Backstage: Jodie Comer Proves Drama School Is Not a Requirement

Answering a work call on vacation can ruin a getaway. In Jodie Comer’s case, it meant cutting a family trip to Barcelona short when she picked up the phone to learn she was needed in Los Angeles for a callback—immediately.

That interruption led to another call, one that meant her vacation availability for the foreseeable future would be greatly diminished: She had landed the role of Villanelle, a mercurial assassin on the upcoming “Killing Eve,” a BBC America series from “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Starring opposite Sandra Oh, the titular Eve, as an obsessive counterintelligence assistant at MI5, Comer’s character hides in plain sight as a villainous hit woman. In the first episode alone, we follow Villanelle from Vienna to her home base in Paris, then to Tuscany, Italy, and back. She moves effortlessly between languages while making jokes and taking nothing but her job seriously.

“What I love about Villanelle is that she’s so many characters in one. She puts on these different personas, so sometimes it was like playing different people intertwined,” Comer says over lunch at the Crosby Hotel in New York City. And while climbing the drainpipe of a Tuscan estate house and speaking Italian and French—plus English with a Russian accent—was not easy, the role provided access points for the British talent: “She reminded me of an actress; that’s how I approached her,” she says. “She sees dressing up, the languages and everything, as a challenge. She will take so much time in making sure a persona she’s putting on is perfect for what she needs to do.”

Comer brings a duality to Villanelle that allows her to stand out in one scene and intentionally blend in in another. “I wanted her to be someone you could walk past in the street and not notice, because that is the truth of it—you shouldn’t be able to pick someone like her out,” she says.

The show sees Villanelle flying under everyone’s radar, even as a string of her high-profile marks turn up dead. But, of course, Eve has an instinct about Villanelle, one that messes with the assassin’s desire to go unnoticed. And when Eve’s insistence gets her fired from MI5, only to be given free rein as a new hire on a privately operated team, the cat-and-mouse game truly begins, with Comer’s character expertly blending in to evade capture.

The BAFTA TV–nominated Comer, who was first introduced to American audiences on Starz’s short-lived 2017 miniseries “The White Princess,” relied on feedback from creator Waller-Bridge when developing Villanelle. The two worked together extensively to craft a fully realized—even sometimes sympathetic—character. “The genius thing about Phoebe is she finds the light in the darkest moments,” Comer remembers. “In a scene that was actually quite serious, she’d find humor. A lot of it went against my instinct. It was great having her on set to learn that, because by the end, I fully understood it.”

It’s a skill she says she’ll bring to future jobs. “I don’t think anyone can do what Phoebe does, but it has reprogrammed my brain to recognize that what’s on the page is not always as it seems. Now, I’ll try a scene different ways, and if it’s silly, I don’t do it, but it’s fine to try.”

And while Comer was no stranger to TV, “Killing Eve” also became a master class in working with different directing styles. “We had three directors, and they had completely different ways of approaching their work. I’d get into a motion and then someone would bring a different energy in,” she says of her time on set. “I’m constantly learning with each new job, especially about people, which is important for playing characters.”

That learning process never stops for Comer; she views every new role as a lesson, a mini acting class, not unlike the weekend drama classes she took early on in her career. At 15, she won a local drama competition in her native Liverpool and got cast from an open call for a lead in a BBC Radio play. Her co-stars connected her with an agent and headshot photographer, and by the time she had graduated high school, she already had several professional jobs on her résumé.

“I was working with people twice or three times my age. I matured and learned so much by being in that environment,” Comer says. She also recognized that she was “lucky enough at that age to be working,” and chose to continue rather than pause for drama school. Though she admits there are aspects of her craft that could benefit from formal training, she knows some skills you just can’t learn in a classroom. “I don’t think talent or an instinct for acting is something you can teach.”

