Killing Eve: Filming 'epic' murder scenes, Villanelle's comic pyjamas and nailing the accents - Jodie Comer's Secrets From the Set
Jodie Comer, who stars as assassin Villanelle in Killing Eve series 2, reveals what goes on behind-the-scenes of filming for the cult spy thriller...
Killing Eve is officially the biggest show on BBC iPlayer ever, and we are binge-watching the current series to our heart's content following its recent release.
Series 2 of the spy thriller has landed on the streaming service as a complete box set, after the success of series 1 which has been requested on BBC iPlayer a staggering 49 million times to date.
It picks up where series 1 left off, literally, with Villanelle’s game of cat and mouse continuing across the world.
To promote the launch of season 2 on the BBC, Jodie Comer (who plays assassin Villanelle), Fiona Shaw (MI6 boss Carolyn Martens), and the show’s executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle took part in a Q&A with BT.com and other journalists about the brand new series.
From filming the 'epic' murder scenes to going 'stir crazy' with Julian Barratt in a 'boiling hot' Essex house, the cast and crew revealed what went on behind-the-scenes of the Bafta-winning show, spilling the Secrets from the Set...
***SPOILERS for Killing Eve series 1 and the first few episodes of series 2 ahead***
Going stir crazy filming non-stop in a boiling hot Essex house
At the start of series 2, we find Villanelle on the run, until she manages to jump into an unsuspecting family’s car in Calais and escape to the glamorous setting of Basildon in Essex.
After making a dash for it in her superhero pyjamas (more on those below), Villanelle preys on a local chap called Julian (Julian Barratt) in a local supermarket.
Mild-mannered and a little on the shy side, Villanelle expects him to be a good Samaritan and offer her a nice, warm place to stay.
Which he does.
Except he’s not as innocent as she thinks.
Of Villanelle’s false assumption, Comer explains: “She gets it wrong. She thinks she has this guy sussed out, and she gets it so wrong, and she has to find a way out of that. She’s so out of her depth, she’s so desperate.”
What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between Villanelle and Julian as each tries to outsmart each other, which Comer tells journalists was as fun to film as it looks on screen.
She says exuberantly: “It was honestly the best episode to film. Julian and I had the most fun. You know when the crew’s giggling mid-take, you think ‘we’ve all lost it here, we’ve all gone a bit crazy’.
“But what was lovely about that was that Damon Thomas directed it and he creates such a safe space, and encourages the absurd and the silliness, and dares you to take risks. You can also trust him to say ‘that’s a little too much, take it down a peg’.
“I think you can feel that on screen. I think you can feel how much fun me and Julian had on that set, I think it really comes out.”
Sally Woodward Gentle, the show’s executive producer, adds that the pair were a little mischievous on set.
She confesses: “It was such a joy seeing Jodie and Julian work together, and working with Damon and the rest of the team.
"Watching the rushes [unedited footage] as well, when halfway through filming you do this little dance. There’s a brilliant outtake that’s very naughty.”
Comer responds that filming non-stop in a boiling hot Essex house made them go a little stir crazy at times!
She says: “It was non-stop. I think we were in that house for a week, and it was the one week of sun that we had, and it was so ridiculously hot.
“If you’re locked on set for that long everyone just goes a bit crazy, don’t they Fiona? Crazy to start off with, then it just gets a bit out of hand.
“It’s so nice when you can tell that the crew are excited and inspired by what they’re seeing. It makes you all want to do your best work. That was definitely my highlight of filming series 2.”
Fiona Shaw, who plays Carolyn, adds: “We arrived when they had been filming in the house for three days, murdering each other.
“There were no angles to take the shot from. There were cameras hanging from every step!”
Filming those 'epic' murder scenes on set
In series 1, Villanelle left a trail of high-profile murders across several European countries, and from a hair pin through the eyeball to poison in a perfume bottle, the young assassin wasn’t afraid to use creative methods to carry out her attacks.
Comer, 26, says the murder scenes are the most fun to film because they’re so outrageous.
The Liverpool-born actress reveals: "Do you know what I really actually 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."
The former Doctor Foster star adds that while there’s one murder scene in series 2 that’s particularly gruelling, most of the time she doesn't lose sleep over her character's killing sprees.
She says: "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 dont go home and have a little word with myself. It’s all OK."
Jodie's reaction to *those* superhero pyjamas in the script
Villanelle’s fashion choices were a huge talking point from series 1 - arguably as big as the characters and the plot itself.
Series 1 costume designer Phoebe de Gaye dressed her to kill in a high-end wardrobe full of labels such as Burberry and Miu Miu, with Vogue labelling it "the most fashionable show on TV".
Series 2 starts off on very different footing, with Villanelle wearing a combination of hospital gowns, clothes she’s found discarded in the street, and a pair of boys' superhero pyjamas, above.
Of her first reaction to those comic book print PJs, she confessed she couldn’t believe this was her glamorous character's wardrobe.
She says: "I remember them bringing me them pyjamas 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."
Luckily for her, Villanelle's high-end wardrobe indeed makes a comeback later in the series.
Comer explains: "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.
"But she absolutely gets her 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."
Jodie nailing the array of different accents
Part of Villanelle's character involves dressing up in various disguises, and how better to disguise her true self than with a fake accent?
In the first two episodes of series 2 alone, we see Comer put on a Russian, French and received pronunciation English accent (she’s got a strong Liverpudlian accent in real life, which fans are surprised by).
Needless to say, Comer has become quite the whizz at speaking in different accents and languages, and confessed she lied in her audition about her accent skills.
"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. It’s something I really enjoy doing."
The young actress added that her knack for accents comes not from drama school, but from mimicking accents with her dad, Jimmy.
"Do you know where I think it comes from is growing up, me and my Dad have always impersonated silly accents that were on the telly, just joking around the house.
"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 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]."
The 'beautiful' filming locations the cast and crew travelled to
For series 1, the crew filmed on location around the world, with the first episode featuring scenes in London, sun-soaked shots in Tuscany, plus Paris and Vienna, alone.
Series 2 begins in Paris, above, before [spoiler alert] Villanelle travels to Basildon, Essex in England.
Revealing where fans can expect to see the show to visit in series 2, executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle jokes to BT.com: "The whole season's set in Basildon!"
She later confirmed: "We do go to some other, lovely, exotic places. I think it’s fair to say in Europe, but Europe's so beautiful, and we are all part of Europe and it’s very important to show that.
"It is exotic and it's very pretty. They were spotted in Amsterdam, and they were papped somewhere else in Italy…"
Working with the 'incredible and generous' Sandra Oh
Despite being the two lead characters in the show, Comer and co-star Sandra Oh, 47, shared very few scenes in series 1 - largely because they spent most of the series hunting each other down.
Comer confesses the pair were like "passing ships" in season 1, which she says added to the tension when they got to do their first scene together.
"It felt really charged," she says.
Fans of both actresses will be pleased to know that the pair share more screen time in series 2, which Comer is also grateful for.
She teased: "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."
At the 2019 Critics' Choice Awards, the Grey's Anatomy star had nothing but adoration for her co-star also.
She dedicated her award for Best Actress in a Drama Series to "my obsession, my other half," calling Jodie "the person who's pushed me to the limit".
"When it's just the two of us on set, the entire world goes away," Sandra gushed. "I'm so appreciative of your trust and your talents."
Killing Eve seasons 1-3 are available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.