Has any actress this side of American Horror Story reveled so completely in fabulous absurdity as Jodie Comer does in Killing Eve? As the globe-trotting assassin Villanelle, Comer, a longtime minor player in British TV, broke out in the BBC America cultural phenom, in part by getting us to laugh at her character’s hilarious viciousness. In her very first scene, Villanelle smiles at a little girl at a café, only to vigorously toss the child’s ice cream in her lap on her way out the door. She follows up that violent prank with prankish violence: stabbing a target in the eye with a fancy hairpin, cutting off another victim’s penis after the kill to make the murder look worse than it was, and—my favorite—launching a head of cabbage at an opponent’s breasts during a Russian prison fight. Such scenes underscore what a near-impossible role Villanelle is, how crucial her brazen flair is to the series’ unique feminist camp, and most all, how immensely overdue Comer is for greater recognition. Continue reading →
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. [ . . . ]
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 →