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THR: You’ve talked about reading the initial pilot script for Killing Eve and scrolling through quite a bit of it before you realized you were being asked to play the central storyteller. Why do you think that is, and what did you learn from that realization?
Sandra Oh: That moment was a real punch in the gut for me because the internalization [that I couldn’t be seen as the lead] was really deep. I get the script, I’m on the phone with my agent, I remember exactly where I was, right by BAM in Brooklyn, and I’m going, “Scrolling, scrolling” (scans her phone). I’m just like, “I don’t know, who am I playing? What’s the part?” [My agent] goes, “Eve! You’re playing Eve.” Something happened to me in that moment where I couldn’t even see myself [as the central character].
Thandie Newton: You hadn’t given yourself permission.
Sandra Oh: Right. Why didn’t I?
Claire Foy: That makes me want to cry.
Sandra Oh: So the fact that [creator] Phoebe Waller-Bridge, BBC America and Sally Woodward Gentle, our producer, said, “Yes, why not this [for me]?” I felt slightly ashamed — and if I can’t see myself in that moment, then other people have that weight as well. And so we need to hold these things up for other people to see.
Thandie Newton: Oh my God, yes.
Sandra Oh: And that’s one of the reasons why I said, “I’m going to take this. I’m gonna leave my life here — I’m going to do everything to make this.”
What I love is that Eve is a middle-aged lady who walks around with a handbag,” she mused. “And Villanelle is a 20-year-old, beautiful, strong, all these things. You can feel the things, psychologically, that someone in her middle age is trying to grapple with. How do I find a new sense of power? Villanelle sees something in Eve which is very empowering — something that Eve does not see in herself and that’s something that other people don’t see.
After her most assignment, Villanelle is ordered to take a break; never one to do as she’s told, she goes ahead with her next mission regardless. Eve is given a dream opportunity to join a secret MI6 unit tracking Villanelle.
(New episodes of Killing Eve premiere on Sundays at 8/7c on BBC America and BBCAmerica.com)
The first time Jodie Comer met Phoebe Waller-Bridge wasn’t when she auditioned for a role on her BBC America show Killing Eve, but rather months before, at a party for the BAFTAs. It was hours into the night—the glamour was coming undone, the booze was flowing, and Comer and Waller-Bridge were both drunk and making frothy party chatter.
“I didn’t know nottin’ about Killing Eve,” Comer recalls in her thick Liverpudlian accent. “Then my audition came along and I was like”—her voice drops into a dramatic whisper—“Oh my God, I was so drunk that night. This is really awkward.”
She got the part about a week after her second audition and immediately set about building the character with Waller-Bridge, who cheerfully remembered her from that drunken BAFTAs night. The two sat down at a restaurant and worked on Villanelle’s timeline: where was she born? Who is her family? Why does she live by herself in Paris? Why does she kill?
We’re airing Paloma Faith’s ep of Sounds Like Friday Night/Live At The BBC at 6p ET/5p Central, today (Friday, April 13, 2018)
It’s a really good ep with live performances from Norwegian newcomer Sigrid, rock royalty and theme music writers Royal Blood, and Rita Ora.
We know more than we ever did before about how hard it can be for women trying to make it in Hollywood.
But Sandra Oh says she was prepared for anything the industry threw her way — sort of by accident. She had to face her toughest critics long ago — her parents — who absolutely did not want her to become an actor.
“It was very, very, very difficult to rebel against them coming from a very typical, strict Asian immigrant upbringing,” she says. “But when I defied them, there was a certain amount that could not hurt me because I had already upset the most important people to me. And when I achieved a certain amount of success and acceptance, they came around. They came around.”
Turns out Oh was pretty good at being an actor. In 2006 she won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the hard-charging Dr. Cristina Yang on the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy. For fans of smart, nuanced female characters, it’s a big deal that Sandra Oh is back on TV, a few years after leaving Grey’s.
Her new series is also female-driven — and a bit subversive, too. It’s a thriller, from the writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who made a name for herself with the show Fleabag. This new series, on BBC America, is called Killing Eve.
Oh stars as Eve, an American living in London. She works for MI5, Britain’s security service — that sounds super sexy and interesting, but her job isn’t those things. She longs for something more meaningful.
Photo: BBC America