Whether as a punk-rock vigilante or a headstrong public defender, Jessica Camacho's performances have made a unique impact on the fall TV season. The actress has become a bonafide fan-favorite in the world of genre TV in particular, as Sophie Foster on Sleepy Hollow, Cynthia Reynolds/Gypsy on The Flash, and Michelle Vargas on Another Life. In addition to playing Emily Lopez on All Rise, Camacho can currently be seen as Pirate Jenny, a supporting character on HBO's Watchmen. Pirate Jenny, who seems to be inspired by the iconic song of the same name, is described as "an androgynous and lustful bisexual cop" who is "an anarchist at heart", and has played an interesting supporting role in the battle between the Tulsa PD and a white supremacist group.
We recently got a chance to chat with Camacho about all things Watchmen, and about what it's like to be part of such a beloved and unique adaptation. In the process, we talked about working alongside Regina King, Gypsy's latest plot twist on The Flash, and her love for The Golden Girls.
ComicBook.com: I'm super excited that you're a part of Watchmen, and I've loved seeing your scenes on the show thus far. What was the process like of getting on board this project?
Jessica Camacho: I got the audition notice and they were using a code name for it, so I didn't know what it was. I saw it and was like, "Oh this sounds interesting." And it was the description for Pirate Jenny - I can't even remember if they used her name, the name Pirate Jenny, in the audition - but the way they described her, it was just so far out. I was like, "What is this?!" They described her as like wearing an eye patch, I think. She's wearing a patch, and she's just really rough around the edges, and they gave this wild back story for her. She was just so different and so punk rock and so avant-garde, and I was scared. I was really scared. I didn't know if I was bold enough to pull this off.
I was supposed to go in for Vicky Thomas, the casting director, and I was like, "Do I go in wearing this eye patch?" I was just nervous, because this character, she's so different. She's such a pirate, but a punk rock anarchic version of a pirate and this is so different from anything I'd ever done. And I thought "I don't know if I can do this, man."
I went to the costume store and I got an eye patch and I was like, "I'm going to go in, I'm going to wear the eye patch, and put my leather jacket on, and be this gnarly depiction of what I think she is." At the last minute, I was like "Okay, no eye patch. Just go in there and just like give it all you got. Just throw yourself into the story."
I didn't know what I was going to do, just went in there and I just connected to what was on the page, which was this amazing story of how this person came to be who they were. I just kind of allowed myself to connect to this wild character in a very real way and it freaking worked.
I think I got the call that I booked it... Oh my God, this is so funny. I was in Mexico on vacation. I had just gotten off the plane, my suitcase is still on my shoulder. I get the call and they're like, "Hey, can you come right back? Because you're going to start filming Watchmen." I was like, "Wait, what?", and then I was like, "Oh my God. Watchmen? Oh my God." I was freaking out. I was like, "But wait a minute. I just got to Mexico. Can I have a margarita first?"
I ended up cutting my trip short. I stayed in Mexico a few days and then I had to go turn around, fly to Atlanta and get ready to start on this freaking epic story. It was completely worth missing out in Mexico. I mean I was totally fine with that, because once I got to Atlanta and I saw who I was playing and I saw this world coming together, I was like, "Oh man, this is probably the coolest thing I've ever done."prevnext
You mentioned the eye patch and the leather jacket, so I have to ask about your costume. Because seeing it in the show, it seems really practical and comfortable, but then you have the fishnet mask, which seems like an interesting challenge.
[laughs] That fishnet mask, that was a thing. Because I enjoy snacks. I like to eat. I am always hungry and that definitely posed a problem. It was a thing.
I love my costume. I've never been so comfortable in my life on set and in front of the camera. It is the most comfortable, bad-ass costume. I love the dark, avant-garde, punk rock elements for her. It's baggy and dope. You can't wear that jacket and those boots and not feel like the most badass version of yourself. It's impossible.
But the mask was interesting, man. It left indents in my face, which was not cute. I had to drink all my beverages through a very tiny thin straw. But it was also really liberating. It was really liberating to be behind the mask, and you can see the appeal. Once you put one on, you understand the appeal of why we're so obsessed with masked Avengers, because of the mystery. It's a mystery. What are you running from by putting on the mask? What are you running towards by putting on the mask? What are you saying - and what are you screaming - to the public about who you are and what you want to represent? What are you hiding from? It's so interesting, once you put on the mask, you are confronted with all those things.
But it's also, as an actor, extremely liberating to not be so hyper-aware of what your face looks like on camera. You're just very connected to the intention of what you're doing there in that scene, at that moment. I loved it. If I had the choice I would wear a mask in all of my roles. I don't know how well that would work out as [All Rise's] Emily Lopez in the courtroom. It might be a little bizarre. But it's very, very, very, very liberating. It's awesome.prevnext
Were you familiar with the source material of Watchmen before you signed on, or was it something that you dove into after being cast?
I went in mostly blind. I had seen the movie, which I really dug. I thought it was awesome. But I didn't understand that the movie was like a frame by frame retelling of the original book. I hadn't read it, but then I got cast and of course, I decided to read it. I'm so late to the party. It's like, "Oh wait, this thing's really cool you guys! This is so different!", while everybody else in the world already knows that and why the show is being made. But I was like, "Wow, there's something really special here." I just thought it was so amazing. I was so blown away.
