The Tessa Thompson Interview
by duckyxdale

So I was lucky enough to score an interview with Tessa Thompson who plays Season 2 newcomer and diva Jackie Cook!

Don't lie some of you loved to hate her some 18 episodes back but I have to admit that somewhere around "Magic Mountain" Jackie won me over! Sure she's all hard on the outside but inside Jackie Cook is an insecure and wounded high school girl trying to fit into a horribly judgemental High School setting. It's my life story except I'm not a girl, nor of color, nor rich with a Dad accused of murder... so its ya know, EXACTLY NOT LIKE MY HIGH SCHOOL EXISTENCE.

I never thought I'd have said this given that bathroom stalls are usually as trustworthy as the newspaper but darn it - that bathroom stall lied! Jackie Cook is not a bitch after all! Would a bitch take Charlie to the dance? Would a bitch be so worried about her image as to refuse a damn fine man like Wallace? I had to get to the bottom of what became one of Neptune High's more complex characters this season.

Originally we were trying to hook up via phone but as the "Veronica" Season had ended and she was filming the super-sized finale of my other obsession, "Grey's Anatomy" (what? Holla!) before jetting off to Shreveport, LA for the remake of the "Initiation of Sarah" we agreed upon email correspondence. I'd just like to state for the record that we are so BFF's now. Tessa and Ducky sitting in a tree... You get the idea. The gays are always drawn to the diva's - its laws of physics or something.

duckxydale: I've not read "How To Win Friends and Influence People" but I'm pretty sure sending a bus full of future classmates over a cliff to their watery death is not one of those winning ways. Why did Jackie kill everyone? You can tell me the finale is still weeks away - I won't tell!

Tessa: (laughs) Well, I think Jackie would far prefer Lenny Bruce's "How to talk Dirty and Influence People" but... Okay, yes she likes to stir things up, to say the least. But Jackie as the culprit???? I don't know.

But really, I can't say who done it- but I will say that I think Jackie has to some degree changed her evil ways. In that she has become more aware of her "influence" or effect on the people around her. I think Wallace, and to a lesser extent Veronica, has helped with that. Also, if Jackie was going to off a bunch of people- she might have made sure that Madison and assorted others were included. In fact, I don't think she'd take them out that way. I think it'd be far more torturous. But murder isn't really her style, I don't think.

duckyxdale: When I was onset for the Bloggers Press Day, Rob Thomas said that he was shocked at how the audience perceived Jackie because he always thought people would empathize with her (being an outsider and all) but instead they thought she was cold for double timing Wallace... were you as surprised by the reaction as well and did that influence your portrayal?

Tessa: Ummm, to be honest I was to some extent surprised. Especially with the heated reaction to Jackie's dislike of "Pride and Prejudice"- and while this may not win me any more fans... I must admit that in high school I far preferred the literature of the Beat generation to my assigned, albeit masterpieces, of classical work. So for that, like Rob, I thought Jackie was cool. She is this stuck up classy sassafrassy prissy, a la Paris Hilton but she reads Burroughs? I relished the contradiction.

But I think it's hard to introduce a character that is initially less than fuzzy into a very established world with well flushed-out characters- with whom you understand and emphasize with their motivations. I get it. Was some of the online hate hard to bare when I read it? Sure. Of course. But I decided to a.) stop reading it altogether and b.) realize that I don't do what I do to be liked or praised.

And more importantly that in any performance what people ultimately respect and are interested in is integrity. I think now playing a very evil witch for the project I'm working on reminds me of that. The audience doesn't have to like your character- what they have to do is believe it. And so throughout the season I worked hard to just hold onto that- keep trying to figure out- as the audience did- why Jackie is the way she is? What gives? You know. And worry less about how I, Tessa, was being perceived.

duckyxdale: "Aint No Magic Mountain High Enough" seemed to be a turning point for Jackie Cook as a character and shattered the ice queen persona. Is this sweet demeanor of Jackie's that we've witnessed since that episode the "real Jackie" or is it all an act? I mean, Jackie asking Charlie to the dance was hands down one of the sweetest and most telling moments we've seen. What gives? Plotting Ice Queen or Lonely Outsider Looking For Acceptance?

Tessa: Jackie moved from New York to Neptune and has truly undergone a transformation. I know a little about that myself because when my parents spilt- they did so across a coast- so I have been bicoastal between New York and Los Angeles since I was little. I think what that does to you is it makes you feel always in between. You are, in fact, never quite home. And I think Jackie is in between not only two homes- but also two people. I think she has the true desire to be good- but has impulses to be less than that, and unfortunately those are the impulses that have served her in the past.

