David Tennant Talks ‘Jessica Jones’ and His Acting Process

David Tennant in Jessica Jones

“Within the small range of choice you have as an actor, I do tend toward things I haven’t done before.” – David Tennant

By now, most people will have heard of Jessica Jones. Marvel’s latest TV offering via Netflix stars Krysten Ritter in the titular role as the hard-hitting, hard-drinking detective. A former superhero, she gave up using her powers when the villainous Kilgrave used his mind control powers against her, forcing her to use her super-strength to commit evil acts.

The show is possibly the darkest turn Marvel has taken to date, and it is utterly sublime. Brilliant writing and direction combine with the most fantastic cast to deliver a truly gripping show. Of course, this being Netflix, we can binge-watch to our heart’s content; and we have.

David Tennant takes on the role of Kilgrave and he relishes the part, just as we relish every moment he is on the screen. Tennant is a huge talent and always seems to deliver whether on stage, the big screen or small. From the tenth incarnation of the Doctor in the BBC’s Doctor Who, to a bitter detective in Broadchurch (and its U.S remake, Gracepoint), Tennant is a real joy to watch.

“There wasn’t a massive amount of research I could do to play a mind-controlling psychopath,” says Tennant. “At first glance, Kilgrave’s power might sound attractive. But what would it really be like to live with?”

It must surely be this thought process; although relatively simple, which inspired such a gripping performance. Audiences are taken in easily by Kilgrave’s powers of persuasion, and then just as suddenly, repulsed by his hideous and barbaric acts. Then we veer back to feeling sorry for him again before reminding ourselves of how terrible he is.

In spite of this, Tennant insists there is no real method or process to his acting work. Growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, his dad was a minister and Tennant thinks that “Somehow, watching my father ‘perform’ must have inspired me.” It never occurred to him that “Trying to make a living as an actor is a bloody stupid idea,” and he went to drama school age 17, and has bee working since the age of 20. He wears a t-shirt with the slogan “Anybody Can Do What I Do” but really, can they?

“It’s a bit like wearing in a pair of shoes,” he explains. “You put them on your feet, and at first they squeak and hurt and you can’t really walk. But you LIKE these shoes, so you work away at it until the shoes feel comfortable. What am I saying?!”

On the subject of his success, Tennant is as humble as you might expect. He’s all too aware of how lucky his is to be working and says that he thinks of himself as one of those actors “Just waiting for someone to tap you on the shoulder and go, ‘Enough, man! We’ve all had a laugh. Now it’s time to stop pretending you’re any good at it.’ You exist in a constant sense that you’re balancing on some very shaky floorboards and at any time it’s going to collapse, and you’ll be left looking for a job at Starbucks.”

Tennant always takes on roles that vary greatly from one another; one minute he could be playing a harassed elementary school teacher in British Christmas movie Nativity 2, the next he’s on stage as Hamlet. From comedy to drama and everything in between, Tennant likes to keep himself on his toes as well as his fans.

“I’m very grateful,” he says. “Within the small range of choice you have as an actor, I do tend toward things I haven’t done before. My response is, ‘What an unusual thing to be asked to do! I should probably say yes to that.’ And I feel very lucky that, thus far, my spectrum of choice has been broad enough to keep things bubbling along.

“As an actor, you just want to keep joining the jobs up — and keep feeling a little scared.”

Via Daily American

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