‘She-Hulk’: Star Jameela Jamil and Director Anu Valia on Creating The Scariest Villain with Titania
"If someone wants to humiliate me and dress me down? There's truly nothing worse.”
Titania isn’t your typical Marvel villain in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk. Just like so many others she’s got enhanced strength, but that’s only the beginning of just how scary she can be. For starters, she has a huge social media presence (something Thanos could never), and when it comes time to fight her sworn enemy, Jennifer Walters — aka She-Hulk — she isn’t necessarily looking to defeat her hand-to-hand but rather humiliate her in the biggest possible way. Now that’s terrifying.
“That villain is the scariest type of villain,” The director of Episode 5, Anu Valia explains to Marvel.com. “As a woman, that ‘mean girl’ who wants your ass like that is the worst. There's nothing worse [than that]. If someone wants to beat me up, that's kind of fine. But if someone wants to humiliate me and dress me down? There's truly nothing worse.”
All this being said, there was only one person who could ever play this role on-screen: Jameela Jamil. As Valia adds, “Jameela was born to play this. She understands the role so deeply. She knew what she wanted to do. She’s a genius.”
Originally introduced briefly in the first episode, Titania bursts onto the scene, literally, trying to evade a traffic ticket in court. She slams through a neighboring wall to where Jen is getting ready to give her closing arguments and seeing the chaos that Titania has unleashed, after a little nudge, Jen goes green — She-Hulk green, that is. With a few swift punches, she’s defeated Titania. But oh, how this is going to come back to haunt Jen.
Titania might be out of sight and out of mind for a few episodes, but then she delivers a KO punch to Jen: She trademarks the name “She-Hulk.” Even though Jen hates the name, and still isn’t entirely onboard with being called “She-Hulk,” she faces off against Titania LLC. in court. And Jen wins! So now Jen has defeated Titania physically, and also legally, which only adds fuel to the fire. Better watch your back, Jennifer.
“She's just got this fearlessness that I envy in a way — but I don't want to be like her in any other way,” Star Jameela Jamil explains. “I enjoy the fact that she does not give a damn what anyone else thinks. She knows what she wants and she's going to go after it at any cost. It's fun watching a woman be so disobedient and so reckless with the social contract. So yeah, I love her.”
It was Jamil’s idea to give Titania a very specific “LA influence in her voice and mannerisms,” with Valia adding the character is “an amalgam of people and a feeling that's really just masking deep insecurity.”
That’s incredibly apparent come Episode 6 when Titania crashes Lulu’s wedding, which Jen is begrudgingly attending as a bridesmaid. Hellbent on bringing down Jen however she can, Titania challenges her to a fight and the ladies go at it. Just when you think we’re going to get the fight of the century, things go horribly amiss.
Valia loved the idea of turning this brewing fight on its head and making it even more tragic for Titania in the end — in the middle of the fight, she falls flat on her face in front of a huge group of people, completely destroying her perfect look and smashing her teeth in the most horribly tragic way. Don’t look at her!
“You think it's going to be a big fight,” Valia continues. “It plays around with your expectations, and instead, it's just like, oh, her facade has been ruined and she can't even think about fighting now because she's completely humiliated. That's really all it's about. It's not about her beating up She-Hulk. It's more like she feels so small and her veneer has been broken, quite literally. Because of that, she can't continue on.”
“She's so humiliated everyone's filming her and putting it on [social media],” Jamil adds. “You really see her vulnerability and hopefully feel a bit sorry for her. But she's just a maniac. I've never met anyone quite like her.”
Also, Jamil would like to go on record about those veneers. In between bursts of laughter just thinking about them, she must confess, “those teeth are not my fault. I'm sorry about them! And I so welcome being dragged and meme’d because there's no excuse for those teeth. I will lead the mob against myself because of those teeth.”
“Those [teeth] were the only ones we had because we wanted to break her veneers. That was what I was given. At least the character is so cartoonish in every other way that I think we almost get away with it. I have great photographs from that that I can't wait to put on the internet. But yeah, I officially apologize for everyone having to see that.”
Even though on-screen Titania’s clearly not having a good time, behind-the-scenes Jamil loved every second of it. “That episode is so well written. That episode was the first thing I was ever sent of the script. I remember just laughing out loud at some of the lines. I get to misbehave so much.”
As she feels the wedding with what little dignity she has left intact (and the wedding cake), it’s hard to not wonder if this the last we’ve seen of Titania and her grudge against Jen? Only time will tell.
“I think that Titania has been taught a lesson and very publicly humbled,” Jamil adds. “For now, she's going to calm down. But I don't believe this woman is ever going to stop plotting. I don't think it's ever over for Titania until it's over. I think just, for now, she's licking her wounds and biding her time. But if they meet again, who knows?”
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