Jaimie Alexander on being naked, tattooed and alone in Times Square for ‘Blindspot’
Thor’s best warrior, Jaimie Alexander, has a new project that involved being stuffed naked in a bag and discovered mind-wiped in Times Square. We chatted with Alexander about her new main gig uncovering the past in “Blindspot,” and also got a few details on Lady Sif’s new streetwear look in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Plus keep your eyes peeled in the new Captain America movie for even more “Thor: Ragnarok” teasers.
The whole premise of this series is you wake up in the middle of Times Square, in a bag, covered in tattoos, naked and alone, go...
You actually did a great job describing the opening sequence to “Blindspot.” It centers around a woman who has severe amnesia who has been tattooed from her neck to her toes. Her entire body is a body of clues. There is one specific tattoo on her back that is the name of the head FBI agent that she ends up coming in contact with. What that connection is and why she’s covered in tattoos, she has these extraordinary abilities, it’s a pretty wild ride.
One of the hardest things about playing a character with amnesia is finding a way to connect that character to the audience. How do you guys go about doing this in “Blindspot”?
It all starts with emotion and human connection. And whether or not she had the tattoos, she has literally been through something horrific and traumatic. I think everybody can sort of relate to feeling like the outcast, and feeling a bit lost and just craving somebody’s attention. It’s actually very relatable. It’s heightened circumstances, but it’s extremely relatable. And I think since we’ve kept it so based in reality the audience will definitely relate to all the characters on the show.
How big are the tattoos related to her overall character arc versus the week-to-week series?
The tattoos are just an amazing way to get these extraordinary episodes throughout the season. But again it’s very balanced with what’s going on internally, as though the tattoos weren’t there.
The problems seem very serious -- you’re dabbling with terrorism (finding a bag in the middle of Times Square). But do you find moments for lightness in your character?
Oh, there’s going to be a little bit of that.
How do you go about finding what she likes and what she finds funny?
That’s the fun thing about it, for me, because I actually don’t know too much about Jane. As an actor I kind of get to invent, as I go, certain things. There’s these great scenes in the pilot where Kurt Weller the FBI agent, who’s played by Sullivan Stapleton, he comes to her and says, “You should get you something to eat, we’ll get you some menus and you can pick out what you like.” She says, “I don’t know what I like.” Just something that simple, it stops him because she wouldn’t know, “Oh you haven’t eaten much today, I guess you wouldn’t know.” So there’s going to be moments where we can play a little bit of humor, as she finds out what she can do, what she can’t do, what she likes, and what she doesn’t like.
When the show runners and writers sat you down, did they tell you what the big reveal was in the end? Do you know where this is going or are they keeping you in the dark?
I think there’s a good balance. I think I’m definitely in the dark about a lot of it. I’ve been, obviously, pitched the entire season. I know some of the key points throughout the story line. As for the specifics, I don’t know, and I kind of like it, it would probably drive most actors crazy not knowing what they’re doing. But for me it keeps me on my toes and definitely is very satisfying...
Do you have a Neo moment, “I know kung fu”?
Oh yeah, there’s a few of those. It’s just a reflex. That’s the one thing about this character, the only thing she really has is her gut instinct and her intuition. And it’s interesting because if you really trusted that, you and I, that’s really all you need.
So you’re covered head-to-toe in tattoos, I’m sure that’s a lot of makeup work. At the end of the day do you have to get it all removed? I know the tattooed character from “True Detective” would have to wear them in New Orleans [and ended up being trapped in New Orleans due to said tattoos].
I actually quite like the tattoos. They take like seven or so hours to apply full body. Some days I’m not in the full body. Some days I’m just forearms and clavicle up, and hands. It does take a while but I enjoy it. We have the best crew ever, we just have a good time. It’s such a beautiful piece of art to center the show around. Whether it’s on me or somebody else it’s just extraordinary, what they’ve done.
So it’s definitely not one of those Hot Topic sleeves?
No, definitely not, although I used to have one of those. I leave them on, I can wear them for about three days. They do pick up lint in the air, so they’ll start to turn a little gray and it starts to get a little zombie. We’ll take them off, it takes a couple of hours to take it off. I kind of like it. It’s great going into a Starbucks with them.
What’s going to happen with you and your character Sif in the next “Thor” film? We’ve been teasing out a lot of your character’s origins, but we’ve never seen it. Are we going to explore this? And how deep are we going to go ?
Marvel, I think on purpose, they don’t tell me certain things. Because they know I’ll be like, “So here’s what’s gonna happen.” But I do know I will be in “Thor 3” and that Sif will have a very pivotal part in that movie. I just can’t tell you what because I’ll get shot.
Were you excited to see the stuff [Marvel] put in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that hints at it? There was a big tease out in that?
Yeah, there’s a lot of great stuff they’ve peppered in through “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Avengers,” “Captain” will have some stuff. There’s just all kind of Easter eggs and hints, if you’re really paying attention. They’re so good at interweaving everything throughout those films.
I can’t wait to see Sif in street clothes again. What was it like being in normal clothes but also playing Sif?
It was really difficult because I’m so used to the armor, actually kind of the protection of the armor when I’m fighting. Because if somebody hits me in the stomach or shoulder or the back I don’t feel it because it’s real armor. It was a little weird, I felt very small and kind of thin. Again, when I did that episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” I had a week’s notice. It takes me about three months to bulk for Sif. I was like, “Oh no,” and I don’t have my armor to really sell it either. Gonna have to rely on the voice and the wig. It was fun. And it was a really cool space to play up Sif’s vulnerability. Which I think makes her more relatable to everybody.
The NBC series “Blindspot” will premiere on Sept. 21, and the film “Thor: Ragnarok” will debut in 2017.
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