A big part of being a professional actor that can’t be taught? Accepting rejection and waiting. After her early success, Comer faced a life that’s well-known to the working actor: “You have to be confident enough to pick yourself up and go to 30 meetings and be told no every time and not take that to heart. That was something I really wasn’t aware of, being told no.” But the waiting game is part of what she appreciates about the job. “I’ve had months at a time without a project, which is a bit daunting, but that’s what I love about it. You just don’t know where you’re going to be next week. You might still be at home on your couch in pajamas or you can be going to London and filming a series like ‘Killing Eve.’ ”

Being unemployed for stretches of time has proven just as informative as getting cast in a project. “I learned you can’t [pin] your happiness on the validation of getting a job,” she says. Her go-to career advice has come not from her co-stars, but her nonactor parents: “My mum used to always say to me, ‘What’s meant for you won’t pass you by,’ and it’s true. If I didn’t get something, it wasn’t meant for me. I’m so much better at understanding that now rather than feeling as if I were robbed.”

“Killing Eve” is the only exception to that rule. “Usually, I can watch if I don’t get a part,” she explains, “but I said, ‘If I don’t get this, I don’t think I can watch it,’ which is such a shame because I love this script so much.”

Ahead of the show’s April 8 premiere, Comer is already hoping she gets to revisit the young killer. “Villanelle is not self-conscious at all; she doesn’t care. At first, because I’m quite a self-conscious person, I’d have to totally be rid of that. The more it went on, the more I went with it, the more fun it was, and the better it worked. It was so liberating,” she says. “It’s so bad because I just excuse everything she does, which isn’t always right. I love her. I feel so lucky.”

While she waits for the world to be introduced to Villanelle and “Killing Eve,” Comer’s enjoying her free time and even the uncertainty of her next steps—she never knows how long it will last. “Maybe I should book a holiday,” she jokes. “Just get a one-way ticket and see what happens.” Though she’ll keep her phone close by, just in case.

Source: Backstage

‘Killing Eve’: BBC America Sets Premiere Date

Dramatic thriller Killing Eve, starring Grey’s Anatomy alum Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer (The White Princess) will premiere at 8 PM Sunday, April 8, BBC America announced today during its portion of the TCA winter press tour.

Based on the novellas by Luke Jennings and written by Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve centers on two women; Eve (Oh) is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfill her fantasies of being a spy. Villanelle (Comer) is a mercurial, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her. These two fiercely intelligent women, equally obsessed with each other, go head to head in an epic game of cat and mouse.

Co-starring alongside Oh and Comer are Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, True Blood), who plays Carolyn, a lead MI6 agent, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Downward Dog) as Elena, Eve’s assistant. The cast also includes Kim Bodnia (The Bridge), David Haig (Penny Dreadful), Sean Delaney, and Owen McDonnell (My Mother and Other Strangers).

“In Killing Eve, a genius bunch of women behind and in front of the camera transcend the predictable with this funny and heart-stopping twisted cat and mouse thriller,” said Sarah Barnett, BBCA President. “From creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge – with remarkable performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer – Killing Eve stands out in a sea of scripted stories as refreshingly entertaining and great fun.”

Killing Eve is produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd. for BBC America with Waller-Bridge serving as lead writer, showrunner and executive producer. Sally Woodward Gentle and Lee Morris are executive producers, with Colin Wratten serving as producer and Sandra Oh serving as associate producer.

Source: Deadline Hollywood

The White Princess Star Jodie Comer Thinks Los Angeles Is “Like A Video Game”

This year, 24-year-old Liverpool native Jodie Comer struck her breakout role with The White Princess, Starz’s sequel to the hit BBC mini-series The White Queen. In the show, Comer plays a young Elizabeth of York, corsets and all. Luckily, the actress was prepared for the costume drama, thanks to a childhood obsession with another leading Brit. ” I grew up watching Keira Knightley films nonstop,” said Comer. “I always admired period dramas and just everything that goes into it.” As for the period dressing itself, Comer has come to find one downside to putting on the look: sneaking in a quick snooze. “The hardest part about a corset is that you can’t really nap at lunch,” she said. Here, the actress discusses her hit Starz show, her crush on Paul Rudd, and why shopping is her secret skill.

