A Woman You Should Know: Deborah Ann Woll

Pop culture can’t seem get enough of superheroes, and every day, it seems, another film or TV series is released in good Marvel tradition. But this time around, the prominence of strong female comic book characters like Supergirl and Jessica Jones have viewers old and new feeling inspired—and we don’t mean just the guys.

After the launch of the Netflix original series Daredevil‘s second season, we spoke with its leading lady Deborah Ann Woll, who plays the role of Karen Page. (If the actress looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen her as the red-headed stunner in HBO’s True Blood). For season 2, Woll is looking forward to showing viewers just how much her character has grown and evolved. “I imagine that within the six months between the first season and the second season she’s done a lot of work on herself,” she says, careful not to spoil the plot for those who haven’t watched yet. “You know, she found out that she’s capable of something very dark, and I think every step she takes in season two is to try to be better than that dark person that she’s afraid of.”

Here, the actress talks about Daredevil, her personal style, role models and inspiration.

The battle between good versus evil is such a classic story archetype. How does Daredevil deal with this age-old conflict?

Daredevil is interesting. He exists in a grey world—a morally controversial world—and yet I feel like maybe because of his faith, because of how he was raised, it’s more comfortable for him to see the world in terms of good and evil. What I think this season does so well is it challenges him on that front. It asks him to open his perspective a bit and think that maybe there are “bad guys” that do good things and maybe there are “good guys” who do bad things.

It’s great to see so much hype around female comic book characters like yours, Jessica Jones, and Supergirl. What do you think this means for women?

It can only mean great things for women. You know, I like that we have a range in these characters, that their strengths lie not only in physical strength or prowess but they also lie in their ability to be vulnerable, in their intelligence—you know, qualities that are genderless—so that we don’t have to feel that in order for a woman to be strong, she [must] possess the qualities of a man, which is a mistake I think we’ve made before.

How do you describe your personal style?

Hobo? Can I say that? Hobo chic? I’m-painting-my-house chic? Most of my clothes have paint on them. I don’t quite know how that happened. I guess I do a lot of projects. But no, I love retro. I love anything that sort of feels like that wonderful period where I think of Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall. These women—who were really strong women—looked feminine but they used their curves and menswear to subvert the norm.

Who do you look up to as a role model?

My mother and my father. The things that matter to me and that I think are important qualities to have [are] graciousness and patience and humility and integrity and honesty. And those are all qualities that I learned from my parents and I hope to emulate the rest of my life.

Tell me about a book that you read that made a big impact on your life or your way of thinking?

I’m an actor, so the only acting book that ever sort of made sense to me, that ever felt was in line with my process, is a book called The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnellan. I re-read that once or twice every year, just to give myself new things to think about. It was fun this season on Daredevil. I basically read about a chapter an episode. It kind of [worked] out that way cause I was busy. It’s funny, each episode felt like a little experiment with what that particular chapter was talking about.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

I’m a puzzler. So I like crossword puzzles, and I like computer games. Even my Dungeons & Dragons that I love so much… you know, when I create levels and things… I like to [incorporate] puzzles into [the games] and come up with puzzles. I think part of the reason that happened is because Karen Page is kind of an amateur detective, so I’m just obsessed with puzzling apparently.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I never look that far ahead. It gets so scary when you look that far [laughing]. I hope I’m happy.