Blindspot premieres tonight on NBC and will air Mondays at 10. You’ve been seeing the promos all summer with Jaimie Alexander covered in tattoos, climbing out of a bag naked in the middle of Times Square. She’s been working it too, going everywhere to promote the show. We sat in on a roundtable with Alexander at Comic-Con.
Alexander plays Jane Doe, a mystery woman. The only clues to her identity are the tattoos on her body, beginning with the one on her back that says Kurt Weller, FBI (Sullivan Stapleton). Alexander discussed the demands of Blindspot and what we can expect as Jane Doe’s story continues.
Q: What can fans expect from the first season?
Jaimie Alexander: I wish I knew. No, I’m just kidding. This first season’s going to be intense. The great thing about this series is that there’s very few things that are repeated. You know how procedurals get so boring, but then you’re kind of obsessed with them? Like Law & Order: SVU, I don’t care. It can be the same thing every episode, it’s so good. This show moves fast so you can pick up on certain things. If you miss an episode, you can obviously understand what’s going to be happening. It’s just the nature of that type of show, but there’s going to be new things every single episode that just catapult the storyline. And it’s so intense and it’s written very much like a film, which I love. That was one of the most appealing aspects for me, and the fact that Mark Pellington directed our pilot. He’s doing episode two and I think episode four. He’s an executive producer now I believe. His tone and how dark it is, it’s just so cinematic and I think TV is really paving the way for strong female characters that are relatable. Screw movies.
Nerd Report: Have you by any chance spoken to Wentworth Miller about playing a TV character with lots of tattoos?
Jaimie Alexander: You know, I haven’t spoken to him but I might call him and ask him if he grew a third arm or not because I don’t know. I’ve got some fun stuff on right now that they put on me yesterday at the Blindspot exhibit. Yeah, the tattoos are awesome and I said one of the reasons I wear them so much on the show and I’m not covered as much is because I said to them, “Don’t skimp out. If we’re going to do this tattoo thing, I want to wear them all the time. I know it’s going to be hard. It’s totally fine.” Because I said the worst thing that happens in television or in film is that they’ll just cover you up because they’re cheap and they’re like, “We don’t want to put her through that. Let’s just put a jacket on her.” And I’m like, “Oh no, I’ll be in a tank top. Let’s do it.” Because it’s such an important part of the show.
Q: How long does it take to cover your whole body?
Jaimie Alexander: So my entire body takes seven and a half hours to put the tattoos on and I can’t sit down, so it gets a little rough towards the end. But we have a great crew. It’s the guys from Tinsley Studios. They do everything that’s badass. It’s so great. They’re such nice guys and they come. We blast the Beatles on Pandora and watch Daniel Boone reruns because that’s the only thing on at 3:30 in the morning. We just get through it and once I’m in them and I start moving my arms around, it cracks them a little bit and then I’m able to move around really easily. It doesn’t bother me, I don’t know. Some people get claustrophobic in them. My poor stunt girl who has been with me for way too long, she’s like, “I cannot believe you’re making me do this.” I was like, “You had to wear a double corset on Thor. Relax, it’s not that bad.”
Q: What is Jane Doe’s relationship with Kurt Weller? She seems to rely on him instinctively.
Jaimie Alexander: The one thing that Jane has is her gut instinct and intuition. That’s all she has, so for some reason with this guy, his name is tattooed on her back so I think subconsciously, she’s saying, “I need to stay close to this guy because he might have some answers for me.” But he also, there’s these moments where they have this connection and it’s like okay, I get you and you get me and I can help you and you can help me, so we need to know each other. We’re going to explore all kinds of things with them. It’s not going to be what you think. It’s not a love interest right away if ever. I do know we have good chemistry. I’ve been told that. He’s my buddy. He’s cool, but what’s really going to be happening is he’s going to aid her in finding out who she is, helping her find out who she is. She’s going to aid him in opening up a little bit because he’s got a lot of dark secrets. He’s got a lot of things going on. Each character is so multi-dimensional but it’s not overloaded.
Q: Are you surprised by anything you’re learning about yourself playing this character?
