'Killing Eve' Assassin Jodie Comer on First Emmy Nod, "Legend" Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Golden Rule Behind Villanelle

Jodie Comer-Getty-H 2019
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Phoebe Waller-Bridge's hit spy series garnered nine Emmy Award nominations Tuesday morning, including lead actress in a drama series for Comer.

Team Phoebe Waller-Bridge had a stellar morning Tuesday, racking up nine Emmy Award nominations for Killing Eve and 11 for Fleabag, and no one could be more excited than Eve's beloved assassin herself, Villanelle.

Hopping on the phone with The Hollywood Reporter during a break from filming in Boston, first-time nominee Jodie Comer couldn't help but sing Waller-Bridge's praises. "That woman is leading the way. Just a force." Not to mention, her excitement to see Waller-Bridge's spin on another elite spy, James Bond. "I'm so excited to see everything that she does. I feel like she is a legend already and is gonna be one of the greats."

Nominated for lead actress in a drama series for Killing Eve, Comer was joined by co-star Sandra Oh in the same category, who picked up an additional nomination for her guest work on Saturday Night Live.

Of working opposite Oh, Comer shares that she revels in how every viewer's interpretation of their cat-and-mouse relationship is different. "I think everyone takes from it what they feel, which is lovely because we've never wanted to explain anything to an audience. It's always been suggestive."

But at the same time, she notes that Villanelle's pull toward the MI6 investigator stems from her deep longing for normalcy. "Amidst all this craziness that is her life, I think she thinks she wants a steady relationship, and she grasps what love is and sees that in Eve's life. She admires Eve, within the work that she does and her determination going after Villanelle. That chase Villanelle feels from her."

The BBC America hit also nabbed nods for drama series and supporting recognition for Fiona Shaw., who received double nominations this year as well — the second for her guest appearance as an astute therapist on Waller-Bridge's Fleabag.

Comer got word of the nominations post-workout, as she was in the gym when the announcement went live. "I came out the gym and had a load of celebratory messages from family and friends. I spoke with Sandra on text and I got a wonderful voice note from Phoebe. (Laughs.) With lots of screaming." 

The BAFTA winner credits Waller-Bridge with encouraging her to take risks. "I'd say that's my biggest lesson from Phoebs. To dare to do things and be different. I've always admired her fearlessness. She says what she feels and that sounds very easy, but actually it's not. I think you can see it through her work. She's ridiculously funny and intelligent and such a great person to be around, too."

A fan of Fleabag, Comer admits that after she finished the last three episodes of the series, she sat on the couch for 40 minutes "unable to speak" and comprehend what just happened. "I had actually watched the first three episodes and then came to the States for a little bit, so I had to wait till I got back to finish. After, I texted her and was like, 'Do you realize what you've created?'"

The Liverpool-born actress, who has given star turns in E4's My Mad Fat Diary, Starz's The White Princess and BBC's Thirteen, didn't think anything could top season one, but the second "just blew it out of the water, and I was like, 'Whoa, how is that even possible?'"

While Killing Eve has passed off the baton to a different female showrunner since the first season, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's golden rule for Villanelle has remained that "Villanelle never ever uses her beauty," a character quality that was key for Comer signing on. 

"When I first read 'assassin' I kind of rolled my eyes and imagined her in six-inch heels and leather pants, using her sexuality to get herself out of situations. I was so wrong and I should've known that anyway by Phoebe being behind it. But this woman has so much more to her, as all women do," Comer recalled of her initial misgivings.

The 26-year-old also shared the relief she felt: "As a young actress, not to have that pressure was so nice. I always feel what makes Villanelle attractive or sexy is something that is so understated or is always something that is a little messed up. (Laughs.) But that was a huge thing. Even the fact that she's scaling the wall and she's in boots, I'm like, 'Yes. This woman is practical because she's doing a job.' It all makes sense. And there's a woman behind it. That's the biggest reason why, there is a female voice who understands and is driving it forward."

As viewers discovered in season one, Comer's stylish onscreen counterpart always stocks her fridge with champagne; the actress plans to drag out the celebrations for a couple of days in classic Villanelle style. "Today was a cup of Yorkshire tea and brownies. But my friend is coming to visit tomorrow, so I've got a bottle of champagne in the fridge for her arrival. Tomorrow is gonna be a day of bubbles."