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Sandra Oh has been gotten plenty of Golden Globes love for her role in Killing Eve—and rightfully so, because she’s been amazing since we knew her as Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy. But the real surprise in one of 2018’s best new shows (which has two Golden Globe and two Emmy noms) is her on-screen partner, Jodie Comer. (opens in new tab)Listed as a Best Breakout in The Atlantic, Comer’s depiction of Villanelle is unlike anything else we're seeing on TV right now.
A little background: Killing Eve (opens in new tab)was created for BBC America and is based on the novellas, Codename Villanelle, by Luke Jennings. It follows Villanelle (Comer), a Russian woman recruited as a high-flying, globetrotting assassin for a shadowy organization, and the titular Eve Polastri (Oh), the MI5 agent tracked with killing her...and who might have a thing for her, too.
Villanelle is a beautiful, deadly, unapologetic, sexually fluid killer with no empathy—and yet she’s totally lovable anyways. It’s a testament to her terrific acting that even while Villanelle is literally murdering someone, I just want her to be happy, okay?
We’re going to see a lot of Comer in the next few years, so here’s everything you need to know about 2018’s most exciting, fashionable new actress.
She’s been a star in the U.K. for a while.
Comer has long been a mainstay on British television, with various starring roles in Thirteen as Ivy (a woman held prisoner for 13 years), The White Princess as Princess Elizabeth (wife to Henry VII), and Doctor Foster as Kate (the “other woman” in a love triangle). This is her first big break, but she’s been in the biz for a while. Her first professional acting gig came when she was 12 and her first TV role when she was 15.
She’s British, but her accent game is strong.
The 25-year-old actor originally hails from Liverpool, but she’s impersonated a ton of different, difficult accents. Killing Eve is particularly tricky—Villanelle is Russian and impersonates all kinds of accents and languages, from French to American to Italian. Comer doesn’t actually speak any of the languages, but learns them phonetically from the script and her coach.
Even though the show’s been a hit in the U.S., Comer hasn’t really been around to witness it. When she’s not acting, Comer lives quietly at home with her mom and dad, basically the polar opposite of her alter-ego.
She brings depth to a really complex character.
Killing Eve is filled with women both on-screen and off. The creator is Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Fleabag; the new head writer is Emerald Fennell from Call the Midwife,; and many of the other producers, writers, and crew are women. Comer goes toe-to-toe with the more experienced Oh and brings nuance to the role—a little bit of history and humanity to what might otherwise be a straightforward sociopath.
But, like Walter White or Dexter Morgan, she doesn’t apologize for being the way she is. A character who kills for fun is often played by a man, but Comer has fun showing how a female psycho might look, sound, and act different. She exists in a sexist world, but she uses that system to her advantage. She can weaponize her sexuality, defy expectations when people underestimate her, and operate under the radar…until she starts showing off, that is.
She's got a fun style.
Comer/Villanelle is deliberately different than the traditional Hollywood “look,” which only adds to her unique appeal. I, personally, love that the main sex symbol of the series isn’t a size zero, but gets just as many fabulous clothes. One of the joys of the show is Villanelle’s expensive life, with the killer-for-hire decked out in couture in her Parisian apartment like a murderous Carrie Bradshaw.
Comer admits she doesn’t have that same sartorial fearlessness. “[The designer] chose things that I would never normally pick up or try on. It was always just wonderful because it would depend what city [Villanelle] is in, and that would influence the way that she dressed,” she told Vogue. In real life, Comer’s stylist is Nisha Grewal, who also represents other U.K. stars like Gemma Chan and Rose Leslie. Comer is evolving her own individual style, ranging from flowers and a braid to silky leopard print. She told Stylist, “I’ve always been pretty free and worn what I want,” but added, “I always need someone else to take me out of my comfort zone.”
She's bringing more badassery to life.
We just got a few sneak peek photos of the second season of Killing Eve in Entertainment Weekly, which we’ll get on April 7, 2019. Spoiler alert: Villanelle ended Season 1 with a serious stab wound to the stomach, courtesy of Eve. But no one will be surprised to learn that Comer’s Villanelle is alive and, if not well, then still kicking. The creators knows better than to kill off the best part of the show. Plus, Villanelle hasn’t killed Eve yet! It’s right there in the title!
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Next, Comer will star in Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds (“A bank teller discovers that he's actually a player inside a video game,” according to IMDb). Hopefully, this be the first of many roles to come for the star.
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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