Jaimie Alexander has super powers in real life.
Perhaps she’s picked them up from her roles as Thor’s battle partner Lady Sif in Marvel’s “Thor” films or as Jane, the tattooed mystery woman of NBC’s “Blindspot,” but she was most likely just born with these abilities: She can photographically memorize things (like her lines, which she learns instantly the morning she’s to do a scene) and read minds (like anticipating questions before we asked them).
Her talent and those “superpowers” have served her well. She was just out of high school when she filled in for a sick friend at a meeting with a scouting agency, and that led her to a career in acting. Alexander chooses roles that speak to her, and for those that don’t, she isn’t shy about recommending another actor she thinks is best for the job.
As part of a collaboration between the Autograph Collection’s The Individualists series and Variety, we spoke to Alexander between “Blindspot” takes about relying on her gut to find the right projects and refusing to take roles that cater to a male lead.
You seem to easily go between big-budget television projects (“Agents of SHIELD”), small-budget/indie drama (“Savannah”) and blockbuster sci-fi (“Thor”). Do you work differently in each arena?
I do. I tend to draw from people around me. For now, I’m in New York City walking around the streets with my headphones in; I watch people. I’m very interested in what makes people tick; people are so weird and complicated. I want to incorporate what I see in the world in my art. Shooting here at the moment (is being a part of a) mixing pot — culture, languages, food, different skin tones, hair, height, weight, everything. I (incorporate this stuff) differently with each role, but I guess the process is all the same. Especially because I have no formal training to rely on, I just wing it. I go with the flow and follow the energy. I’m lucky it’s gotten me this far.
There you go, answering my question before I ask it. Tell us more about working in NYC.
I find the energy in NYC is more free flowing — so many levels of it. I find Los Angeles a bit desperate. For me, the energy there is bad. I’ve really enjoyed being in New York because there are so many other industries here, while where I live in L.A. the only industry is the entertainment industry. You tend to feel like you’re in a bubble of redundancy. Not to sound too hippie, but I work so much off of energy. I’m a Pisces, and that’s part of who I am. I just gravitate towards NYC.
What was the energy of your character Jane in “Blindspot” that drew you to her?
I’d read so many pilots, and I got offered a lot of stuff, which I’m extremely thankful for, but nothing was really striking a chord with me. All of the female characters were written to cater to the male lead, something I’ve always had a problem with. There are a lot of strong, female actresses out there — physically and emotionally — who are able to show so much range, yet the writing these days still isn’t on par with the talent. When I read “Blindspot,” it really struck a chord because I knew I’d need to utilize all of my talents — my fight background, (finding) the emotional depth of the character, her vulnerability. I love showing vulnerability. It’s important and not a weakness. Deep down, I felt like (Jane) was written for me.
Another strong female role you’ve taken on is Lady Sif. You’ve played her in two “Thor” films, hopefully the third — directed by indie darling Taika Waititi — and in “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.”
I genuinely love the character Sif. Each time I get to play her, there’s this growth in the character and we find out more of who she is. That is a blast, because I’ve been able to slowly create this woman while still taking directions from all the comic books that existed before my performance. It’s interesting that Sif has such a big backstory, whereas Jane has no backstory at all; they’re very opposite while at the same time both very tough and vulnerable. It’s a bit of a niche for me, I guess.
You were up for “Wonder Woman,” but Gal Gadot got the part. Was that a disappointment for you?
Not at all. I’m excited to see what she’s going to do with the role. I was one of a few people that were an obvious choice for Wonder Woman, but it was never going to happen. I’m contracted with Marvel and it would (be) strange. Sif, in her way, is Marvel’s Wonder Woman. They’re both ethereal and have armor and a sword, and have special abilities; the physicality of the role is very similar. The thing I really enjoy about Marvel is that they start with a character first and all the explosions and costumes, the glitz and glam, are secondary to who the actual character is deep down. That’s something I haven’t really been able to find with DC Comics. I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s been my experience.
I’m a huge comic book fan, and I’ve read a lot from all different comic book outlets. I enjoy Marvel, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in the “Thor” films. I gravitate towards the Marvel characters. Of course, growing up I really loved Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman; there will never be a better Wonder Woman. I was also a huge fan of Sigourney Weaver. Walt Simonson told me that his version of Lady Sif was very much modeled after seeing Sigourney Weaver walk down the New York streets in a red trench coat. I thought, ‘Oh, well she’s my favorite, so that’s perfect. That’s just so perfect for me.’
Do you have a particular place you like to escape to?
It always was New York, until I started working here a lot. I think, for me, a place that I like to escape would be Santa Fe, New Mexico. I love Santa Fe, it’s my favorite place. I can’t even explain it, and that’s why I know it’s true. There’s just a feeling I get when I’m there. I love the altitude, I love the people, I love the energy there. I love the hippie vibe there. I love the food, I love all of it. It’s just a relaxed way of life there I really enjoy.