In recent years, the world of entertainment has been touched more and more by non-American performers, writers, and artists. Look at any award show, and many of the nominees and presenters will deliver speeches in various, lovely accents. Television has certainly been no exception. And thanks to Australian actor Wil Traval, Marvel is one of the latest franchises to see the trend continue.
In a conversation with the actor of Netflix’s Jessica Jones, we learn of Traval’s preparation methods for his new role, how he really feels about online streaming, and why he loves Tilda Swinton.
Raised on a farm just outside of Melbourne, Traval found his footing making short films in high school, and would later go on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts from the National Institute for Dramatic Art (NIDA). After landing lead roles on Australian television series such as All Saints and Underbelly, Traval then relocated to the U.S. in 2010 to take on roles in hit shows such as Showtime’s Dexter and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. However, his latest role has led him to one of the most fan-driven and supported franchises on the planet, in the form of a Marvel series.
Traval can now be seen in the role of Will Simpson on the Netflix-original Marvel series, Jessica Jones. The show revolves around the hot-headed private detective, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), as she uses her super abilities to serve those in need. The series takes on more mature material, seeing Traval’s character, an NYPD task force officer, develop an addiction to performance-enhancing medication in his joint quest to stop supervillain, Kilgrave.
While his character may have taken an unorthodox approach to fighting crime, Traval believes Will Simpson has good intentions, but they’re clouded by his demons.
“I think that Simpson believed he was taking the right cause of action. Unfortunately, we see that he is an addict and can’t control his use of the [pills],” he says.
Given his methods in law enforcement, Will Simpson is a character with many layers, plenty of which we have yet to see. Traval attributes his desire to audition for the part to the role’s complexity, and the chance to work with a familiar face.
“It really was his determination to do right, at whatever cost,” Traval states. “More so than anything it was the opportunity to work with Mel Rosenberg again.” (Rosenberg served as one of the Executive Producers for Dexter previously).
His character, while currently an officer for the NYPD, is discovered to have once been a Special Ops Marine. Attempting to portray the role with the authenticity is deserved, Traval says he sat down with a few of those who have experienced war first-hand in order to truly understand the job and learn their stories.
“I had the good fortune to meet with two former Marines and three NY police officers. They gave me their personal accounts of serving this country and protecting the people,” the actor recounts. “I also had considerable fight and gun training.”
Although the show is based on a well-known comic book series, Traval admits he didn’t pick up a copy before auditioning for the role. The world of comics is large and continuously expanding, however, is still finding its audience in his home country, down under.
“Australia doesn’t have the comic book culture. That is to say, it’s not mainstream like it is in the States,” Traval says.
The show, which was recently picked up for season two, has shown viewers Simpson’s struggle on his path for justice, and also gave us a peak at a budding romance in the form of a love-hate relationship between Simpson and Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor).
So, what might season two bring for our favorite officer? Traval says he would like to see his character take a darker path, only for it to end in a love story.
“I hope to see Simpson go right off the deep end, to the point of no return. Trish could be his redeemer, and bring him back from the brink of total self destruction,” Traval confesses. “Then they live happily every after.”
Overall, the show’s mature themes throughout its first season will presumably continue for the remainder of the series. Despite Marvel’s history of lending itself to a more “family-friendly” audience, Traval sees the great potential this type of material can be to the series.
“I think the show will find a sophisticated older audience, and one willing to explore darker ideas and themes than previously seen from Marvel,” he says.
With the growing trend of popular programming being made for streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon, shows like Jessica Jones have contributed to breaking new ground in media consumption.
As the debate over what online streaming means for traditional television and film continues, Traval expresses his excitement for the platform’s growth.
The Australian actor reveals, “[I] love it. It opens the world of storytelling up to a whole new long-form medium.”
Traval’s history of portraying various characters in the form of television, and now online streaming, begs the question of if we will see the self-proclaimed Wikipedia lover bring roles to life on the silver screen. According to him, it’s the next step in his already impressive career.
“Bring it on!” he proclaims.
After such an extensive career in television, the list of shows Traval has not touched continues to shrink. When asked if there is any particular show in which he would like to appear, Traval offered his choice, and even had a suggestion for what the role could be.
“Sherlock,” He proudly states. “I think Benedict [Cumberbatch] is phenomenal, and I would love to play a villain opposite him.”
We hope you’re listening, Ben! But Cumberbatch has stiff competition, as he isn’t the only actor Traval has his sights set on.
“Tilda Swinton. All hail, Tilda! She is extraordinary,” he says.
As Jessica Jones continues to gain favorable reviews from audiences everywhere, we expect to see these complicated, yet lovable characters become long-term fixtures in our binge-watching repertoire.
Before we said goodbye, we wanted to find out what an average day on a super hero set is really like. According to Traval, that’s a secret that will stay under wraps.
“I can’t tell you that,” he jokes.
Jessica Jones is available for streaming now, only on Netflix.