Carrie-Anne Moss’ Jeri Hogarth is one of the most dynamic and fascinating characters in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. She’s been a Jessica Jones fixture since season one when she was introduced as a very dangerous antihero in her own right, using her shrewd legal mind instead of her fists to lay the proverbial smackdown on anyone careless enough to cross her.
But in the show’s third and final season, Hogarth is facing off against an enemy that no amount of money or legal manoeuvring can truly help her defeat. In the months since she’s been diagnosed with ALS, she’s been forced to accept the reality that, in time, her body will fail her, and she’ll have to rely on people in ways she swore she never would.
When I recently spoke with Moss about who Jeri is as the new season of Jessica Jones opens, she explained that for obvious reasons, she’s scared about the future, but that fear is what’s ultimately going to make Jeri that much more of a formidable presence.
io9: Talk to me about where Jeri’s at, mentally, when we catch up with her in season three. How has she changed as a person now that her ALS is progressing, and what’s really driving her forward?
Carrie-Ann Moss: You know, this new position she finds herself in makes her vulnerable in a way she’s never felt before. She’s someone who is always in control and to not be in control has been one of the biggest challenges that’s come with her diagnosis. This season starts off with her really, really not being able to handle the situation she’s been presented with. But it’s Jeri, and so she keeps trying to find a way through it. But this is Jeri, and she’s only changed but so much. She’s still manipulative and trying to find a way to win. Part of what’s been so interesting about playing her is that nothing is ever too much for Jeri.
io9: There’s something to be said for the lethality that being vulnerable can bring out in people, especially like Jeri. For Jeri, what does vulnerability look like this season? We see that she’s having more physical difficulties, but in those moments when you’ve got to step into her mind, what does “vulnerability” feel like?
Moss: The thing about Jeri is that, her instinctive response to feeling vulnerable—to lash out—comes from the same place that her manipulative side comes from, and from the outside, vulnerable Jeri and manipulative Jeri are the same person, but they aren’t, exactly, and even Jeri herself might not understand that. When no one is there and you see Jeri alone, I think that’s the truth of who she is. If there’s another person in the room that she needs something from, or that she believes can be useful, though, she shifts into that conniving space.
She will play whoever she has to play to achieve her goals, even people she thinks she cares about, like Jessica, because at the end of the day, Jeri’s narcissism is still such a big part of who she is.
io9: Jeri’s always had that ruthless cutthroat energy to her that she applies to all aspects of her life, but I’m curious about how her sense of justice has changed because of relationships with people like Malcolm, Jessica, and with the larger world of vigilantism?
Moss: You know, it’s interesting. I haven’t really considered that.
io9: Jeri’s always been willing to do bend the rules in order to get what she wants, and she sees herself as a just person, I think. But now there are more and more of these people like Jessica and Trish who are living lives similar to Jeri’s, not necessarily through the legal system, but these empowered people who are going out and using their abilities to change the world as they see fit. How, in your mind, do you think Jeri’s worldview has changed because of the rise of these people who are redefining what “justice” looks like in the city?
Moss: Ah. I think Jeri’s fighting for her relevancy. Not just to stay in business, but to stay alive, and to maintain a sense of that grasp on the concept of justice that you’re talking about. But you’re right, things are changing. Right now, Jeri’s alone more than anything else. Completely alone. She has every materialistic need met, but she’s still alone. And so I think if anything, what’s changed is her understanding that she needs to continue to prove, to herself and the outside world, how powerful she is at a time when she’s losing everything, and that does creep into the way she differentiates between right and wrong. She’s too proud and egotistical to even entertain the idea of being seen as weak, and if that means she’s got to get her hands dirty, then so be it.
io9: Jeri’s one of the few queer characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be given the time and space to become a fully realised person. What’s been the most important thing that you’ve wanted to bring to your performance?
Moss: For me really, it’s about playing the humanity and not the idea of her character. I’m playing her truth, to the best of my ability, and never wanted to fall back on any kinds of stereotypes or generalities.
io9: I’m curious—we see a lot more of Jeri dealing with the progression of her ALS this season and how it’s beginning to have a impact on her physicality. Did you speak with anyone living with ALS, in preparation for how you wanted to go about portraying a person with the condition?
Moss: Actually, while we were working, someone that I knew was diagnosed with ALS, and...it’s stuck with me. While I didn’t sit down with anyone in person, I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching different people with ALS speak about their lives and their journeys, and I just wanted to learn from them. There’s a married couple who I’d been following for a very long time—his name is Steve and her name is Hope—and he has ALS, I’ve reached out to them a couple of times over the years, I watched their documentary about their lives and relationships in order to get a sense of the scale of what Jeri might one day be dealing with. Jeri’s ALS scares her, but she’s fighting, because that’s who she is.
io9: It’s interesting that you bring that up. This might sound kind of random, but with Jeri contemplating whether an IGH treatment might cure her condition last season, it seemed like Jessica Jones might have been toying with the idea of turning Jeri into the MCU’s She-Hulk.
io9: Yeah, you know she’s green, strong, hangs out with Jessica a lot when she isn’t in the courtroom. Would you be open to playing a character like that in the future?
Moss: I mean, maybe! I just don’t know who she is.
Jessica Jones season three premieres tonight.