Jodie Comer talks Killing Eve and working with Cork's Fiona Shaw

Jodie Comer gives Georgia Humphreys the inside story on the new series of Killing Eve, which she stars in alongside Irish actress Fiona Shaw
Jodie Comer talks Killing Eve and working with Cork's Fiona Shaw
Jodie Comer as Villanelle. Photo Credit: Des Willie/BBCA

Jodie Comer gives Georgia Humphreys the inside story on the new series of Killing Eve, which she stars in alongside Irish actress Fiona Shaw

The last couple of years have seen Jodie Comer become a global star.

Two series of the hit show Killing Eve (with a third launching this month), Bafta and Emmy award wins, and Hollywood movie roles - the Liverpudlian, 27, has been busy.

Which explains why, when asked how she’s dealing with the coronavirus lockdown, she says she’s trying to see it as a chance to slow down.

“I was shooting a film with Ridley Scott, which has now been put on hiatus - like the rest of the world,” says the actress, who also filmed action thriller Free Guy alongside Ryan Reynolds in 2019 (set for release this year).

“As much as I’d definitely want to be carrying on with that, I’ve actually been able to come home, unpack like seven suitcases - because I haven’t been here - and I’ve thrown out so much rubbish.

“And to have a bit of stillness, and be stationary - I’m a bit embarrassed to say I’m kind of enjoying it.”

However, she’s very aware that, at the time of our chat, she’s only one week into lockdown.

“You can come back and ask me that in a couple of weeks, and I’m sure the answer may be very different!” she notes.

“I think we’ve all just got to take it day by day.”

Comer is so lovely to chat to, it’s easy to forget how, in BBC America’s Killing Eve, she plays chilling psychopath and terrifyingly skilled assassin Villanelle.

The thriller, which has plenty of funny scenes as well as brutal murders, explores a cat-and-mouse game between Villanelle and British intelligence officer Eve Polastri (former Grey’s Anatomy star, Sandra Oh).

As the story has progressed, it’s become clear Villanelle and Eve are obsessed with each other - and part of that is perhaps down to sexual tension.

Series two ended explosively, with Villanelle shooting Eve in Rome, after she refused to run away with her.

When series three starts, it’s six months later, and we find Villanelle in Barcelona.

“Blissfully in denial”, the killer is trying to carry on with her life and have “normal experiences”, teases Comer. But the question is, how will she react when she realises Eve isn’t dead after all?

As well as a plot full of twists and turns, the show has become famous for its unique style and how it takes us all over Europe.

This time that included Romania, a location previously used in series one.

Asked if it’s weird to think how her life has changed since then, animated Comer laughs, and says: “I guess so!”

“I mean, I hadn’t really thought of that, but yeah, definitely, “ she continues.

“The first time we were in Romania, nobody knew what Killing Eve was, and we all were having so much fun, and just enjoying it and living for the moment and not wanting to have your expectations too high.

“And it couldn’t have gone any better, that first year.”

On the show’s critical success, Comer stresses she feels “incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity in the first place.”

And she certainly won’t be forgetting her Scouse roots any time soon, even if fans might be surprised when they hear her broad accent (her Russian accent for Villanelle - and the others she playfully flits between as part of the role - is seriously impressive).

She has her friends and family keeping her grounded, plus she leads a “very normal life”, she says - but her job does means some other-worldly experiences.

For example, she covered the April 2020 issue of British Vogue (in the interview, she opened up about struggling to find work in her early career, and her love life, saying she is “very much” in love after being single “for a while”).

She says magazines shoots are something she is having more fun with as her career has gone on.

“I was kind of terrified of all that when I started out. And now I’m like, ‘Ah OK’. The more you surrender to it and have fun and not take yourself too seriously, the more enjoyable it can all be.

“So yeah, you’ve just got to take it in your stride, and not overthink it too much.”

Indeed, something she really admires about her esteemed Killing Eve co-stars, Fiona Shaw and Dame Harriet Walter (who joins the cast for series three), is their attitude.

“There’s something about that generation of women. They just have such an ease about them, and they’re not scared to laugh at themselves at all. They see the absurdity in things, and I really respect that.”

Walter’s character is a massive part of Villanelle’s past, reveals Comer.

“This is a woman who she spent a lot of her younger years with, who trained her, who nurtured her in some capacity,” she elaborates.

“So there’s a lot of likeness between them. It’s fun to see the rapport between the two characters.”

Will we find out more about why Villanelle is the way she is?

“You definitely get a glimpse into a life that Villanelle could have possibly led. The thing with Villanelle though is, no matter what we explore regarding her past, she is the way she is because she is that type of person - I think she was born the person that she is.”

Comer adds thoughtfully: “It was so important for me, and I know it was important for the producers and the writers, that we’re never excusing Villanelle.

“We’re never going, ‘This is why she’s like this’ - it’s never to sugar coat or make things seem excusable, it’s more just a matter of fact of, this was or could have been her reality, and this is now her reality.”

It’s certainly a character Comer is happy to keep playing for the foreseeable.

“I love her, and I have so much fun playing her,” she enthuses.

“Maybe I shouldn’t be such a pessimist, but I think it would be very rare that a part like her comes along again, so I want to revel in that for as long as I can.”

Killing Eve series three begins next Tuesday on RTÉ2

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