Entertainment

Monday 19 August 2019

Phoebe Waller-Bridge reveals reason for lack of nudity in Fleabag

The actress said she wanted the language to be the thing that made her exposed.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Ian West/PA)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said it was important that her character in Fleabag never appeared naked in the show, but her speech was so candid that it would feel as though she did.

The actress, who created the BBC comedy based on her one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe, said she had feared nudity earlier in her career.

She told The Hollywood Reporter: “As a young actress, I used to find it really intimidating because you’d see so many actors on stage and screen and they’d all have to do it and so you knew there was a ticking clock — ‘If I want to be an actress, I am going to have to do that.’

“And then the ones that we’d see were these perfect, gorgeous girls and it distracts me as an audience member. I’m thinking about those actors’ bits.

“But then this play came along (2nd May 1997, in which Waller-Bridge appeared in 2009), and I had to have my top off for 20 minutes but it was really powerful in the scene.

“My character taking her top off freaks the other guy in the scene out so much that he starts behaving in this terrified way because she is using it as this power game.

“And I thought ‘I know how to play that.’ So, I’m playing my nudity rather than just (being naked).

She continued: “I am not nude at any point in the show. No, it was really important to me that I never showed anything, but because she is so candid with her language, it feels like I do.”

Waller-Bridge, who will perform her show for the final time in London later this summer, said she is still trying to emulate certain elements of her creation.

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag (Luke Varley/PA)

She said: “For better or worse, Fleabag says what she thinks in the moment, and I’m still learning how to do that.

“There are so many things, like fear, in the way. And the more you become in the public sphere, the more you start checking yourself all the time because you can hear how people can f*** with your words.

“So I write women who don’t give a shit because I am teaching myself how to be one.”

She also addressed her decision not to appear in the hit drama Killing Eve, which she developed for television based on the novella by Luke Jennings.

She said: “With Killing Eve, I felt very early on that it just didn’t feel right (to be in it) and I don’t really know why. I felt like ‘I am not in there. I can’t see it.’

“And we had a conversation with the producers and I spent about 15 minutes trying to turn one of the characters into something I could play. And the character was going ‘Oh, I don’t want you anywhere near me.’

“So, there are times when they are having so much fun, all of these amazing actors, and you just want to get involved and have a go with everyone. But it’s a different experience with something like Fleabag.

“That character comes from the depths of me. I was completely convinced and had said with a great amount of smug artistic integrity that I would not come back for a second series. And then I had an idea of how I could play with the form again.”

PA Media

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