Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer put 'Killing Eve' to rest

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer met their eyes at an aquarium. Illuminated by the blue glow of bubbling water and art...

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer met their eyes at an aquarium. Illuminated by the blue glow of bubbling water and artificial light, the two women slowly checked in with bewilderment, hostility and abject desire. Over three seasons of “Kill Eve”, the two actresses and the show’s creative team have worked to master the intricate bond between their two characters, and here it is, distilled into one Inspired by “Romeo + Juliet” moment.

And then a capricious fish spoiled the shot.

“Guy!” Oh exclaimed, still exasperated months later. The fish, which appeared in the first episode of the show’s fourth and final season, were extremely “difficult,” Comer explained with a laugh.

“One of them just swam in and literally blocked both eyes,” she said. “I was like, ‘Guys, I can’t work with this fish.'”

Audiences won’t know if former MI6 agent Eve (played by Oh) and globetrotting assassin Villanelle (Comer) are destined to reunite as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers until the series finale. “Killing Eve” to air this spring. (The first two of eight episodes arrive on BBC America and AMC+ on Sunday and air on AMC on Monday.)

The show was an instant critical hit when it premiered in 2018. Oh, who is also an executive producer, was nominated for three Emmys for his performance. (In 2019, she won a Golden Globe.) Comer has also landed several Emmy nominations, wins the award in 2019. The new season, like so many other projects, has been delayed due to pandemic-era filming complications.

Offscreen, the mutual obsession the actresses embody in “Killing Eve” gives way to mutual affection and respect. On a cool February morning, they sat across from me at a patio table in the Peninsula Hotel, interacting with the ease of old friends and the reverence of colleagues who saw themselves at the top of their game.

Comer, who speaks with a sweet Liverpudlian melody, quickly ditched the patent midi skirt she’d worn for a previous photo shoot, in favor of more comfortable sweatpants. Dagger-shaped earrings still framed her face. Oh, raised in Ottawa, stretched out in a seersucker jacket and baggy pants and sipped from her trusty beverage bottle, marked to track her hydration throughout the day. (On set, Oh had gained a reputation as a one-woman “hydration station,” Comer said, with multiple ships nearby at all times.)

These are edited excerpts from our conversation.

What was your reaction when you learned the end of “Killing Eve”?

JODIE COMER It’s a mix of emotions. I was a little stunned. The beautiful thing about filming the ending was that we were on set together, which was amazing. I don’t know what I think of the ending, to be honest.

SANDRA OH I thought that was pretty victorious. And I think we stayed true to the characters and to each other.

When did you discover the fate of your characters?

OH It was truly a work in progress. There are certain discussions that took place very early on, and then the pandemic happened and certain things changed. The discovery happened while we were building it. It’s as precise and broad as I can tell.

I absolutely feel like this season, the season finale, we’re spending the most time together. Because it’s just okay and ready for the characters to ——

ARRIVING Being in this space with each other.

Did you feel like it was the right time to end?

OH It is because that is what is happening. A lot of people describe it as “cat and mouse,” and I get that from season one. But I have to tell you, if you keep describing it like that, you haven’t watched the show. It’s too easy. For me, the show really explores the female psyche and how these two female characters need each other. Digging into some type of thriller setting, it felt like a good time to end.

ARRIVING It’s the trickiest thing to do, you know? Trying to move the characters forward in a way that feels truthful, but also keeping all those pieces that people love so much. Their relationship means something so personal to every person who looks at it.

And the show doesn’t put any labels on Eve and Villanelle’s relationship.

ARRIVING I find it quite difficult when people ask themselves: “What is this relationship? It’s so hard to put a name to it.

OH More and more, I find that this is a very restrictive type of question, because it has to be as broad as possible. I’m not going to tell you anything. Because it doesn’t matter.

ARRIVING Sandra and I don’t talk much [to each other] about what we do before we get to define. And then when it feels good, it feels good. So we are constantly making these discoveries ourselves.

OH It’s one of the best things about what we do in film. You can set up certain circumstances and then something improvised will happen, and that’s actually what to follow.

How To Have A Different Woman Serving As Showrunner Each Season [Phoebe Waller-Bridge, followed by Emerald Fennell, Suzanne Heathcote and Laura Neal] influenced the series as a whole?