I moved schools quite a lot as a child, and so I endured a lot of the teasing the "new kid" does. I think a lot of the way that I navigate through my life and the world is in part, been developed by that. I am inside a very shy introvert- but most people wouldn't get that about me based on my personality. I am super sensitive but I think I come off strong and sure of myself. I'd like to think the same of Jackie to a certain extent. So I think when she saw Charlie being picked on, she empathized immediately. Do I also think she is a diva who likes attention, validation, and always showing up with a date? Sure, so that was part of it too. But that's true of all people- the things we do are always connected to some need it serves in us. Plus, I mean, she wasn't going to go with Wallace- but she wasn't going to go alone- she saw an opportunity and snagged it. But deep down I think Jackie is a good person.

Jackie enrolled in the Veronica Mars School of Role Reversal... going from potential 09er to Java The Hut in a relative short period of time. Are her plans for Paris soon to be dashed guaranteeing you a slot in Season 3 (CW willing)?

Tessa: Who knows? If I tell you, I'd have to kill you. No really, high school in general is that. A bunch of people trying to figure out who they are. And all the stuff that happened with Jackie this year has only complicated that.

I think one thing that Jackie does- that a lot of people do- is try to escape when things get tough. The brief drug use we saw early on is an example of that. Maybe the Paris thing is a way of escaping the mess with her father? Maybe it's all a lie? Who knows? But she is a member of the French club, loves fashion, and must have espresso drinks made rapidly when she wants one... so I think Paris would suit her fabulously.

duckyxdale: On hiatus you'll be shooting the remake of "The Initiation of Sarah" a super campy 70's sudser which starred Morgan Fairchild. Last year you were in the remake of "When a Stranger Calls" who would play you in a remake of Veronica Mars?

Tessa: Are you politely teasing me? I think so. (Laughs) Hey Morgan Fairchild is going to be in this remake too (although she's not reprising her 1975 role). No one's beyond the remake in Hollywood.

Yeah, if they made a TV remake of Veronica Mars - like thirty years later... unlike Morgan, I guess I'd come back and be Jackie. You know, finally expose the truth of the pill popping we saw early in the season. Who knows? Maybe she was the way she was because she had gender confusion, and was planning to undergo gender reassignment- thus the pills. So in the remake I could be "Jack". And all along my animosity for Veronica was love. Maybe finally in the remake Veronica and I could be a couple. The network could break all kinds of boundaries with that plot line!

duckyxdale: In "Look Who's Stalking" Jackie reminded her possibly criminally corrupt Father that she learned about the birds and the bees "the hard way" - remind me, exactly how was that? Is this one of those nuggets the writers drop to keep us guessing until next season?

Tessa: Yep, I think it is. Or maybe not... (evil laugh) My lips are sealed. Although, Jackie is worldly enough to have been around the block- at least a little. And the bird and the bees come with the territory. So, you know. But if you ask me, any way you learn the B&B's is hard. So maybe it really means nothing more than what it means. Was that cryptic enough?

duckyxdale: You've done theatre, film, and television; which medium has influenced you most as an actress and do you hope to eventually settle into one of them more than another?

Tessa: My formative years (that sounds fancy) as an actress were spent doing theatre. In and out of high school, my serious training was in the doing of plays (mostly classics and Shakespeare). But when I first began acting as a child it was for camera and auditioning around town. After taking a pretty long break from that world- coming back to it the past year with VM and other projects- has been a little period of adjustment. Because, of course, each medium has different demands. But I feel at the core they are all essentially the same. Within the particular conventions of each medium and the specific material an actor strives to find the humanity and truth in the stories he/she tells. I love to play- and so I am happy to do it wherever I can.

I dream of continuing to work in each arena until the day I say goodbye to all. But I feel as though I owe the success I have had the past year in TV and film to the experience and exposure I gained working in the theatre- so I don't want to ever stray too far from that. But who knows, for now I am counting my blessings and "riding the wave" so to speak.

duckyxdale: You guest starred on a very memorable episode of "Cold Case" ... does Kathryn Morris' wild hair look as psychotic in person as it does on TV?

Someone needs to get to the bottom of that case, who told her to do her own hair in Season 1. Investigate (seriously though, she's amazing... but that hair!)

Tessa: Is that a question? And here I thought you wanted to ask me some questions about my inspirations for the part.

