TV Interview: Jodie Comer on BBC Three's new thriller Killing Eve.
The BBC’s new eight-part thriller, Killing Eve, has been adapted by Bafta Award-winning writer and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) from the novellas Codename Villanelle. Produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd (The Durrells, SS-GB), Killing Eve centres on two very different women.
Eve is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfil her fantasies of being a spy. Villanelle is a mercurial, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her. Killing Eve topples the typical spy-action thriller as these two fiercely intelligent women, equally obsessed with each other, go head to head in an epic game of cat and mouse.
Starring Sandra Oh as Eve, and Jodie Comer as Villanelle, the series - a combination of brutal mischief making and pathos - is filled with sharp humour, originality and high-stakes action.
Jodie Comer tells us more…
What sort of world will the audience be entering with Killing Eve?
The series follows Villanelle’s assignments, with Eve becoming aware of a possible link between these kills. Eve and Villanelle’s lives are very, very different. I feel like when you’re with Eve, it feels like a totally different world to the one that Villanelle is in. Villanelle is very high-paced, and energetic, and she’s always in some extravagant place, wearing ridiculously fancy, eccentric clothes. And she’s pretty much always on her own, she’s a bit of a lone wolf.
What drives Villanelle to do what she does?
I think what drives Villanelle is her freedom. I feel like she’s had very little freedom in her life before now. She lives in Paris in this amazing apartment and she gets a kick from doing these kills - it excites her and gives her purpose. She’s got control. She does her kills, she gets her money, she spends her it on what she likes, and she has no one around her to take that from her, or tell her what to do - she has total freedom. She has very little remorse, and she’s cool with that.
Do you have anything in common with your character?
I’m scared to say yes because she’s so crazy! She likes to spend her money on clothes, and she always seems to be eating, I’m guilty on both counts. I see her as an actress in many ways because she has so many different personas, so my way into her was to think of it as an act. She thrives off being an actress. She speaks so many languages, and often has a set costume or hair depending on her mission, just a totally different life that she morphs into.
How important was it to you to have a strong key team of women behind and in front of the camera?
It's always important. What's so amazing with both the lead characters is that they can be weak and they are vulnerable, and I guess in turn that’s what makes them strong. We have the preconception about assassins on screen, they’re always immaculate, and they do everything with such ease and precision. And what really attracted me to Villanelle was she was a bit messy, a bit slutty, and she had humour.
How has it been working with Kim? What does he bring to the role of Konstantin?
Kim is amazing, he’s got such energy and charm. It was so important for Villanelle and Konstantin’s relationship to have closeness and warmth, and we’ve definitely found that. And there’s a real depth. Even though this is a work relationship, you can tell that there’s something more underneath all of that. He cares a lot about her, and she cares a lot about him. I think people will enjoy them together on screen.
How has the Costume Department been helping create the look of Villanelle?
The costumes are absolutely incredible; every time you see her she could be a different person. Costume Designer, Phoebe De Gaye’s been amazing - she’s the brains and the vision behind it all. To be honest, I didn’t really know what I thought Villanelle would wear, and then Phoebe brought all this remarkable stuff in, and I was like, ‘yup, perfect’. I don’t think she has a particular style, it’s just anything goes, depending on the mood. Big, bright and bold, I don’t think she cares as long as it’s expensive.
Can you tell us anything about the mysterious ‘12’?
Villanelle doesn’t really know an awful lot. She knows that Konstantin is the guy who’s in charge of her, and she knows there is something bigger above him that’s telling him what needs to happen. She becomes more aware of this ‘12’ entity halfway through the series, and asks Konstantin. He tells her she shouldn’t ask anymore, and she should stop there, which she doesn’t because she doesn’t cope very well with being told what to do. This really begins to test their relationship. If we are fortunate enough to be re-commissioned, then I think that series would definitely explore who or what the ‘12’ is, which would be nice to know.
What makes Killing Eve unique for you?
What I love is the balance of humour and darkness within the series; there is so much humour, but then there are so many moments which are quite shocking and brutal. That balance is so hard to get right. And I just think there’s something so relatable about Villanelle, something very curious about her, and likeable, which I don’t think I’ve seen before.
What has been your favourite scene to shoot?
There’s a great scene when Villanelle and Eve meet for the first time. Villanelle lets herself into Eve’s house, and they have a big confrontation. That scene was brilliant to film - our characters know so much about each other, and the characters are always talking about each other - so for them to finally meet for the first time was a big, big moment.