Carrie-Anne Moss has played a lot of powerful, competent, very nerd-friendly women in her career, from the reality-bending Trinity in “The Matrix” to the fierce Aria T’Loak in the “Mass Effect” video game series. So it’s no surprise that she’s continuing the trend in Marvel’s latest superhero show, “Jessica Jones,” as Jeri Hogarth, the manipulative, no-nonsense lawyer who hires Jessica (Krysten Ritter) for her private investigation skills.
If that name sounds vaguely familiar to hardcore comic book fans, it’s because it’s a an adaptation of an already existing character in Marvel lore: Jeryn Hogarth, who legally represents Iron Fist and Luke Cage’s “Heroes For Hire” business. Of course, the version of Hogarth that exists in “Jessica Jones” is not than the one you remember, the most obvious difference being that she is now a woman — although the gender-swap isn’t something that actress Carrie-Anne Moss herself really noticed.
“I think that was sort of an after-thought that didn’t really influence me at all, the fact that the name was a male name,” Moss admitted to MTV News. “I think more interesting to me is that I’m playing the first lesbian character in Marvel — although we have so much diversity in television so it’s not really that big a deal, but its always fun to play something that’s the first of something. Whether that has value or not, I don’t know. But I just love my role, I love the show, it’s been so fun to do.”
The character’s sexual identity isn’t just lip service to fans who’ve demanded more LGBT representation, either; her own romantic relationships are just as prominent and powerful as those of heterosexual couples on the show (although they certainly don’t define her, which is always a concern when depicting often marginalized characters). And in exploring Hogarth’s personal life, “Jessica Jones” gives us something that’s even rarer than same-gender couples are on television: a divorce between a same-gender couple.
“Often what I’m depicting is shown with men all the time: the older man leaving his long term partner for somebody young and hot,” she said (and to buy into the trope even further, the “somebody young” is Jeri Hogarth’s legal secretary). “And that’s what Geri is all about. In a big part of her storyline is this relationship that she has with this young woman, and her letting go of a long term marriage. So I liked that she’s so strong and everything, but at the same time, you know of see what a mess her personal life is.”
Hogarth also spends a lot of time fighting against Jessica’s less-than-legal tactics for stopping the villainous Kilgrave (played by David Tennant), and throughout the series their relationship is often tense, not just professionally but almost sexually at times.
“There’s this bad flirtation, you know? Like when you just — when somebody ruffles you so much that you get offended easily and that kind of banter happens, and a lot of time it’s the way people communicate,” she said. “It’s like, ’Why is that person ruffling me up?’ But I think we’re both powerful, we’re both strong… neither of us is going to go away, we’re both going to go toe to toe, eye to eye, and so that’s always fun.”
In addition to having the first open lesbian, “Jessica Jones” is also the first Marvel property to feature raw, explicit sex in it — and while Moss doesn’t have any explicit sex scenes herself (“I have some sexy scenes but I don’t have any sex scenes,” as she puts it), she praises the way that the show is able to depict these scenes so realistically, and as empowering as they are.
“We have a show runner is a woman and then one of our directors who kind of created the whole look of it is a woman, and I think it makes a difference,” she said. “It’s sort of subtle, but powerful at the same time.”
“[But] I don’t think it’s gender, I think it’s [show runner] Melissa Rosenberg,” she clarified. “She doesn’t exploit Jessica at all. Her femaleness in this character is never exploited within the show. She’s not there to titillate you, or to make you think she’s hot, or she’s sexy — and yet she is all those things, but from a very organic, natural part of who she is, not because she’s trying to be. So that’s a testament to Kristin too, just who she is and how she played it, because so often those kinds of characters are just sort of be super sexed up.”
So when the curtain closes on the final “Jessica Jones” episode, will we see Hogarth again — perhaps in a second season, or in the upcoming “Luke Cage” or “Defenders” series? Moss is certainly open to it, although she can’t say for sure.
“I think there so much opportunity which I just feel would be so much fun to explore her in all different settings, but I have no idea,” she shrugged. “No one’s telling me much, so I kind of just do my life, and then I hope on a plane and come to New York and enjoy it and work here.”