this - Jones is a very common name.
SAGAL: So we're going to ask you about three other very interesting Joneses. Answer two of them correctly - you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they might like on this show and their voicemail. Bill, who is Krysten Ritter playing for?
KURTIS: Sean Burton of Hillsboro, Ore.
SAGAL: All right. You ready, Krysten?
SAGAL: All right. Here's your first Jones. Your first question is about James Earl Jones, the great actor. In addition to his illustrious career in theater and film, he also did what as a hobby? A, masters competition figure skating; B, entering and winning James Earl Jones imitation contests...
SAGAL: ...Or C, traveling cross country using his CB radio to talk to truck drivers in his Darth Vader voice?
RITTER: OK. I can't see James Earl Jones doing any of those things, so I'm going to go with C, traveling across and talking to people with a CB radio as Darth Vader.
SAGAL: You do have superpowers. That is correct.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Now, to be clear...
SAGAL: ...He said he only did it once because, quote, "the truck drivers would really freak out."
SAGAL: As you can imagine. All right. That was very good. Here's your second question. There is an Australian racecar driver quite legendary in the sport named Alan Jones. His first major win at a Grand Prix in 1977 was particularly memorable. Why? Was it A, the race organizers did not have a version of the Australian national anthem to play, so, instead, a drunk person played "Happy Birthday" on a trumpet...
SAGAL: ...B, he's the first person to ever win a Grand Prix with a blood alcohol level of .13 or C, his car broke down in the final laps, so he finished the race in a borrowed 1974 Gremlin?
RITTER: OK. I'm going to go with the singing "Happy Birthday" instead of the national anthem - right?
SAGAL: You're right. Yes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Of course you are.
SAGAL: His win was such a surprise to the hosts that they didn't have a copy of the Australian anthem handy, but they did have a drunk guy with a trumpet and went with that.
SAGAL: All right. Last question. Country music legend George Jones lived pretty hard, as evidenced by which of these? A, he once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die...
SAGAL: ...Recorded it on VHS just to watch him die again...
SAGAL: ...B, he was known for his habit of making coffee by chewing up whole beans and pouring hot water directly into his mouth...
SAGAL: ...Or C, After his wife took away his car keys for drunk driving, he drove a riding lawnmower 8 miles to get himself a bottle of liquor.
RITTER: Wait a minute. OK.
RITTER: OK. I'm going to go with C, the riding mower for the liquor.
SAGAL: You're right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
RITTER: Oh, yeah.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Krysten Ritter do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Krysten nailed it. She got all three right. Good going.
SAGAL: Krysten Ritter is an actress. She's the star of "Jessica Jones" on Netflix, which - I'm delighted to tell you the second season will be coming out in March. And she is the author of the new novel "Bonfire." It's out now. Krysten Ritter, thank you so much for joining us. An absolute pleasure.
RITTER: Thank you so much.
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill encourages you to breathe. Come on, breathe. Now push. It's a limerick. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air.
SAGAL: We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
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