In 2022, actress Jodie Comer will say goodbye to the TV role that made her a household name – Villanelle – in ‘Killing Eve’ and forge ahead with a promising film career and theatre debut.
As she receives Variety and the Edinburgh TV Festival’s 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award, the Liverpool-born actor says she’s parking her insecurities about moving from TV to film, and looking ahead to a West End debut she never thought would happen, reports variety.com.
While most British actors start out in theatre before graduating to the screen sector, Comer’s done it in reverse – though it wasn’t for lack of trying.
“I’ve done a lot of theater auditions throughout the years and a lot of the feedback was often very, very positive, but it was always, ‘She’s not theatre trained. She hasn’t gone to drama school,'” Comer tells Variety.
“I used to get quite defeated by that, and then I got to a point where I was like, ‘The right thing will come along with a director who believes in me, and who wants to do that extra work – whatever needs to be done.'”
Eventually, that director – ‘Together’ helmer Justin Martin – materialised, along with Suzie Miller’s award-winning play ‘Prima Facie’, which Comer will headline next spring at the Harold Pinter Theatre – a role she wasn’t entirely sure was hers, even after she was specifically given the script.
In some ways, she has her deliciously cruel and comedic Russian assassin Villanelle to thank.
The role earned her Emmy and BAFTA awards in 2019, and has allowed people to see her “in many, many different lights.”
Comer said: “I’ve spent four years with [Villanelle] now, so I feel like I have a really good sense of who she is, and where she’s at. The producers have always made it very clear that they want my input and my ideas – nothing’s off limits.”
Comer is clear, however, that Season 4 next year will definitely be the end of the road for ‘Killing Eve’.
“We never, ever want for that [quality] to drop, or to carry on a story for the sake of carrying on, whether that be greed or whatever the reason. It feels like where we are right now, it feels natural that we’ve come to this point where, now, we can really focus on the ending.”
Comer likely won’t be a part of any spin-offs that may be in the works for the show’s characters.
“I’ve by no means been a part of any conversations,” she says.
Most recently, the 28-year-old starred in searing Covid drama ‘Help’ alongside fellow Liverpudlian Stephen Graham.
A 90-minute one-off, ‘Help’ went inside a British care home during the pandemic, exposing the neglect and lack of resources that led to record fatalities. Comer played a nurse who joined the home just prior to the Covid outbreak, while Graham played a young patient with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“There was something about that experience that I never felt before, because the piece felt bigger than us, and there was no ego,” she said.
“It felt like we were there to serve something greater than us, and hopefully do it in a truthful, authentic and respectful way. It had to really be handled with care.”
The drama, which was so specific to the UK, was at the other end of a spectrum that’s seen Comer appear alongside Ryan Reynolds in the hit comedy ‘Free Guy’, and in Ridley Scott’s medieval drama ‘The Last Duel’.
On ‘The Last Duel’, Comer plays 14th century French noblewoman Marguerite de Carrouges, who is raped by her husband’s friend and gambles with her life to expose the truth. The actor’s performance is the foundational pillar of the movie, and it’s not surprising to see her name increasingly uttered in early Oscars buzz.
The project marked a turning point for Comer, whose imposter syndrome as a relative newcomer in Hollywood slowly dissipated while making the movie, replaced by a recognition that she had, in fact, earned her place.
Of the film’s difficult rape scenes between Comer and Adam Driver’s Jacques Le Gris, the actor describes “an incredibly respectful set.” The night before filming, her and Driver went to the studio to work out the physicality and “spoke a lot about what we needed to get from the scene.”