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Phoebe Waller-Bridge on ‘Killing Eve’: “Villanelle is a Psychopath, but a Real One”

‘Killing Eve’ is one of the most highly-anticipated shows of the year, and it comes to the BBC tonight in the UK.

The spy thriller follows two very different women go head to head in a game of cat and mouse. Eve is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfil her fantasies of being a spy, whilst Villanelle is a mercurial, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her.

The show has already been a monster hit in the US, and saw lead actress Sandra Oh (Eve) receive an Emmy nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In being nominated, Oh became the first Asian woman to be nominated in the category.

Adapted by Bafta Award-winning writer and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) from the novellas Codename Villanelle, ‘Killing Eve’ also stars Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens and David Haig as Bill.

The show will air on Saturday evenings, whilst the full series will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer after the first episode has aired.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has released an introduction to anyone wanting to discover a bit more about ‘Killing Eve’ before it begins on BBC One tonight. Read her intro below.


“I’d love to explain personally a little about why I love this project, why I was so drawn to the books and, most significantly, these incredible characters.

Luke Jennings, the writer of the novellas on which this series is based, has created two fascinating women in a world of espionage and conspiracy. I want to honour his story, but I also long to ground it in a genuine female narrative. We’ve seen the TV and film ‘idea’ of these women before – the cold-blooded assassin, the brow-beaten cop. So much so that I was desperate to get my hands on them and make them proper, rounded heroines for the modern man and woman.

Both Eve and Villanelle are equally as flawed and disarmingly insane as the rest of us; they have simply had lives sprung on them that we have happened to avoid. Outside of their adventures, I’m interested in the sides of them that make these women human, however spectacular their lives become.

Villanelle is a psychopath, but a real one. The kind that psychoanalysts dedicate their lives to investigating. Lacking in empathy, deluded by their own egos, but often functional and normal to the naked eye. Eve is her opposite – warm, insecure, frustrated – but they are as funny and as ambitious as each other and together they will take us down a rabbit hole of a psychological thriller.

I want to subvert the genre, the expectations and every cliché that is tied up in the spy-action-thriller. And even more so, in the female characters that populate them. This is NOT an ‘oooo badass woman show’ where everyone’s clothes fall off after an impossibly long fight scene. Nor is it a humourless, plot-driven show about a mystery. This is a meditation on murder, on loneliness and the potential for a world without a conscience. It’s funny and frightening.

Killing Eve is a character study on two lives, two women and their circumstances, their homes, their wants, their fears and what keeps them from ending it all. It’s just that one happens to be an assassin and the other a spy. If I’ve done my job right, the audience should feel equally chilled as they are excited by the determination of these women, their journeys and how drawn they are to one another.

I hope this show will bring a new dimension to the spy-like romp with designer scarves we have seen before. At its heart, it’s about the depths of the people as much as it will be about the thrill of the plot.

I hope you enjoy it!

Best,

Phoebe”

Killing Eve starts on BBC1 on Saturday 15th September at 9.15pm. Episodes will air weekly, but will also be available on BBC iPlayer following the first episode.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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