The cast and crew of Netflix series “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” were shooting scenes for Season 2 of the series all around Manhattan’s East Village last year, but they didn’t publicize their presence. In fact, when one of the crew members was asked by a journalist what they were filming, he claimed it was a show called “Violet.” But when “Jessica Jones” star Krysten Ritter was spotted sitting in a chair dressed as the character (and knitting between takes), the secret was out.
Much of the action in Season 2 of the Marvel series, which dropped March 8 on Netflix, takes place in a different Manhattan area, Hell’s Kitchen, where the titular character lives. The East Village is a great substitute because it has “some of the bones and structure” to masquerade as the Midtown neighborhood, says location manager Rocco Nisivoccia.
A hat store in the East Village was turned into a wig shop for one scene because it could be convincingly transformed in a minimal amount of time on a day that involved multiple moves. “There were a couple of things we were looking for in that particular location,” says production designer Judy Rhee. “We wanted it to have an old-world and a mom-and-pop feel, and this place offered character and texture in terms of old brick and some darker wood.”
Rhee also transformed a bodega in the actual Hell’s Kitchen into a liquor store. “The owner stayed open while we were prepping, and he shut down while we shot there,” Rhee says, praising the accommodating nature of New York City’s small businesspeople. “There are lots of fans of the show, so they’re willing to work with us.”
The season shot in all five New York City boroughs (as well as in upstate New York), and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the New York Police Dept. and other city agencies were also supportive, according to Nisivoccia, who credits their help for making it possible to shoot a scene in Queens that features a big explosion that can be seen in the show’s Season 2 trailer. “That was right here in the heart of the city,” Nisivoccia says.
Both Nisivoccia and Rhee were new to the superhero genre and worked hand in hand on the new season, quickly learning how to best serve the needs of the stunt department, whose work is vital to the action-driven show.
Showrunner and executive producer Melissa Rosenberg and exec producer Raelle Tucker provided Nisivoccia and Rhee with scripts for the entire season before the show went into pre-production. “We were able to discuss the long-term arc of the season, whether it was a visual arc or a story arc, and how it would all relate,” says Rhee. “It was immensely helpful to have the scripts ahead of time.”
Nisivoccia also acknowledges the luxury of being able to see the full season before shooting. “Changes always come,” he allows, “but we knew about the big stuff and could start thinking about what was coming down the road.”