I didn't realize how dark it was. I didn't realize how raw it was, how much it was like putting a mirror up to our society and calling attention to the ugliness. Humanity and greed and power and corruption and lies and all these things. I was really floored, like really blown away. It just heightened my excitement to be part of something so epic and so important.
I love that we're seeing more and more projects in a sci-fi realm, and in the comic book realm, that are actually tapping into the things that we need to pay attention to, the things that we're actually experiencing in our society. Not even just our society, but in the world right now. The practices that we allow, the attitudes that we allow, the divisive nature of humanity. I love it when those things are explored in the crazy, beautiful, exciting world of comic books and sci-fi. Because it's calling attention to those matters, but it's doing it in such a badass way. And I think Watchmen does that really well.prevnext
I have to ask what it's been like working alongside Regina King because her performance this season has just been on a whole other level. I was wondering what it's like to be working alongside her for that.
Her performance in everything is insane. I was so excited to work next to her because she's so talented and she so deep and she throws herself into whatever her roles are. I was so excited, and honestly getting to be in a scene with her and watch her work up close was really just awesome. She is so hardworking. She is so positive. When she was working on Watchmen there was so much going on in her life, she was traveling so much and awards and all this stuff. And yet whenever she was on set, she was positive, she was in it, she's a leader. She's very much a leader.
It was very easy to follow her lead of just being a badass, hard-working, talented, awesome, awesome actor. She just did not disappoint in any way. She's so kind. And whenever I saw her she'd just give me the biggest hug. She didn't know me, you know what I mean? I was so nervous, like "Oh God, I don't know. I don't want to mess it up here. Don't fire me!" I was just so happy to be there, and for her to see me and welcome me and embrace me like that, it just meant the world to me. I just can't say enough good about her.prevnext
Is there anything you can tease about what's in store for Pirate Jenny in the episodes that are to come?
I can't tease anything. They kept me in the dark and they did it on purpose. They want everyone on this ride as it happens, you know what I mean? They are the creators of the show. They've gone to great lengths to make sure that no part of the story or where it's going kind of sneaks out. They want everyone to kind of go on this ride together.
I can just say that Jenny is part of this dynamic intertwined, interwoven, beautiful tapestry of a world that Damon has created. And that we're just scratching the surface of what the Watchmen is. Just scratching the surface. I really can't say more than that, because how do you simplify something that's so meaningful and dope and deep? We just have to kind of keep diving in. I hope everyone just enjoys the dive, the deep dive you're taking into the world.
What has it been like seeing the response to the episodes thus far?
I think it's exciting. I think at first, every article you read was like, "How are people going to respond? How are the hardcore fans going to feel?" The fact that people are loving it, and critically loving it and receiving it and are blown away by it, is so cool. It's just I think there was that initial relief of like, "Okay, okay, okay. People are on board." But yeah, it's been really cool.prevnext
I have to ask about The Flash. I know a lot of fans of the show, myself included, were kind of surprised by your character's death earlier this season. I was wondering if you've experienced any of that response to the twist?
Yeah, I've definitely gotten wind of it. People loved Cynthia and Cisco. People love Gypsy, which I'm so grateful for. But you know, does anything ever end in the multiverse?
That was my next question, because, between the multiverse and time travel, there are obviously so many ways for a dead character to come back. So if you had the opportunity to, would you want to return?
Would you want to potentially play an alternate version of Gypsy, like one from another Earth?
That'd be dope. That's what is so awesome about this genre. Anything is possible, right? Look, who's to say there's not other versions of us, our doppelgangers. Our alternate reality selves are the selves of the expressions of us that live on the different planes of existence. The universe is infinite. In reality, the universe is infinite. I believe in possibility, and I love to see that mirrored in our stories, in our art, in our sci-fi, in our comic books, in our characters. So yeah, that would be super interesting. Like Gypsy with a kick? Gypsy 2.0? I think, yeah, again, anything is possible in the multiverse.prevnext
You've been in so many different kinds of sci-fi and genre projects, but I wanted to know what are you nerdy about?
I love that question. Definitely nerdy about the Golden Girls, hardcore. I've seen every episode several times. I used to be really nerdy about books and trying to get back into reading. Reading was my first love. I had every book in the Nancy Drew series. That kind of kicks off everything for me. I wish I still had that collection. I'm like, "What dusty box in what forgotten storage unit are those books?" I would give anything to have them back. They're pretty collectors' items now. But I read every single one, and I was so deeply invested in every single one. That really I think is where I developed my imagination, my thirst to embodies character and like to be inside of a story. So like reading is definitely been my biggest, biggest love throughout my life.
And then I'm nerdy about Tarantino. I'm obsessed with Tarantino.
Is there a franchise you haven't gotten to be a part of yet that would be your dream?
I guess they're done, but... Lord of the Rings is like done done, right?
They're making a TV show on Amazon.
Stop! Are you serious?
They are! I don't know if they've started filming, but they just got renewed for a second season. So they're expanding the mythos in that way.
Oh my god! Well, there you go. Freaking Lord of the Rings, hands down. Let's put that into the universe.
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.prev