Jaimie Alexander: Oh, as an actress. I thought you meant about Jane. I was like wait until episode seven. I was like, “You want me to what?” For me as an actress, it’s funny. I haven’t had this opportunity in about eight years to play this kind of character. The last time I had this opportunity was Kyle XY where I could actually have scenes where you could see that I could act, because the rest of my stuff is a lot of action stuff. I enjoy it very much but to really dig into a character has been a while and I’ve waited a very long time. I’ve passed on a lot of stuff because I just was like I can’t keep doing this stuff that’s not satisfying. I need to make a living but it just doesn’t make me happy. I got this script and I was like oh, I could do some stuff with this. I’m starting to feel like I’m coming into what I’m capable of an actress with this show and it’s such a good feeling. As with any career, you guys know, when you get something and you’re doing something really good, you feel it and you’re like, “I just want to keep doing this.” This is that for me.
Nerd Report: Are there any tattoos you might want to keep?
Jaimie Alexander: Oh, man. Here’s the problem. I have nine of my own tattoos that they’ve covered or incorporated into the designs. They’re like, “Just don’t get any more for a while.” I was like, “I’m not. I think I’ll be satisfied with the full body.” But if I wasn’t an actor, I’d probably be sleeved. There’s an owl on my right hip that’s amazing. There’s some sort of spoke on my left hip and it’s great. It has all of New England’s states in the center. Everything is so intricate. I actually went into a Starbucks and this guy, who was a tattoo artist I guess, he was like covered. He goes, “Who does your work?” And I was like, “My makeup artist? I don’t know.” I’ll tell you a really funny story because it just made me think of that. We were just doing Navy SEAL training in New York and for some reason, they were making us train in the city which you can imagine we were right across from the Freedom Tower but we had the windows open because we’re idiots. We were messing with some shotguns and assault rifles and all kinds of stuff. Somebody outside, one of the construction guys outside saw it and called the cops. We were with Carson Ulrich who’s very high up and a very talented trainer with that stuff. Straight out of Washington. They were banging on the door and I was getting into my diving uniform to go dive in the pool, and I had to come out. I was like half naked and I was like, “Why are the police in here?” They were trying to arrest us because they probably thought we were part of ISIS and it scared the crap out of me. And then the SWAT team surrounded the hotel and this is just on Monday, you guys. I was like, “We might need to go out in the field somewhere.” So the next day, we went to a military base in Jersey, like 60 miles out and we were like, “We’ll totally not get in trouble here.” Yeah, it’s that kind of stuff, I was like at least it looks believable. That’s got to be a compliment.
Q: Do you see this character as the potential to be a new iconic female hero?
Jaimie Alexander: I think iconic female, yeah. Again, I’m working with such a great team. My show runner Martin Gerro and Greg Berlanti, they’re awesome and they’re very open to listening to my opinions and my thoughts and things like that. Again, I want to make sure that she’s not viewed as a superhero. There’s a fine line there because again it’s tough female action, that sort of thing and I think people that enjoy the superhero genre will very much enjoy the show. But I wanted to set it in reality because I wanted to try to use this as a platform that will create more of these roles for more actresses out there. If this is done well, it’s just going to pave the way for something like that. That’s mostly my responsibility but also the studio and the creators.
Q: How do you create a character when you don’t have a backstory?
Jaimie Alexander: You know what’s weird. For some reason, when I read this, I just could feel everything. I could feel what it feels like to feel lost and an outcast. I think I’ve been pretty much an outcast my whole life. Just to feel that, I went off my gut. I was like God, what would this feel like? I don’t know how. I could just feel it because that’s all I had and that’s all she has. I thought I really don’t know what she was. In the beginning, she wasn’t going to be a SEAL. So I was like, “How does she know how to do this?” Then now she’s going to be so it’s a very interesting thing for me because I really had to put a lot of faith into the show runner and into my director, Mark Pellington. And just as a team, we were all finding it as we went. It just came to life and I said great, now we have the pilot so now I can at least base it around that and take it from there, but it’s great. I get to create as I go. It’s like a painter, you know.
Q: How does the title relate to the show?
Jaimie Alexander: Well, it’s funny because both Jane and Kurt Weller have a blindspot. They have a part of their past that’s missing. You guys will start to learn that about Weller eventually. Especially for Jane, there’s this whole blackout. There’s a spot in her life that she’s blind to. She has no idea who she was and she’s trying to fill that. She’s trying to see around this thing which is amnesia. So in a way it’s a very hidden title but it’s pretty cool.