When it comes to who would play She-Hulk in the upcoming Marvel series, there was never doubt in the creator’s minds that Tatiana Maslany would be the perfect Jennifer Walters because of her ability to slip into characters with ease.
The Orphan Black star is no stranger to taking on complex characters are setting them apart in a show, and Maslany does the same as She-Hulk. When Jen Walters has to adjust to her new abilities to turn into the She-Hulk, it challenges her in many different ways, but one thing holds true, she is still very She-Human.
“What’s so great about the show is that it has all those huge Marvel elements to it,” Tatiana Maslany says. “There are big set pieces. However, we also deal with She-Hulk swipe dating. And we deal with her helping her dad carry stuff into the garage. Those little sweet moments that really made me excited to do this show.”
Jen just wants to get back to her life as a lawyer. She’s worked too hard, racking up student debt and fighting for her seat at the table, to just give that up and be a superhero. Hulk training is not at the top of her priority list, and that sets her character apart from other Marvel heroes. She would rather fight the bad guys in court, not on the streets.
Head writer and executive producer Jessica Gao attributed how easy it was to make Jen Walters so relatable to Tatiana’s talent.
“She was able to immediately, from day one, make this feel like a real human being,” Gao says.” You feel like she’s lived a life, she has life experiences, she has relationships, she has a family, and she has friends. And also that she changes. She might feel different in the morning than she does in the evening. She might feel different today than she does yesterday. This is a real person who actually feels things and processes things and, like most people, has highs and lows.”
Director and executive producer Kat Coiro describes She-Hulk as “a little bit of a peek behind the curtain at the every day, sometimes even mundane life of a superhero, which we do get to experience in this long-form series.”
But why was Tatiana so right for this role? What does she bring to the character that’s unique?
“There was nobody else,” Gao says. “There was really no other discussion. From her previous work, we knew that she had a range and could embody so many elements of the human experience. And what’s so interesting and different about Jennifer is that she maintains her sense of self, and yet her sense of self is influenced by the way she presents when she changes. It’s a different way of walking through the world. And so it required a nuance of performance that really only Tatiana could give.”
“The other wonderful thing about Tatiana is that she has such a good instinct for characters and for the story because they really go hand in hand,” Coiro says. “There have been so many times where’s she’s pinpointed something that didn’t quite feel right, just instinctively, but also intellectually. It was always right. It always forced us to work together to get it to a better place that was more real and that was smarter and better. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.”
There are scenes that women will understand about fighting for their place in the room, but also the sanctity of the bathroom.
“That scene was so important to me, and there were so many times that it was on the chopping block because a lot of people didn’t understand it,” Gao says. And I was like, ‘this is the single most important scene to me in this entire episode,’ because truly, the women’s bathroom in any club, bar, strip club, I don’t care, like any public women’s bathroom is the most safe, protective, and supportive environment.
“It’s the truth!” Gao continues. “Women are so often depicted as being catty and bitchy. That could possibly be true outside of the bar, but the moment you’re in the inner sanctum of the bathroom, women just wanna help each other. If you went into a bathroom and said, ‘This man was bad to me,’ you would have an entire of women ready to go and kill him.”
Women’s empowerment isn’t just seen in Jen Walters, and the bathroom scene, her best friend Nikki is also her biggest cheerleader. The two support each other in different ways, but when Jen needs a pep talk, she knows just where to go.
She-Hulk is an empowering character brought to life by one of the most talented actresses in the business. Audiences are going to enjoy the life Tatiana Maslany breathes into both Jen Walters and She-Hulk. Stream the first episode on August 18th exclusively on Disney+.