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Exclusive Interview with Jessica Jones’ Wil Traval

Photo Credit: Brianna Alysse
Photo Credit: Brianna Alysse

Talk Nerdy With Us recently had the pleasure of chatting with Australian actor Wil Traval. Wil is best known for roles on All Saints, Red Widow and Once Upon a Time. Fans can currently see him portray Will Simpson on Netflix’s hit new series Jessica Jones. Keep reading to find out more about Simpson and Traval.

Hey, Wil! How are you?

Good. Really good, just took my dogs for walk so everyone is happy.

What kind of dogs do you have?

A couple of Chihuahua mixes. One of them is, my little girl, her name is Mildred and she is a little rescue. She is cute as hell.

Awe! So, tell me about your audition problem for Jessica Jones.

I was asked to come in and audition for a Marvel project, which at that point I didn’t know the name of. This is going back to August last year. I went in there with a generic blanket script. There was no indication of who was involved or the character’s names. It wasn’t a script from the show, it was just something to, I guess, give you the impression of the character. I did that, auditioned there and walked out of it and thought that was a great audition, but didn’t think too much more of it until November.

It was a good, long time before I got a callback. They were like, “We really love you for the role of Jessica Jones” and said, “Why don’t you come in and audition for, you know, the head?” So, Marvel, or Netflix and Disney and all that sort of stuff. For Disney studios here in LA. I walked in there and did that and I was like, “Oh my God, I hope I don’t screw it up!”, because I was really excited at that point.

Three days later I got a call, after buying some pet supplies, that I got the role and he said, “Here’s an early Christmas present.” I fell down on the ground laughing, obviously, I was over the moon. I was also like, “Wait, what role did I get?” I still didn’t know at that point, all I knew was that I had a role in the show. (Laughs).

How much of Will’s back story did they tell you once you landed the role? How long did they keep it a secret from you?

There were clues within the script where I did my own, kind of, investigation into the Marvel comic universe, and was like, “Yay, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be this guy!” They weren’t very forthcoming, exactly, with the nature of my character. Even once I began shooting, they’re like we’ll give you more information as you go along.

When I first started, I thought Will was just a New York cop living in Brooklyn. So I gave him a little bit of an East Coast accent. I remember at one point, Jeph Loeb, one of the heads of Marvel asked why I was doing an East Coast accent and I said, “Because he’s a New York cop.” He went, “No, that’s not where he lives, that’s not where he comes from.” I went “Okay, great, well, once you figure out when you can tell me who I am, let me know. (Laughs).

Will went through the ringer during this season and was pretty much a different character each episode, so, did it make it easier to portray him not knowing so much? Or did that make it harder?

Well, at some point I, kind of, understood where we were going to take the character without being told explicitly. Yeah, every week, script to script, I was given great notes by Melissa Rosenberg, one of the show’s creators. She said just play the scenes for what they are. Wherever Will Simpson is right now, just play that. Don’t worry about where he is going, just play the moment.

That was really great advice and that kind of helped that progression of Will Simpson, where he moves from one aspect to the other from episode to episode.

Is Will really Nuke? Is that his true identity?

I’ve got to be honest I have never been told that he is Nuke. No one’s ever told me that. (Laughs). 

As a fan of the show, is that who you think he is?

That’s who I hope he is. I love the character of Nuke.

When did you start reading the Jessica Jones comics?

I got the full compendium of Alias for myself as a Christmas present last year. Over the Christmas break I spent most of my time reading through those comics and going, “Oh my God!” I was freaking out. You know, the incredible content, the incredible artwork and just the stories in it, the themes and I was like, “This is fantastic, this is the show we’re making?” Yeah, I spent all of Christmas doing that.

What was the first Marvel comic that you read?

I have no idea, actually. First ones that I followed would have been the Alias ones. I come from Australia where there is not a huge comic book culture in Australia. There is now, but when I was growing up, it’s obviously, a different culture to the United States. There were comic cartoons on, I remember watching the X-Men every morning before going to school. I feel like Alias is the first one I really sunk my teeth into and read from start to finish.

What was your physical training like for the show?

Oh, it was great. Well, once I figured out this guy was an ex-serviceman in the Marines, I was like, “Let’s get some training!” Obviously, regular physical training to keep yourself fit, but I got to work with some great hand-to-hand combat trainers and some ex-policemen who taught me how to use a gun and police protocols and behaviors. Some of the hand-to-hand combat stuff was just very intensive and so much fun to do. I was like, “Woah, great, once I leave the show I’m also going to be a lethal killer myself!” (Laughs).

What was your favorite scene to film?

I think I had two of them. One of them was Episode Four, when Simpson comes to apologize to Trish and offers her the gift. Then, we find them sitting back to back with a door between them, talking about who they are and opening themselves and being vulnerable to each other. I really enjoyed that and working with Rachael Taylor is hands down one of the best experiences I’ve had.

