When the first season of Killing Eve launched last year, it became a word-of-mouth hit on both sides of the pond.
Fast forward eight months and the show is a bona fide success, with countless awards under its belt including its recent triumph at the TV Baftas.
Killing Eve season 2 is coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer in June, with Jodie Comer (Villanelle) and Sandra Oh (Eve Polastri) both returning, alongside a new head writer in the form of Emerald Fennell (taking over from Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
Fresh from her Best Actress win at the TV Baftas, Liverpool-born Comer, 26, recently took part in a Q&A with host Pandora Sykes and press at London’s Curzon Soho cinema ahead of the launch of series 2.
Comer - who you might also recognise from Doctor Foster and My Mad Fat Diary - opened up to BT TV and other journalists about returning as Villanelle for the show’s highly-anticipated second series.
Catch up on series 1 of Killing Eve now - it’s available to stream on BBC iPlayer, under the Players & Apps tab on BT TV.
Killing Eve series 2 will be available to stream as a complete box set on BBC iPlayer from Saturday, June 8.
***SPOILERS for Killing Eve series 1 ahead***
1. Villanelle loses none of her dark sense and wit in series 2. What is it that drew you to her as a character?
She is so free, and she has no sense of consequence, or fear. I think in this day and age a lot of us have a lot of fear.
I remember Sally [Woodward Gentle, executive producer] and Phoebe [Waller-Bridge, executive producer] said “What would it be like to wake up and have no fear?”.
It is literally playing on set. You get to do all this crazy stuff and express all these emotions, or lack of emotions. It’s just so much fun to play.
2. There’s something really refreshing about the ambiguities in the female characters in Killing Eve, like Eve who is capable of stabbing someone, or Villanelle who’s capable of being empathetic. Was it refreshing to play a nuanced woman on screen?
Yeah. I feel extremely lucky that my past four or five roles have all been written by women, so I feel like a lot of the roles that I’ve played have been complex and challenging. Villanelle is the cherry on the cake.
That has actually been my experience so far, so there has kind of been a continuation of that. As an actress and a human being, you want to be challenged and you want to push yourself into new depths that you may have not been before.
These scripts and this show definitely gives me that.
3. Villanelle became a style icon in series 1, and in series 2 she’s abruptly brought down to earth, wearing these superhero pyjamas in Basildon. How do you think she feels about this complete change in status?
She claws her way back to her [designers like] Chloe alright, it just takes her a while. That’s another thing that’s so great, she’s completely stripped of her luxuries.
I remember them bringing me them pyjamas, above, for filming and I was like “no way”. But it was great to play that as well, and how you see past those pyjamas, because this woman is in such a dangerous position and somehow the pyjamas just become Villanelle.
She ends up working them. I actually think the pyjamas are the Molly Goddard moment of this series. But she absolutely gets her designer clothes back, which was fun to play with.
I always loved doing the costume fittings, especially when she’s playing certain characters. It’s a really fun part of playing her.
4. Could you tell the difference between the writing of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Emerald Fennell?
The writing is absolutely different. Phoebe and Emerald are so similar, but they’re genius writers within their own right.
I really feel like Emerald really captured the heart of the show, and the characters. I feel like we got a really strong start.
What was lovely about Emerald, and Phoebe, is that we had this opportunity between each block to get together and discuss the characters and the scenes, if there’s anything that doesn’t quite seem right, or any lines that don’t feel right.
5. You don't get much screen time with Sandra Oh this series. What’s your working relationship like?
Well we were like passing ships in season 1 really, which actually added to the tension when we did get to do that scene [when our characters met for the first time]. It felt really charged.
But in season 2 they do come into contact a little bit more… I wonder what circumstances that is!
Sandra’s incredible, from the moment I met her for our chemistry read, she’s extremely generous on and off-screen, and whenever we meet we find another piece of the puzzle.
We still don’t have a lot of the answers, which I don’t mind, I think it’s quite exciting.
6. Your accents are so convincing! Where do they come from?
Do you know where I think it comes from is [when I was] growing up, me and my Dad always used to impersonate silly accents that were on the telly, just joking around the house.
I think from doing that, I have got an ear for it. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are harder than others, I have to work at it.
But for me it helps me because when I’m doing my own [Liverpool] accent, I find it harder to separate it from my own character for some reason, I don’t know.
But also, you don’t see many Scousers on the telly, so maybe we need to change that up a little bit! Me and Stephen [Graham]. It’s something I really enjoy doing.
When I was auditioning, I was told about the accents, and I was told that if you were asked whether you can ride a horse, you say yes, even if you can’t, so that’s what I did with the languages!
That was a terrifying but equally exciting part of playing her.
7. How do you prepare for murdering somebody on screen?
What I really enjoy about the murders on the show is that they’re not what you’d expect.
