Jodie Comer on Her Favorite Killing Eve Episode and Meeting Villanelle’s Match
It takes one word to transform Jodie Comer’s face: “Julian.” Her eyes widen, her mouth stretching into a toothy grin. “I will literally just talk about Julian for the rest of this interview,” she gushes, settling back into her chair. “It’s my favorite episode of the whole season. It was the most fun I’ve ever had.”
The second episode of Killing Eve‘s sophomore run sees Comer’s wily assassin Villanelle meet her match in Julian (The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt), a meek loner who’s not nearly as innocent as he first appears across the grocery store checkout line. Villanelle, fresh off a Paris child murder, finds herself stranded in a suburban English town with a festering stab wound and pegs Julian as an easy target and temporary saving grace. She cajoles him into sheltering her so she can recuperate in peace, but Julian’s harboring twisted tendencies of his own. He slowly drives an ailing Villanelle to her breaking point, withholding much-needed antibiotics and terrorizing her with a menacing porcelain doll collection and his invalid mother. “That particular house, that particular man. If you go around the streets in the U.K., you see those houses,” Comer says, laughing. “There’s definitely a handful of guys like him living in them.”
A feverish, desperate Villanelle first calls for a handler, using the instantly iconic line, “It’s Cher Horowitz. I failed my driving test,” as code to convey her emergency. “Do you know what is really embarrassing? I hadn’t watched Clueless, so I didn’t get it,” Comer confesses. “It was really hard to say in the accent, and I was like, “Can we just change this name?” And they were like, ‘No, no, no, this is a thing.’ Then I went and watched Clueless, and I was gutted that I didn’t watch it when I was younger because I felt so detached from it. I was like, ‘I’ve missed the Clueless boat!'”
Villanelle’s bat signal fails to move the handler on the other line, so she calls MI6 looking for Eve. “Genuinely, she fears for her own life,” Comer says of portraying Villanelle at her most vulnerable. “As an audience, you’re like, oh, this is really not good.”
Villanelle, of course, ultimately sends Julian to his death with a brutal stab to the neck, and it turns out that her Clueless cry really did work; a new handler, Raymond (Adrian Scarborough), pulls up outside of Julian’s home just as a feverish Villanelle emerges into the sunlight. But he’s no Konstantin, and swiftly asserts his dominance with a chokehold. “Villanelle thinks that she has everything in order, but she is just a puppet on a string. There is something higher and more above her. By the end of that second episode you’re like, she’s finished.” As Raymond and Villanelle drive away, Eve (Sandra Oh) arrives at the scene to answer Villanelle’s call.
Comer sat down with BAZAAR.com to discuss returning to the now-iconic character; the fascinating, frustrating Eve-Villanelle relationship; and why she’s already thinking about Season 3.
Harper’s BAZAAR: We saw at the end of this episode that Eve and Villanelle are essentially dancing around each other. They were so close to a reunion!
Jodie Comer: These women, within this season, have to come into contact with each other a little bit more, but it’s under very different circumstances. There are more of those moments. The story has moved forward, and these women are in each other’s orbits a little bit more. And then there’s some possible relationship—it’s what everyone wants! But in reality, would this ever work? What’s fun is the exploration of that and the journey that the audience goes on to find it.
HB: Coming into the new season, did you get any input into Villanelle?
JC: There were a lot of conversations, but what I love about writers is they have this ability and talent I do not have. I love leaving things to their imagination. As we were going along before each block [of shooting episodes], we would get together and discuss the scripts and then maybe feed in ideas. Maybe there was a line that I didn’t feel sat with her or didn’t sound quite right in regards to storyline. Whereas I think going into series three, now I have ideas I think it would be fun to explore.
HB: Does Villanelle still shock you? Like with her snapping the boy’s neck at the end of the Season 2 premiere?
JC: Yeah. Oh my God. Part of me was like, one, this is a child. Two, are we trying to push boundaries that we need to push? Is it too much? But then when I sat re-reading the scenes and spoke to Emerald [Fennell, the Season 2 showrunner], what really stuck out to me about that scene was there was a moment where he asks her, “If you looked like this, would you wanna live?” What you see is what you get with Villanelle. If you ask her a question, she’s gonna think about it and give an honest answer. There’s a really honest ease when she considers what he said, and she says, “No.” So for me, in her head, whether it’s right or wrong, that was an act of mercy. And what is fascinating is the people who I’ve spoken to since watching it are like, “I know why she did it.”
HB: It doesn’t feel gratuitous.
JC: I was worried about that. Someone said to me in an interview, “Did you do that for a shock factor?” We’re not here to shock people. I think it’s always got to relate to this woman and trying to find out more about who she is. [We] find these moments of humanity within her where we think we know her, and then she does something and it questions everything again. The audience feels like they know her and feel like they should’ve seen that beat coming because of her warped sense of reality.
HB: Now that you share her with this huge audience, do you still feel like Villanelle is yours? Do you know her better, going into Season 2?
