7 Questions With... Killing Eve star Jodie Comer: 'The murder scenes are fun to film!'
From fun with accents to stylish pyjamas and on-screen murders, Jodie Comer talks about playing Villanelle in BBC's hit thriller, Killing Eve.
When the first season of Killing Eve launched in 2018, it soon became a word-of-mouth hit on both sides of the pond.
With a stellar international cast, a whip smart script and a gripping plot, it's no wonder the show became a bona fide success, with countless awards under its belt, including an impressive horde at the TV Baftas.
Killing Eve season 2 is available on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, with Jodie Comer (Villanelle) and Sandra Oh (Eve Polastri) returning, alongside a new head writer in the form of Emerald Fennell (taking over from Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
After her Best Actress win at the TV Baftas, Liverpool-born Comer, 26, took part in a Q&A with host Pandora Sykes and press at London’s Curzon Soho cinema ahead of the launch of series 2.
Comer - who you might also recognise from Doctor Foster and My Mad Fat Diary - opened up to BT TV and other journalists about playing Villanelle in the second series.
***SPOILERS for Killing Eve series 1 ahead***
1. Villanelle loses none of her dark sense and wit in series 2. What drew you to her as a character?
She is so free, and she has no sense of consequence, or fear. I think in this day and age a lot of us have a lot of fear.
I remember Sally [Woodward Gentle, executive producer] and Phoebe [Waller-Bridge, executive producer] said “What would it be like to wake up and have no fear?”.
It is literally playing on set. You get to do all this crazy stuff and express all these emotions, or lack of emotions. It’s just so much fun to play.
2. There’s something really refreshing about the ambiguities in the female characters in Killing Eve, like Eve who is capable of stabbing someone, or Villanelle who’s capable of being empathetic. Was it refreshing to play a nuanced woman on screen?
Yeah. I feel extremely lucky that my past four or five roles have all been written by women, so I feel like a lot of the roles that I’ve played have been complex and challenging. Villanelle is the cherry on the cake.
That has actually been my experience so far, so there has kind of been a continuation of that. As an actress and a human being, you want to be challenged and you want to push yourself into new depths that you may have not been before.
These scripts and this show definitely gives me that.
3. Villanelle became a style icon in series 1, and in series 2 she’s abruptly brought down to earth, wearing these superhero pyjamas in Basildon. How do you think she feels about this complete change in status?
She claws her way back to her [designers like] Chloe alright, it just takes her a while. That’s another thing that’s so great, she’s completely stripped of her luxuries.
I remember them bringing me them pyjamas, above, for filming and I was like “no way”. But it was great to play that as well, and how you see past those pyjamas, because this woman is in such a dangerous position and somehow the pyjamas just become Villanelle.
She ends up working them. I actually think the pyjamas are the Molly Goddard moment of this series. But she absolutely gets her designer clothes back, which was fun to play with.
I always loved doing the costume fittings, especially when she’s playing certain characters. It’s a really fun part of playing her.
4. Could you tell the difference between the writing of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Emerald Fennell?
The writing is absolutely different. Phoebe and Emerald are so similar, but they’re genius writers within their own right.
I really feel like Emerald really captured the heart of the show, and the characters. I feel like we got a really strong start.
What was lovely about Emerald, and Phoebe, is that we had this opportunity between each block to get together and discuss the characters and the scenes, if there’s anything that doesn’t quite seem right, or any lines that don’t feel right.
5. You don't get much screen time with Sandra Oh this series. What’s your working relationship like?
Well we were like passing ships in season 1 really, which actually added to the tension when we did get to do that scene [when our characters met for the first time]. It felt really charged.
But in season 2 they do come into contact a little bit more… I wonder what circumstances that is!
Sandra’s incredible, from the moment I met her for our chemistry read, she’s extremely generous on and off-screen, and whenever we meet we find another piece of the puzzle.
We still don’t have a lot of the answers, which I don’t mind, I think it’s quite exciting.
6. Your accents are so convincing! Where do they come from?
Do you know where I think it comes from is [when I was] growing up, me and my Dad always used to impersonate silly accents that were on the telly, just joking around the house.
Me and my dad always used to impersonate silly accents on the telly, from doing that I've got an ear for it.
- Jodie Comer
I think from doing that, I have got an ear for it. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are harder than others, I have to work at it.
But for me it helps me because when I’m doing my own [Liverpool] accent, I find it harder to separate it from my own character for some reason, I don’t know.
But also, you don’t see many Scousers on the telly, so maybe we need to change that up a little bit! Me and Stephen [Graham]. It’s something I really enjoy doing.
When I was auditioning, I was told about the accents, and I was told that if you were asked whether you can ride a horse, you say yes, even if you can’t, so that’s what I did with the languages!
That was a terrifying but equally exciting part of playing her.
7. How do you prepare for murdering somebody on screen?
What I really enjoy about the murders on the show is that they’re not what you’d expect.
Honestly, they’re the most fun days on set, purely because they’re mostly outrageous.
There is one particular moment coming up towards the end of the series that is epic. It was shot over two days and it’s really physical.
It was really quite draining, but other than that it’s just so much fun. I don’t go home and have a little word with myself. It’s all OK.