Entertainment Television

Monday 21 October 2019

‘I think some people are just bad – Villanelle shouldn’t be redeemed’ - Killing Eve's Jodie Comer

Killing Eve was an instant success – and no one is more pleased than stars Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh. As the thriller returns, the talented pair tell Georgia Humphreys what’s in store

Sandra Oh, left, and Jodie Comer (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Sandra Oh, left, and Jodie Comer (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh attend the premiere of BBC America and AMC's 'Killing Eve' at ArcLight Hollywood on April 01, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Georgia Humphreys

At the Bafta TV awards last month, there was one show in particular that everyone was talking about.

BBC America’s Killing Eve – a crime thriller which also has viewers laughing out loud – bagged three prizes at the ceremony, including best drama series, best leading actress for Jodie Comer and best supporting actress for Cork star Fiona Shaw.

The first series was written by Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Call the Midwife actress Emerald Fennell is lead writer this time round) and followed a cat-and-mouse game between MI5 security officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and ruthless assassin Villanelle (Comer).

The eight episodes culminated in an incredibly tense scene between the pair (Eve stabbed Villanelle in a Paris apartment, remember?).

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve.
Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh in Killing Eve.

So, what happens next?

You’ll be excited to hear the first episode of the new series jumps straight back into the action.

Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve (BBC America)
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve (BBC America)

“I just feel like what was tricky and challenging about picking the show up 30 seconds later is that you have to start with that type of energy,” says Oh (47), before Comer (26) elaborates: “A lot of heavy breathing. A lot of being dizzy and hyperventilating!”

Canadian Oh, who previously starred in hit US medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, adds: “In the first two episodes, Eve really tries to ground herself in the normalcy of her past life, which she isn’t able to in the next episodes.”

Sandra Oh, left, holds Jodie Comer's hand as they arrive at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Sandra Oh, left, holds Jodie Comer's hand as they arrive at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

What about Villanelle – where is she at mentally when series two begins?

“We haven’t seen her this way before, particularly physically,” notes Liverpool-born Comer, whose other TV roles include Doctor Foster and My Mad Fat Diary.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, from left, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, from left, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“I think she’s surprised by how she’s incapable of doing a lot physically – she can’t get past that.

“She’s extremely vulnerable. I think she’s genuinely scared for her own life, which we all know is the most important thing to her.

(L-R) British actress Jodie Comer, Canadian actress Sandra Oh and Irish actress Fiona Shaw arrive for BBC America and AMC's
(L-R) British actress Jodie Comer, Canadian actress Sandra Oh and Irish actress Fiona Shaw arrive for BBC America and AMC's "Killing Eve" season 2 premiere at the Arclight on April 1, 2019 in Hollywood. (Photo by Chris Delmas / AFP)

“What I really enjoy about the opening two episodes is the people she meets along the way, who she uses to help her get out of the sticky situation she’s in.”

We’ve seen Villanelle commit some shocking crimes in the past, and there’s plenty more of that to come in this series.

Asked whether she thinks Villanelle can ever be redeemed, Comer responds: “I think some people are bad and that’s what they are, and I don’t think she should be redeemed.

“People think they have like glimpses of hope where people go, ‘Oh, my god, this woman is feeling remorse’, or any sort of human emotion, and then all of a sudden she will do something that completely contradicts that.

“And I think within the show, what we’re enjoying a little bit more, definitely in the second series, is living and looking through those moments.”

As the show progressed, it became clear that Villanelle and Eve have an obsession with each other, and part of that is perhaps down to sexual tension.

An important part of this series is the implications of the stabbing at the end of series one – it’s as though that scene represented having sex with the enemy, but it affects both women in a completely different way.

“Symbolically, the penetration of that, it’s very intimate, so Villanelle’s interpretation of the stabbing being an intimate act is not wrong,” suggests Oh.

“I love playing on that symbolic level and then also playing the reality as much as I can – in that it’s a television show – of what happens, the consequences.”

A stylistic element of Killing Eve that really stands out is the fact it’s filmed all over Europe – we can expect to see cities including Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and London on our screens.

Oh suggests that this formula gives the show a James Bond/Jason Bourne-type feel.

“But when you see our show, you’ll see the back of a train station, you won’t see inside the train station,” she elaborates.

“They’re not going to Rome in a way that you’ve seen Rome before, because we don’t have the budget to fly over Rome with a camera.

“But it ends up being more specific and more genuine and more interesting.”

What Comer likes about filming on location is how it means everyone hangs out after a day’s work.

“When you’re shooting in London, you do a shooting day, you go home, do whatever you want to do, but when you’re away everyone’s just coming together.

“Like, remember when we were in Romania? That was a wild two weeks!”

Comer admits it would be “crazy” not to feel pressure for the new episodes to live up to fans’ expectations.

“But when you get on set, that definitely gets shut out,” she reasons, “because then it’s just about the material and making sure that you’re doing the best that you possibly can do.

“You can’t think about other people’s opinions; you just have to focus on your work. But yeah, you want everyone to enjoy it just as much as they did the first time.”

Killing Eve, which is adapted from Luke Jennings’ Codename Villanelle novellas, feels like a breath of fresh air when it comes to the spy genre, thanks to its tone, style and the fact it revolves around two complex, powerful and flawed women.

There’s no denying its passionate and brilliant lead stars are delighted by the impact the programme has had on audiences.

“We’re ecstatic about the reception!” Oh says.

“It’s very, very difficult to make television, and it’s almost impossible to have a show break through, especially now. So, the fact that it has, we’re all naturally thrilled.”

Killing Eve is on BBC One from Saturday

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