Do you remember your first audition?
My first professional audition was for a radio play in Manchester. That was the first audition that I got. It was my first paid job, which I think was like £150, and I thought it was megabucks.

How did The White Princess come about?

Starz found me by sending me an e-mail for an audition for The White Princess. I had one first, initial audition, which went pretty well, which then led to a recall. A week later, I had found out that I got the role, which is very unique. That doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes you’re waiting a very long time, and sometimes you don’t hear anything at all. So that was a nice experience. I grew up watching Keira Knightley films nonstop, and I always admired period dramas and just everything that goes into it. I feel like when you perform in a period drama, it’s so easy to transform yourself into someone else because the costumes are so different. The hardest part about a corset is that you can’t really nap at lunch. I hear a lot of people saying that they can’t eat. I still eat, and probably that’s my problem; it all just holds in your stomach. I don’t have the resistance to not eat very much when I’ve got a corset on.

When you are playing a real person, do you feel obligation to read up on them?
if you’re playing a real person, you definitely need to do some research. The great thing about playing Lizzie [Elizabeth of York] was you could find this information, but at the end of the day, no one lives to tell the tale of what she was like. So you still have so much freedom to make her your own.

You also have some very intense sex scenes.
I think the tricky thing about that particular scene in episode one is that in the book, it is actually a rape scene. When we came to shoot it, Emma [Frost, the show’s writer] was very clear that she did not want to show that on the show. What I think is quite interesting about that scene is Lizzie kind of regains as much control as she possibly can. She senses his weakness, and she essentially humiliates him. It’s an interesting scene. I find it quite harrowing because I acted it, and then we had a screening and a lot of the audience were cheering her. It was quite something.

Because of the show, your face is on a lot of buses. Have you stopped to take a picture with one?
No, I haven’t. I was in the airport flying home from New York a couple of weeks ago and I was in the shop, and there was all the books with my face on it. I tried to get a sly picture without anyone seeing, because I thought, “Oh my God, if someone sees me taking this picture, you’re gonna be such a narcissist. Get a grip. Go away.” But, I had to.

Who was your cinematic crush growing up?
Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man. Laughter is the way to my heart, and I find him hilarious and he’s cute. I just love that scene where they’re in the concert and slapping the bass. I want to be in a concert with Paul Rudd slapping the bass. And Jason Segal. But, I mean, I didn’t want to sound greedy. You said one.

What movies make you cry?
A movie that makes me cry every time is Billy Elliot. That scene where he’s dancing in the hall, and his dad walks in. And the first time his dad can see how amazing he is dancing, but he’s so conflicted with kind of his own feelings towards it. Oh, it’s so emotional. Forrest Gump, as well. The scene with the kid, and that scene at the end when he goes to the tree where he buried Jenny.

What was your favorite birthday growing up?
Is it really bad that I can’t remember my birthdays? What did I do on my last birthday? Okay, so I went for food with my friends, my girlfriend, and then we went into town and had loads of cocktails. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember my birthdays.

Do you have any secret skills?
I know how to sew. I’m a really good sewer. Is shopping a skill? Let’s go with that. I love clothes. I love food.I probably spend most of my money in Marks & Spencer. I did a little bit of walking around yesterday in New York and went to Opening Ceremony. I could never pull any of that stuff off, so I just appreciated it and then left.

Have you been out to Los Angeles yet?
I went to L.A. for the first time at the beginning of the year. I loved it. When I first got there, I was so overwhelmed. It was my first time in America, so I kind of felt like I was on a different planet. It felt like a video game. It was really weird. I’d done five weeks of general meetings, which is a lot of kind of going into a room, introducing yourself, and basically just speaking about yourself for 15 minutes. So after five weeks of that, at the end you kind of want to punch yourself in the face. But it was lovely. I stayed with my friends. It was nice to have some sunshine, because we don’t get a lot of that in Liverpool.