Honestly, they’re the most fun days on set, purely because they’re mostly outrageous.
There is one particular moment coming up towards the end of the series that is epic. It was shot over two days and it’s really physical.
It was really quite draining, but other than that it’s just so much fun. I don’t go home and have a little word with myself. It’s all OK.
Watch the trailer for Killing Eve series 2
Series 1 of Killing Eve, consisting of eight episodes, is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.
Killing Eve series 2 will be available to stream as a complete box set on BBC iPlayer from Saturday, June 8.
BT TV customers can find the BBC iPlayer app under the Players & Apps tab on their TV box.
Meet the new lead writer for Killing Eve season 2 - Emerald Fennell
Were you a fan of season one? And did that give you a fresh perspective on how to approach season two?
I was a huge a fan of season one and I knew a bit about the show and its writing process from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is a good friend. However, nothing could have prepared me for how brilliant it was when it came out and, like everyone else, I was obsessed. We actually started writing before season one had come out, so had no idea it was going to be as popular with the world as it was with us.
It is difficult to work on something when you are a fan. It is tempting to do what you have secretly dreamed of doing while watching it. I loved the characters so much and Phoebe was brilliant at building such a beautiful and rich world. Going in to it as someone who really loved the characters was heavenly to do.
Killing Eve is a dance between the hunter and the hunted in season one, how does this dynamic evolve in season two?
Season one was a cat-and-mouse [game] between Eve and Villanelle, and the dynamic is still there. Eve and Villanelle are these two women who cannot help but be in each other’s vortex. The question for season two, is how the power dynamic has changed in their relationship and what it means for these women’s lives.
How does the relationship between Eve and Villanelle evolve in season two?
It is constantly evolving, like all complicated relationships do. All of the hallmarks from last season are still there: the obsession, the fascination and inability to leave it alone, even though it is compromising. What we see this year is that the women are bonded in a sadomasochistic way by an act of extraordinary violence. It has changed their lives massively in different ways and it is now more dangerous than it was.
What are the key story themes that continue and develop in season two?
The theme which was started so beautifully by Phoebe is that of the nature of good and evil: what makes you a good or bad person? What is fascinating about this show is that we have two objectively different characters. It seems clear-cut that Villanelle is an assassin and Eve is this kind, intuitive and empathetic person. But the question of who is good and who is evil isn’t always clear. No matter what Villanelle did people still loved her, and the darker Eve got, people still felt the same towards her.
It is tempting to do the very spy genre thing and start the season six months later where everyone is healed. However, we wanted to pick up directly after the fallout of such a momentous thing. For me, the question is how do you get home - both physically and metaphorically - when you have done something so shocking. I was also interested in looking at their relationship as some sort of addiction and how it is the worst hangover ever. It is the darkest night of the soul where you have done something bad and you have to face yourself. How do you look yourself in the mirror when you do things that you have been taught your whole life not to do? That’s also at the core of this whole series.
Killing Eve is an unusual show about two powerful and deeply imperfect women. Is this helping breathe new life into the spy genre?
Killing Eve is a spy show, but it establishes what it is to be a spy by showing all the mundane, real stuff. So much of the spy stuff that is out there is procedural, whereas in this show we try to shy away from that as it’s less interesting. What is interesting to us is how it compromises your relationships, how you learn to lie to those who are close to you, where you get a coffee if you are working in the MI6 building, and the day-to-day concerns. You rarely see that in the spy genre. It’s showing the ordinary even though you are dealing with extraordinary things.
Do the light-hearted, comedic aspects of the show work to help the dark moments even more disturbing? How do they play off of each other?
The tone of Killing Eve is unique. It is reflected in Phoebe’s writing where there is a dark, savage, rich humour, and it’s a delicate line to tread. You have to be conscious that jokes aren’t too gaggy. The root of it is in the world she has established - things are funny because they are true. They are also surprising because they are surprising, and if people are shocked it is not for plot sake. For example, Eve stabbing Villanelle is a moment of pure instinct. In most shows you would get a big build up for a plot twist like that. But with this show it just feels like a part of someone’s journey. We are so used to seeing acts of violence on screen that we have forgotten to ask what it would feel like to actually look someone in the face and stab them.
The crucial thing is to be honest and then everything else falls into place. It also helps if you have a horribly dark sense of humour and a fetish for violence!
Killing Eve takes place in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and London. Do these different cities add a unique flavour to the backdrop of the show?
The locations are so important because where they choose to film in a city is very clever and not often obvious. You won’t have the Arc de Triomphe in Paris but you will have an underpass with some old French graffiti. If you are chasing after someone or running for your life, you are not going to be standing beautifully under the Arc de Triomphe! This show is so unusual because we have the means to do things like shut down whole streets in Paris, or take over whole sections of Amsterdam.
Images: BBC / BBC America / Sid Gentle Films / Rex Features