Beyond that, that scene in Episode Eleven where Jessica and Trish both fight Simpson. That was a weeks shoot. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had as an actor. Just incredible, you know, throwing each other around hallways and throwing each other through walls and breaking down doors. Yeah, that was great.

What was the very first scene you filmed?

It was when Will attacked Trish. It was actually the first time you see Simpson is the first scene that I shot.

How different was it filming a show for Netflix where all the episodes stream at once, versus filming a show for a network?

Essentially, it’s the same shooting process. You know, directors come in and you work on one script and move to the next. You shoot them in sequence from Episodes One through to Thirteen. It’s the same thing you do on a network show. There’s really not a lot of difference in terms of the production.

It’s just the anticipation of the release of the show where it’s different, because you realize that everyone is going to have access to all of the episodes, all at once. They can sit down and binge and enjoy it however they want to. That really is the only difference.

Did you binge it once it came out?

No, I’m not a big binger. I can do two episodes at once and then I need a break. I think it took me two and a half days to finish it. I guess that’s binging, isn’t it? 

(Laughs). It is! Are you the type of actor who enjoys watching himself, or do you hate watching yourself?

I don’t mind it because I’ve been doing it for a long time. You know, I’ve worked for a long time home in Australia. I think, when you first start working, you find it odd to watch yourself on-screen. At this point now, especially when I’m shooting a character like Will Simpson, there are points when I watch it and I separate so much from it. So, I just enjoy the show as a show itself and I throw out the ideas sitting there, and being self-critical or self-congratulatory. I just watch the show for the show.

Do you think Will will return for the next season? What do you think his status is? 

I hope that he is going to return! I have my own private theories and I think that Dr. Kozlov, I’m hoping Dr. Kozlov is going to take him away and pick him up and do something with him. I’m hoping that he’s going to return and have a real beef with Jessica Jones. I don’t really know, I hope he comes back! I think he’s great! Come on! (Laughs).

Outside of the Jessica Jones universe, who is your favorite superhero?

Well, as I said, when I was a kid growing up I watched X-men a lot, I was always a big fan of Wolverine. Also, I had a little soft spot for Beast, as well. I really enjoyed the fact that he was just this wild animal, who really was an intellect, but if he needed to the Beast could be let out. That was fun, but Wolverine was always my hands down favorite.

For fans who haven’t seen Jessica Jones yet, what are three reasons why they should stop what they’re doing and watch it?

Good question. Three reasons. Well, first of all, you get to see a kick ass female superhero who is an ordinary woman with extraordinary abilities. Also, you got to sit down and watch it because, now, I feel Jessica Jones is like a sophisticated, kind of, in-depth, psychological version of a superhero show. We’re not concerned with superpowers and flying around the city. It’s more about how to be a human. What’s a good third reason? Third reason is Krysten Ritter, she’s just phenomenal, why not watch it?

Our website is called “Talk Nerdy With Us”, so what do you nerd out about?

I’m a bit of a video gamer, I love RPG. At the moment I’m obsessed about Fallout4. Growing up as a kid I was a big math geek. I ended up finishing high school with a scholarship to go study math. That makes me nerdy enough. (Laughs).

For some reason I got out of it, I think I started shooting films with friends and got really intrigued by that. I thought maybe I could make a more fun life out of this? What else makes me nerdy? I’m a food nerd too. I love discovering new restaurants and investigating new restaurants.

Also, I’m the biggest Star Trek fan ever. I’ve always wanted to be a captain! It’s on my acting bucket list. Now, of course, I want to be a vampire and I want to be a captain.

Those are your two dream roles? Vampire and captain?

Yeah.

You could be a vampire captain. We’ll start the petition right now.

That’d be the life!

We know you’re also a huge Star Wars fan, so what are you most excited about for the upcoming movie?

I’m excited to see what they do with Luke Skywalker and where they take his character. I’m really excited to see the movie get back to what made them great in the beginning. You know, like, real sets, real costumes and real creatures. Hopefully stepping away from too much CGI. I’m excited to see that.

What has been your favorite Star Wars movie?

I guess, IV ‘A New Hope’ was always my favorite. I always thought I was Luke Skywalker when I was a kid growing up. I went, “That’s me! I want to find out that I’m destined to greater things!”

Besides Jessica Jones, is there anything else that you’re currently working on or about to start working on, that you would like to talk to us about?

Not really, I mean we’re looking at a bunch of different projects and trying to find the right fit now. We’re just in that process it’s like, “What is the next best thing that we should do?” Once we do figure out what that is, I’ll let you guys know.

Well, when the vampire captain role comes up, you’ll tell us.

Exactly, come on!

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