I don't know because I didn't really watch Cold Case before I did it, and have only seen a handful of episodes since. You know, it sucks to be TV sometimes. Especially when you're having a bad hair day. Which I'll be the first to tell you, I had a couple of those this season, right? Be honest... No don't be. (Giggles) Yeah, we're all entitled to our days - somehow people come to expect those on TV to be these sub-human superheroes with flawless outsides. Just not true. And for Kathryn's insides?... We only got to work together on the cool montage they do at the end- where past and present meet- but she was very kind and looks just as a pretty in person as she does on TV. Case solved.

After they tear down the High School set over there at Stu Segall Studios will you be able to keep the bathroom stall door that says... "Jackie Cook's a _______?"

Tessa: No, I think not. But I have put in a request to take home the wig that Percy Daggs (the third) wears... for sentimental reasons. We'll see. Just kidding!

He's all fro baby. No faking there. Nope, no set pieces. But I always like to keep a little something from each character- so I got some Jackie love from our awesome designer Sal Perez. He hooked it up. And they give out yearbooks- so that's cool.

duckyxdale: With the season winding down, Rob has said that he likes about 10-20% of the viewers to have figured out the big mystery and the rest to be surprised. When you found out the identity of the person(s) behind the bus crash and their motives what percentage did you fall into?

Tessa: Well, the finale surprised me when I got it- so I'm for the most part with the masses. The writers have some serious tricks up their sleeves, and I was crazy impressed.

But I guessed some of the plot pieces- all of Jackie's - I impressed myself. But I've got it a little easier than the viewers because I have all the scripts and I can bother the writers at lunch for clues.

Well I hope you all enjoyed the interview. Here's to hoping she doesn't die in tonights finale because I kinda love Jackie now! Please leave comments as Tessa herself may be popping by to read up and hell I'd like to know what you all thought!

Remember, the Season 2 Finale airs tonight on UPN at 9pm. Entitled "Not Pictured" we are sure to learn a whole buttload of info on the bus crash, Mayor Woody, Veronica's STD, and most importantly who lives and who dies for Season 3 over on The CW!

Here's a link to my Veronica Mars Bloggers Press Day if you're interested! It was a real shame to not meet Tessa, but we sure did get amazing screen time with Rob Thomas, Jason Dohring, Ryan, Kyle, Percy, and Sal the Wardrobe Guy!

If you're interested in purchasing a
I HEART Beaver T-shirt click here. Who doesn't Heart Beaver? Well besides those of us that Heart Dick!

**Check back tomorrow for a very fun cross-over blog about the finale of Veronica Mars starring two of your favorite Bloggers!


  • What a great interview, Dan! I have been loving Jackie more and more and there is so much potential to explore more with her character too, so I hope she will be back next season. It's great to realize that everyone involved with the show is just so darn nice! Tessa's photos were gorgeous; I hope she goes back to the curly hair though (from one curly-haired chick to another)!

    By Anonymous Donna, at 5/09/2006 02:18:00 PM  

  • It's so fun to hear from Tessa! I hope Jackie is around more next season! Congrats on the interview!

    By Blogger tvgirl13, at 5/09/2006 02:51:00 PM  

  • That was a great interview! I seriously heart you for asking about Cold Case. Tessa was just amazing in that episode. Loved what she had to say about Kathryn Morris as well.

    Like you, I have grown to really like Jackie. I never hated the character like others, but I find myself growing attached to her now. I hope she survives tonight as well.

    By Blogger TVFan, at 5/09/2006 03:14:00 PM  

  • I don't know why you wouldn't want Jackie to die because then you can hype your very own curse, The Ducky Curse where, unlike Lost where you drink and drive you die, you get interviewed by you and die.

    And why didn't get get to the pressing questions, like has she ever had a bout of the junger fever? Inquiring minds want to know.

    By Blogger Scooter, at 5/09/2006 03:29:00 PM  

  • Awesome interview Dan! Your questions were great.

    By Blogger tube talk girl, at 5/10/2006 12:32:00 AM  

  • Finally got a chance to read through this interview. Great stuff. Tessa sounds like a wonderfully funny and intelligent person.

    And I'd like to note that I actually never had a problem with Jackie's character on the show. I loved when she was able to one-up Veronica in "Blast From the Past" and I loved her when she was both bitchy and sweet. She was a great character and I hope that she might come back for a small arc sometime next season.

    By Anonymous Truemyth, at 5/11/2006 01:39:00 AM  

  • this girl is a bitch - trust me. She did me over. It's not acting it's type casting

    By Anonymous, at 3/13/2008 07:06:00 PM  

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