As Killing Eve’s Villanelle, she pulled off perhaps the most fascinating performance: a vicious sociopath so cheeky we couldn’t help but root for her.
A strange man sitting at the table next to — and apparently within smelling range — of Jodie Comer has just leaned a little farther in, his sense of smell activated by an odor wafting his way. “Excuse me,” he murmurs into her ear, unsure if he should. “What perfume are you wearing? Is it … it smells so familiar.”
Comer is delighted. “Oh, it’s a bit strong, innit? It’s Santal 33! I doused myself in it when I got ready,” she exclaims in a dense Liverpudlian accent. As they exchange some niceties about sandalwood and cedar and Le Labo, a feeling hovers just outside of my rational thought. Villanelle, the assassin Comer plays on Killing Eve, once used perfume as a fatal nerve agent. Watching this scene now unfold in real life, it’s not that I think, Will she assassinate him? But there is something about the exchange that feels lifted directly from the show’s script. [ . . . ]
Killing Eve Starring: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Owen McDonnell Network: BBC America Synopsis: Intel from Berlin points to the existence of a mole, prompting Eve to undertake her first surveillance operation; Villanelle is sent to England to eliminate a member of British Intelligence.
There is something extraordinarily precise about Jodie Comer’s performance in Killing Eve, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brutal and unexpected entry into the spree-kill genre that took our top spot as the best TV show of 2018. Comer’s petrifying psychopath, Villanelle, is chillingly playful – like a mastiff that will take your throat out just as soon as it has finished with its ball – with the face of a schoolgirl. In real life, Comer is a wholesome 25-year-old scouser who, when she is not working, still lives at home. Yet she does something to the role to give it an oddly comic texture. Some combination of Comer’s humour – even the muscles in her face have comic timing – and her turn-on-a-sixpence quickness, mental and physical, makes her performance absolutely mesmeric. You are desperate to know what will happen next, even when you know full well that it will just be someone else ending up dead.
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“What I loved about the kills, though,” Comer says, “was that it was always something you’d never, ever think. It was never ‘someone gets stabbed’. Continue reading →