Do you still live with your family in Liverpool?
I can’t bring myself to leave just yet, but it’s gonna get to a point. My brother’s still at home, too. He’s 21. And I said to my mom, “You do realize we’re gonna be the film Step Brothers. We’re both gonna be 30, 40-odd years old, and we’re still gonna be in the kids’ rooms.” Which would be a lot of fun, but I’m hoping I can bring myself to fly the nest at some point.

Source: W Magazine

Paste Magazine: Jodie Comer & Jacob Collins-Levy Interview

The White Princess is the newest series from Starz that brings a popular book to the small screen with film worthy production. We were able to sit down and speak with the stars of the show, Jodi Comer (Princess Elizabeth) and Jacob Levy-Collins (King Henry VII). The series premieres on April 16, at 8pm EST.

‘The White Princess’: Jodie Comer On Playing Lizzie Of York In Starz Series

Jodie Comer, who plays Lizzie of York, aka “The White Princess” on Starz, tells Access Hollywood about her plans for premiere night – Sunday, April 16. Then, the British actress reveals what part of the first series – “The White Queen” – she saw before filming the new show. And, Jodie discusses Lizzie’s relationship with Margaret Beaufort (Michelle Fairley), mother to the man Lizzie is betrothed to – King Henry VII (Jacob Collins-Levy). “The White Princess” premieres Sunday, April 16 at 8 PM ET/PT on Starz.

Starz shares first stirring teaser for The White Princess

Starz released on Thursday the first teaser for its upcoming drama series, starring Jodie Comer as the titular royal. Glimpses of Comer as Elizabeth of York, the Queen of England in the late 15th century are shown — including a dramatic removal-of-the-crown shot.

It’s a sequel to BBC’s 2013 series The White Queen, which, like The White Princess, was adapted from a Philippa Gregory historical novel. Gregory’s first three novels of the Cousins’ War series were the basis of The White Queen.

Writer Emma Frost and director Jamie Payne return from The White Queen. Frost will serve as showrunner, and Payne will reportedly direct five of the eight episodes. Gregory will executive produce.

See the teaser above. The White Princess also stars Jacob Collins-Levy, Essie Davis, and Game of Thrones‘ Michelle Fairley.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Jodie Comer: ‘I felt I had to tread very carefully making Rillington Place’

​”It’s such a sensitive subject,” explains the Thirteen actress.

BBC One is tackling a real-life miscarriage of justice in new three-part drama Rillington Place.

It tells the story of Timothy Evans (Nico Mirallegro) – an innocent man falsely accused of the murders committed by his neighbour, John Christie (Tim Roth).

Jodie Comer (Thirteen, Doctor Foster) plays Evans’ wife Beryl and told Digital Spy that she “absolutely” felt a sense of responsibility in taking on the part.

“It’s such a sensitive subject,” she said. “I felt I had to tread very carefully – and I definitely felt a responsibility. There are families now still having to deal with what happened.

“For them to open up to us – to producers, to directors – and sit there and talk through and relive these moments again… I think it’s such a credit to them.”

It was the injustice of Evans’ story that appealed to Comer – and a desire that he and his wife not be forgotten.

“Every day in the newspapers, we’re just bombarded with awful events. It’s so easy to just forget these people and forget what happened to them. So I felt it was really important to tell this story.”

Roth is joined on-screen by Samantha Morton as Christie’s wife Ethel, while Comer was reunited with her My Mad Fat Diary co-star Mirallegro.

“It’s strange, because Nico and I had a lot of emotional scenes, which are always hard. But we both really understand how each other works, so it was actually very… I don’t think ‘fun’ is the word, but creatively it was really rewarding. We both pushed each other.

“We get on really well, so you’re not pussy-footing round. You can just tell each other how you’re feeling or if you want to try something different – we’re very open with each other, in that sense. I think it helped, just diving straight into it.”

Rillington Place begins on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC One.

Source: Digital Spy