The Killing Eve star tells Rebecca Nicholson about gut instincts, social media and why she’s a big softie at heart
The day after she won her Bafta, Jodie Comer watched Game of Thrones with her brother and had a burger for breakfast. Granted, it was the middle of the afternoon, but they’d had a big night. She had picked up the award, amid stiff competition, for leading actress, for playing the flamboyant and seductive psychopath Villanelle in Killing Eve. “As soon as they said my name, I pulled my really ugly crying face,” she says, pulling her best ugly crying face. “I felt like, oh God, I’m such a cliché! I had to pick my dress up because it was too long and I was going up the steps, crying.” She shakes her head, embarrassed. “Such a cliché. But I’ve always gone, oh my God, imagine. Imagine that happening. And then it does.”
I meet Comer two days later, the day after the day after, when breakfast has reverted to usual hours. We’re in a stuffy meeting room at her agency in London, because she’s been in meetings all day. There’s a Killing Eve launch tonight, then she’ll head back to Boston in the morning, to shoot Free Guy, a new action comedy with Ryan Reynolds. She’s only back in the UK briefly, and she’s had a lot to squash in.
“I am tired, but it’s self-inflicted,” Comer says, warmly. “I can’t complain that I’m being overworked.” She is bare-faced, in a neon lime lycra T-shirt, and wriggling like an eel. Her hair is loose and occasionally ends up in her mouth. When she really wants to make a point, she slumps forward, hands on the table, open and expansive, and looks at you with those huge, sincere eyes, lifting an eyebrow, fashioning her elastic face into a flash of Villanelle.
Tell me about the afterparty. “The first time I went to the Baftas, it was crazy,” she says. At an afterparty in 2017, she was introduced to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who wrote and ran the first season of Killing Eve. This year ended up being a little tamer. “But I mean, I say this. Me, my dad, my brother and my mum were still up at 6am drinking champagne,” she laughs.
Comer is extremely close to her family. She grew up in Childwall, a suburb in the south of Liverpool, and her dad is a sports massage therapist for Everton FC. (Her brother Charlie works for Huddersfield FC as an analyst, “so my mum’s like, we’ve got to support both now, cos it’s Charlie’s work.”) She was bereft when they had to get the train back to Liverpool, though they did take her Bafta home with them for safekeeping. “I’ve got pictures on my phone,” she says, grinning, showing me photos of the award out in the wild, next to a bottle of champagne left over from the celebrations.
They have decided to call the Bafta “Billy”. “I don’t know why,” she says, pulling a goofy face. “My dad had it out on the train, and this woman went: ‘That’s not from Poundland, is it?’ This other woman said: ‘Is that the real thing?’ He said, ‘Yeah, do you want to touch it?’” She flicks through her camera roll, pictures of it in the pubs of Liverpool. “They took it on a pub crawl. They were so proud.” [ . . . ]