ARRIVING Undoubtedly, each brings their own feelings and intuitions about what they think the characters would do. What I enjoyed about it was the opportunity to sit down at a table with everyone and really discuss and sort out what feels true. To be included in these conversations has been amazing. Before “Killing Eve,” it’s like you show up on set, learn your lines, do your job, and go home.

OH This has been the biggest avenue for growth. Because it is very difficult. If you’re a sausage maker, you know this is a tough way to make sausage. But what it triggers is a natural place of friction, and I think that can be an extremely creative place.

Were there certain things on your bucket list that you wanted to accomplish in this final season?

OH I have to wear a wig!

ARRIVING Oh yes! I remember when I saw this photo, I was like, “Damn it, Sandra.”

OH I have to wear two wigs! I have to wear a dress! I was so excited for my wardrobe to expand.

ARRIVING There was a fire that I felt had gone out and that I wanted to come back because I knew we were ending. I wanted a snippet of the old Villanelle we once knew. She went on this journey with her moral compass and her humanity, but I was like, I want her back, meaner than ever.

OH Because the nature of a scorpion cannot change.


Is it something you vocalized at the start?

ARRIVING Yeah. These conversations were always open, like, “Is there something that maybe didn’t resonate with you or something that you want to expand on?” There was never anything I couldn’t talk about.

What this show has always encouraged, especially to find Villanelle, is “Try something!” If it’s silly, if it’s overdone, if it doesn’t work, that’s fine. There is such a freedom that I definitely took.

So many of your line-reads are completely unexpected, and I’ll be thinking, “Did she just do that in the moment?”

OH Yeah!

ARRIVING I often feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants.

OH [Laughs.]

ARRIVING: Is that the saying? Seat of my underpants?

OH No no no no. “Seat of your pants” is correct.

When “Killing Eve” premiered in April 2018, the world was in a different place. We were halfway through the Trump presidency but pre-pandemic. How do you think the show adapted to the changing landscape and what was it able to offer viewers?

OH It’s a tricky question because I don’t want to say what it is. When we came out, it was post-#MeToo, post-Time’s Up debut. It was an extremely magical and fortuitous time. The narration was centered on women; most creative leaders were women. We got to give the world a gift, didn’t we? It was also just stylistically fresh. Conceptually, the genre was fresh. Other changes regarding the pandemic and political changes, it depends on the public.

ARRIVING I feel like it’s pure escapism sometimes.

Like viewers seeing Europe while stuck at home during the pandemic.

ARRIVING Well, we’ve had to cheat a lot this season because of Covid.

OH It’s a terrible revelation, but it’s so true.

ARRIVING The art department and the scenography had to come together to recreate these places that we were visiting. Everyone really had to step in in a different way.

Were you able to film anything outside of Great Britain?


OH Which is sad. But it is what it is. We’re shooting during the pandemic, blah, blah, blah.

What was your last day of filming?

OH All we can say is that we were together.

And emotionally?

OH We were also probably together. [Laughs.]

ARRIVING Very together.

OH For me, it was very, very high. It was very hard.

Is that aquarium scene in the Season 4 premiere an intentional homage to Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet”?

OH Yes of course. We even thought about doing the thing by hand, and we didn’t shy away from certain cinematographic references. Like when Eve follows Hélène [Camille Cottin], and she’s wearing this blonde wig, I remember talking to Stella Corradi, our director, about Faye Wong in “Chungking Express.” I was like, “I want to be like him.” I love the richness of bringing the story of the images and how they can fit into our story.

Looking back, what does the recognition you received for “Eve” mean to you?

ARRIVING I remember going to the Golden Globes that first year, and Sandra won and we were all like, “This is amazing!” It felt like such a celebration. Sure, there’s always a moment of gratification, but your sense of accomplishment comes from getting the job done.

OH These trophies are beautiful and beautiful. But as you progress in your career, the importance of this changes. We did something together. It is concrete. It cannot be taken away from us. And above all, the growth, the confidence, the maturity, the expansion, everything that brought us here, cannot be taken away. These are the things that take on a lot more meaning and space.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer put 'Killing Eve' to rest
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer put 'Killing Eve' to rest
Newsrust - US Top News
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