Before season one of Killing Eve started filming, creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge and star Jodie Comer met at a restaurant to work out a backstory for Comer’s character, Villanelle, a deadly (but stylish!) assassin. “We created a timeline and just threw ideas out there of what she could have gone through,” Comer tells Glamour. “Why she is the way she is, or what may have happened.” They decided she was in a home at some point, but got kicked out for her behavior. And then, “We were like, ‘Yeah, and she kills someone!'” Comer laughs at the memory. “We were throwing the craziest stuff at each other—I’m sure people were wondering [what was going on at our table].”
Now, those diners would be leaning in, hoping to hear more about what’s next for Villanelle. After the Emmy-nominated series debuted on BBC America last year, it became a hit with critics and fans alike. That’s thanks to a winning combo of witty, genre-pushing writing and next-level performances by Comer and her costar Sandra Oh. Based on Luke Jennings’s Codename Villanelle series, Oh plays Eve, a refreshingly normal M15 officer, who becomes obsessed with finding Comer’s Villanelle, a wildly confident, often petulant, probably psychopathic killer.
Their cat-and-mouse dynamic is what makes the show so unexpected and fun to watch. And as season two approaches, it feels like there’s still so much more to unpack about the women and their many complexities. Comer says that Waller-Bridge always had a clear vision, especially for Villanelle. “She was always going on about her naughtiness, her childishness, which I love—that mischief and fearlessness and lack of caring for what people think,” Comer says. “But then, she’s a woman and extremely talented and good at her job. There’s this side of her that’s like, ‘Do not fuck with her.'”
For Comer, the most important thing was to make Villanelle, a contract killer with a closet full of couture, relatable. “Assassins always seem, to me, to be portrayed as superheroes that you can’t really access,” she explains. “There’s a wall up, where you’re like, ‘I’d like to see what’s going on underneath all of this.’ There’s a lot of redeemable qualities about her, which I think enables the audience to be on her side sometimes. Strangely, sometimes you respect her.”
“I think sometimes what is charming about these characters is their looks,” she continues. “Like, he’s a psychopath or a murderer, but he’s so…the only thing you like about him is that he’s really good-looking. Villanelle is so much more than that. Her charm is not just in the way she looks, but the way she acts and carries herself.”
This is true, though her insanely gorgeous fashion sense helps. Comer agrees. “She completely expresses herself through her clothes. You know she gets paid well for what she does, and that’s how she likes to spend her money,” she says. “She very much dresses based on where she is in the world, which is influenced by how she feels. I don’t think she has a set style. She would probably try to wear everything and anything, but because she wears it with confidence it works. That’s probably the key to her: her confidence.”
Comer says season two will keep unlocking more of Villanelle’s many contradictions, but you won’t be seeing a young actress play “baby Villanelle” in flashbacks: “What we really explore is these flickers of moments, where we feel like we’re getting in there of who she was and is. She is forced into situations where she has to try and be honest, and I think that’s really interesting for the audience to see.”