David Tennant On Kilgrave - The Man Who Always Gets What He Wants

By now you’ve probably seen the first shots of David Tennant in action as supervillain Kilgrave in the official trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones (if not then check it out below). Though he is barely seen, David’s presence dominates the clip, first adding a chilling underscore of menace then building to a horrifying tableau revealing the chaos that he causes.

But who is Kilgrave? Even David, a lifelong reader of Marvel comics, admits that he didn’t know much about the character when he signed on for the role.
“[Taking the role] was a bit of a gamble, but I'm very glad I rolled those particular dice,” he says. “This world is so unusual, exciting, dark and quite adult not necessarily all the things you’d expect a superhero show to be.” 

The original comic book version of Kilgrave was a Yugoslavian spy who received his powers after a chemical spill gave him the ability to control other people through his pheromones. David’s version is now English and lacks the violet skin tone of the comics character which gave him the moniker of The Purple Man. Instead he appears to favour purple clothing, an adaptation that costume designer Stephanie Maslansky explains was an important one in order to ground Kilgrave in a grittier, more realistic universe.

“It was important not to make him look ridiculous,” she says. “He’s now a real person, and we needed to figure out a way to make him look ominous and scary and threatening.” To do this, she incorporated a few deliberate purple and lavender accessories into David’s wardrobe, like ties, cufflinks and pocket squares. “They all worked together to create a particular look that aided, I hope, in his devilishness.”

The screen version of Kilgrave has retained his comic counterpart’s power of mind control which, as David explains, underpins the character’s demanding, manipulative behaviour.

“He’s the kid in the toy shop; he can have whatever he wants,” he says. “Part of the journey of growing up is that you have to learn things don't always work that way. But for Kilgrave, that's never been the truth.”   

And Kilgrave’s powers have the capacity to ruin lives, as is made apparent in the new trailer. "Kilgrave leaves a trail of broken people behind him,” declares Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones. “You have no idea what I’ve done. What he made me do.”

Marvel’s Jessica Jones is the latest Netflix release of five planned Defenders miniseries.  Krysten Ritter leads the cast as a former superhero forced into retirement following a personal trauma whose past comes back around to bite her. David Tennant co-stars as the evil Kilgrave with Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth and Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones premieres exclusively on Netflix on Friday 20th October at 12.01am PST / 8.01am GMT

Watch the new trailer here: