Killing Eve took a deep dive — well, as deep as it could go while maintaining some mystery — into assassin Villanelle’s past in Season 3, and Jodie Comer’s work was recognized with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. (She won that category in 2019.)
That’s just one of eight nods — including for Outstanding Drama Series — the spy thriller received this year; Sandra Oh (as ex-agent Eve Polastri) is up against Comer, and Fiona Shaw (as MI6’s Carolyn Martens) is vying for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
“I think the characters are very authentic. I have incredible fun acting in the show and playing this character and I hope that that’s what resonates and that people are enjoying it ultimately,” Comer tells TV Insider. “People are so invested in [all the characters], and I think that’s a huge testament to the production and the whole team, the effort that goes into making it. … I want people to enjoy it. I want people to get lost in it, the absurdity and the truth.”
Here, Comer looks back on the turning point of Season 3 for her character and Villanelle and Eve’s relationship and shares what she knows about what’s ahead.
Did this year’s nomination feel any different from last year, especially after winning?
Jodie Comer: Honestly, I was just really shocked. It’s such an honor to be nominated again, especially after winning last year. That people think I deserve to be up there again was really, really lovely, to be there with Sandra and the rest of the nominees in such an incredible category.
Killing Eve keeps peeling back the layers of Villanelle and what she wants. How did you get into her mindset for Season 3?
I always knew it was going to come up. They’d hinted about Villanelle’s past and her family coming up, but to be honest, we didn’t really know in what capacity that would be until when we were filming Episode 3 because the script was changing so much up until we actually shot it. What I was really excited about was this opportunity to explore something new. That’s been the biggest challenge coming back for each season, staying true to what people love but also acknowledging and moving and growing with these characters and trying to do it in an authentic, realistic way because people want to see more into Villanelle, but then we never want to get too close that she loses her mystery and her sense of danger.
How I got into her psyche, first off, I felt like I had the groundwork from the past two seasons. And then we had a wonderful director, Shannon Murphy, who directed 5 and 6, and she was just so involved in the material and the characters and brought such a great energy and lots of ideas, so to be honest, I kind of clung on to her for dear life and trusted her judgments and her direction.
Speaking of her family, she killed her mother. How much did she need that experience at that point, considering the rest of the season?
Yeah, I think we did need it, and I think the biggest hurdle was always battling with how we show it, her interactions with her family, how much we show and how much we hint at. But what I thought was a real pivotal moment for Villanelle in this moment of meeting her family was her reaction to her killing her mom and how that changes her for the rest of the series.
There’s this question of who Villanelle is if she’s not killing. Who does she want to be, in your mind?
I think she has this desperate want to be accepted and I think actually that’s what we discovered and blossomed this series with Eve and Villanelle. I think she realizes that after everything that happens in Series 3, Eve is the only person who accepts her despite all of her awfulness and all of her flaws. That lovely moment in the ballroom where she says, “I’ve killed a lot of people,” and Eve says, “I know,” and there’s a kind of breath and a sigh from Villanelle of it was always her who had accepted her. She goes back home to her mother and her mother completely disregards her and disowns her.
How realistic do you think it is for her to stop killing? She says she wants to, but that’s what she’s known all this time.
It’s so ingrained in who she is, and it’s an interesting exploration. It’s something that at this moment she’s fighting with, and I think she thinks she can get away from it. She desperately wants to believe she can, and that’s what she wants to prove, that she is more than this machine that she is a part of. I don’t think it is very realistic at all, but it’s something she’s trying to prove and who she’s trying to prove that to is questionable.
Villanelle and Eve’s relationship is so complicated, and that’s probably the way it’ll always be no matter what. And this season we got that dance and the kiss…
This is the most intimate we’ve seen them actually, and I think what me and Sandra spoke about and especially with the team is that it felt wrong to be constantly meeting and then being volatile and against each other. It didn’t feel right anymore. We both felt that there had to be a shift.
Even the last moment in Episode 8 on the bridge of them walking away, we obviously know these women are going to come back into each other’s orbits some place, somehow, but they walk away in that moment because they’ve gotten from each other what the other one needed. We’ve never ended a series like that before ever, so it was interesting to see how audiences responded to that.
Speaking of that bridge moment and knowing they’ll eventually come back to one another, who do you think will have the hardest time staying away?
I think probably Villanelle. [Laughs] I think it’s probably going to be her, isn’t it? But it’s fascinating. We’ve had various conversations with Laura Neal, who’s coming on as the head writer for Season 4 and wrote the last two episodes of Season 3 and it’s always so interesting hearing their ideas and what they have planned — just even ideas that are being thrown about, nothing’s set in stone as of yet — but that’s what I always love, that collaboration of when we actually start getting to work and having these conversations and seeing what it is the writers have summoned up.
I almost picture Villanelle sending another gift to Eve, but with something new to it.
That was another thing. I have things with each series that I’m like, “Oh, I hope we can move away and find a new way of doing it,” so I actually hope she doesn’t send a gift. I hope she finds a new way of provoking her or at least connecting with her because I do think we’ve seen such a huge shift in her this season that I think it will be really fun to see Villanelle obviously still being herself but maybe provoking her in a different way.
Or maybe Eve can send Villanelle a gift? How would Villanelle react to that?
Yeah, how about that? How about Villanelle gets a gift for once? She can’t really complain. She has all the apartments and the fancy clothes, so she probably wants for nothing, but it’s the sentiment. That’s what Villanelle wants, the sentiment.
While the “monster” in Villanelle encourages the one in Eve, what do you think it is in Eve that Villanelle may need some time away from?
Villanelle is all about control, and there is something within Eve that Villanelle can’t control her emotions and that confuses her and she doesn’t like not being in control, and that’s, again, a huge exploration for Villanelle throughout the season, with Eve and with her family, so I think it’s that. I think there is an unknown with Eve that Villanelle is enticed by, but also is kind of scared of in a way or is unsure of.
It’s been so entertaining to watch Villanelle’s relationships with her two handlers, Konstantin and Dasha. What did Villanelle need to learn from each of them leading up to where we find her at the end of Season 3?
She learned from Dasha in her early years and that’s why she is as skilled as she is. It’s funny because I think what she should have learned from Dasha is that Dasha f**ked her over very badly very early on, and then she was with Konstantin, and Konstantin did the exact same thing. She’s just a pawn in these people’s games, they use her as they need to, so I think actually that was probably a lesson that she should have learned that she didn’t. I really miss the old Konstantin and Villanelle days when life was easy and they were best friends but kind of hated each other.
I love that dynamic so much. Villanelle faced losing him a couple times, but he’s still around. But that relationship has to change because hers with the Twelve is completely different.
Yeah, it’s going to be really interesting. Konstantin’s like a cockroach. He just keeps coming back. I think deep down, there is a great love between them, too, but it’s going to be interesting because so much has been done to see how and if they can come back from that and in what way. I’m actually really intrigued by that.
And moving on to Villanelle and Carolyn’s dynamic, they may very well both be in trouble with the Twelve after their murders in the finale.
I’ve always felt this kind of fire between Villanelle and Carolyn, and I think Villanelle really admires Carolyn and respects her. In Season 2, when she’s in the room with Eve, and she’s like, “Oh, you’re the boss around here. It actually isn’t Eve, it’s you,” and I think Villanelle’s really attracted to that.
Honestly, I’m just hoping and praying that they can somehow get me more scenes with Fiona. That is my biggest dream. But I actually think there is a lot about the women that are very alike. Of course Carolyn keeps her cards very, very close to her chest, and Villanelle not so much, but I would love those two to get together a little bit more.
Is there anything you can tease about Season 4? Storylines? When production may begin?
I know nothing. It’s all very much up in the air at the minute. We were supposed to be filming right about now, but I just know the production didn’t want to compromise the quality of the show, which I’m absolutely all for. It gives us a little bit more time to make sure we come back with the juiciest possible season we can create. Fingers crossed soon, but I have no news as of yet, I’m afraid.