JC: There’s still so much that I feel I don’t know about her. But I do feel like she’s mine. I love that people love her so much. It’s really wonderful that they’ve made this connection with her, because black and white, she should be the villain, but it just isn’t that way. With both lead women, nothing is ever black and white. There are times when you question Eve and you disagree with what Eve does, and vice versa, because that’s what we all are. No one is good or bad, we all have our moments. But obviously Villanelle’s is just a little bit worse.
HB: After the era of Don Draper and Tony Soprano, we’re long overdue for a female anti-hero.
JC: I was with Phoebe a couple of days ago, actually, and that’s exactly what she said to me. She was like, “This is a new moment. It’s our own moment. It’s not like anyone else.” People make reference to Villanelle as Bond, and I can see the connection, but she is her own league. Even when I was auditioning and doing a bit of homework, people were like, “What assassins or films did you watch for reference?” And I was like, “None,” because I felt like there was nothing I could or wanted to replicate. I felt that she was doing her own thing.
HB: I know Sandra produces on the show. Is that something you’d ever want to do?
JC: To be honest, I still feel very new to it all, and I’m not exactly sure what a producer credit enables. I do think you have more voice in the pre-production and scripts and starting it off. And I think one day I absolutely would, but I don’t know if I feel that need right now. But what I really appreciate about the production on Killing Eve is that they really value my opinion in regards to costumes, scripts, characters. I’m always involved in a conversation, which I really am grateful for, and realize it’s very unique. We are all very close now. It goes further than being work. It’s personal.
HB: Were you surprised to learn you’d become a gay icon?
JC: I spoke to [Codename Villanelle author] Luke Jennings recently, and he said he’s had so many women write to him and say, “I just can relate and feel seen by her.” Her sexuality was something I never questioned. It was something I never had the conversation about with anyone, which is what I thought was so beautiful. This woman in the script was being herself. It wasn’t a conversation. It wasn’t a topic we needed to discuss or analyze. It was who she was.
I remember having a conversation with Phoebe about psychopaths and what traits and characteristics they have. And the feeling that they get from killing, the closest thing to that would be sex, and the control that they have over a person when having sex. And I think that’s what you see with Sebastian in Season 1, where she’s not getting this kick, this feeling that she needs. It’s all to do with feeding her ego and her control. So that’s another side of her sexuality. It’s a need for her, and the freedom that she has in doing that. Then you see Villanelle having sex with this guy really fast. [Laughs] So aggressive. I remember Harry, the director, was like “faster, faster!” We were like, “Oh, God.” And you can see that she’s trying so hard to experience something that she can’t reach, she can’t get to.
Also, I think as women, there is that blurred line sometimes where you meet someone and you become a little bit infatuated with someone, where there is an obsession and you don’t know quite what it is. And I think that’s what the show is exploring—this crazy feeling that you can’t quite put a finger on. What I’ve experienced is with each person who’s watched the show, they all have their own interpretation. When people are like, “What is this relationship?” I’m like, “That is such a huge question that I do not have the answer to. But we’re finding out.” And I also don’t want to put words in people’s mouths because I feel like people should have their own experience with the show.
HB: Two years ago this week, I asked you about the next role you wanted to take. Here’s what you said to me: “What is so important for me after I finish this job is to do a complete 360 and tackle something different. I’d love to do something where I have to completely transform. Or something that is very physical and would test me with discipline in that way. Something that I’d maybe have to train for.”
JC: I remember this. I do believe in what you put out in the universe. I do think there’s power in that. I remember the year that I got Killing Eve. For me it was particularly quiet. It was May, June and I hadn’t done anything yet. I feel like there’s three stages: Complete panic and disarray, “I’m never gonna work again. I’m the worst actress in the world. Everyone hates me.” Blah blah blah. Feeling sorry for yourself. And then you go, “No, I’m gonna get on with my life.” Usually when you book a holiday. So I went with friends to Barcelona. And just as I did that, [the role] came through.
HB: Have you met the new Season 3 showrunner, Suzanne [Heathcote] yet?
JC: I had a good talk with her about where I think I would like Villanelle to go. She’s very open, and I think that’s lovely when you can have a dialogue with people you’re creating something with—your opinion being valued. I guess that’s the joy of coming back, playing a recurring character, is that you also have this understanding of this character that other people don’t. You may be the one who knows her best.
HB: What can you tell me about your movie, Free Guy?
JC: We start in May. [Stranger Things executive producer] Shawn Levy’s directing. He’s wonderful. Ryan Reynolds plays this guy who is a background character within a video game but thinks he’s in the real world and has purpose. And I meet him through the game as an avatar called Molotov Girl, but in the real world I’m a girl who programmed the code for the game, but it got stolen and the game is about to be deleted. And it’s about how they come together within the real world and the game to save his world.
Killing Eve airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on BBC America and AMC.
Source: Read Full Article