Jodie Comer reveals how her runaway success in Killing Eve hasn't changed her one bit…
Jodie Comer is riding on the crest of a wave. Having already enjoyed notable roles as tormented Ivy Moxam in the chilling mini-series Thirteen and as 'other woman' Kate Parks in the gripping BBC drama Doctor Foster, it's her turn as cold-blooded killer Villanelle in cat-and-mouse thriller Killing Eve that has shot the Liverpool-born actress to superstardom, winning BAFTA and Emmy awards for best actress in the process.
When the fifth episode of Killing Eve drops on iPlayer next week, Jodie’s Villanelle takes centre stage as the assassin – real name Oksana Astankova – travels to Russia to reunite with the family she’d always believed were dead!
Villanelle feels a sense of belonging as she reconnects with mum Tatiana (Evgenia Dodina) and the rest of the Elton John-obsessed clan. But will she outstay her welcome?
With filming on her latest project, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, suspended due to the Coronavirus crisis, we called Jodie, 27, at home in Liverpool to find out how Killing Eve has changed her life…
Hi Jodie! First of all, how are you coping in lockdown?
"Well, I was in the middle of shooting a film, The Last Duel, which has now been put on hiatus, like the rest of the world. As much as I'd definitely want to be carrying on with that, I've actually been able to come home and unpack seven suitcases. I haven't been home at all, so to have a bit of stillness, I'm a bit embarrassed to say, I'm really enjoying it. But then it's only week one for me, and I've got friends who are on week three, who are pulling their hair out. So, if you ask me again in a couple of weeks, I'm sure the answer may be very different!"
Can you describe where Villanelle's head is at in this third series of Killing Eve?
"We know Villanelle’s a control freak and that’s definitely a huge theme of this series; her wanting to be in control of her own destiny and not be a minion for the many people that come into her life. We also see Villanelle on a more emotional and personal level than we've seen before…"
Indeed, the fifth episode is almost a standalone story for Villanelle. Do we find out more about why she is the way she is?
"This episode has a very different flavour to it; it’s a big one for Villanelle and quite magical. You definitely get a glimpse into a life she could possibly have led. However, no matter what we explore regarding Villanelle’s past, she is the way she is because she’s that type of person. I think she was born that way but there are definitely things that have shaped her. It’s so important for me and I know for the producers and the writers of Killing Eve that we’re never excusing Villanelle or sugar-coating things. It's more just a matter of fact that this was or could have been her reality, and this is now her reality."
Villanelle is quite a character…
"I know that what people really enjoy about Villanelle are those moments where they can relate to her and find ways of sympathising with her. I guess there’s something about Villanelle that people like and can connect with. It’s always been important for me to find new layers and new depths to Villanelle; I don't want her to become predictable and a cliché. We have to find new ways of moving both her and the story forward, and I definitely think we've done that this series."
How would you say this role has changed your life? Could you have imagined winning awards?
"Nooo! I would always watch the BAFTAs on my own up in my room and think: 'Oh god, can you imagine?' But it's not at the forefront of your mind when you’re doing the job. So to then have these incredible experiences on top of doing the job you love, gives you such happiness. It's where every actor aspires to be at some stage in their life – I feel incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity in the first place."
Now you’re a huge star, what keeps you grounded?
"My family and my friends. I lead a very normal life; it’s just that my job has a different, public side to it. I was kind of terrified of all the premieres and magazine shoots when I started out, which I’m actually having so much fun with now. I think the more you surrender to it and not take yourself too seriously, the more enjoyable it can be. I think you've just got to take it all in your stride, and not overthink it too much."
The show’s called Killing Eve, so at some point Villanelle has actually got to ‘kill’ Eve, hasn't she? Or can you see this show running forever?
"I don't know whether 'Killing Eve' actually means Villanelle killing Eve. I guess it's up for interpretation. I'm a firm believer in leaving a good thing while it's good so, as long as we can maintain the quality and stay true to the characters, I'm more than happy to play Villanelle. I love her and I have so much fun playing her. 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."
Episode 5 of Killing Eve lands on iPlayer on Monday May 11 at 6am.
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