From Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), the BBC America series Killing Eve is centered on two women – Eve (Sandra Oh), a bored but smart MI5 security officer who’s forever stuck at her desk job, and Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a talented killer. When these two women happen to cross paths, they become equally obsessed with each other and find themselves in an epic and thrilling game of cat-and-mouse.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actress Sandra Oh talked about how fulfilling her role on Killing Eve is, what she liked about the voice of the series, the experience of playing an unconscious character, the fascinating dynamic between Eve and Villanelle, working with a talent like Fiona Shaw (the agent who recruits Eve to track down the psychopathic female assassin, Villanelle), and her desire to continue exploring this story.
Collider: This character is amazing! Was this one of those roles where there was just no way that you would not want to do this?
SANDRA OH: It was so much fun and really, really, fulfilling. It was fun, on so many levels, to play opposite such fantastic actors, like Jodie [Comer] and Fiona [Shaw] and David Haig and Owen McDonnell, was just amazing. To be in London and to travel, we shot in five countries, which was just exciting to do. And then, working with Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] very, very closely was also very exciting.
This show is fun and smart, with two bad-ass women at its center, and I really loved it! Did you know it would be all of that, when you signed on?
OH: No. I don’t think you can ever know what things are going to evolve into, but there are certain things that I wanted to be aligned with. The fact that the voice of the show is a young woman’s voice, and her tone and style is very fresh, I definitely wanted to be aligned with that. I really like the vibe of the people at BBC American. And I liked the fact that this show is about these two women. My character is a person who is really trying to carve her place in the world, and is involved in a relationship with this assassin. I find that very curious. I was interested in trying to figure out why that is.
Do you feel like this is a woman who has really been unhappy with where she’s at?
OH: One of the reasons that I like playing Eve is that I find her to be a very unconscious character. I don’t think that she would even say that she’s unhappy. It’s almost like she’s just not awake. But the spark that happens with Villanelle leaves her wanting more and wanting to break out of her shell, and then you see that transition. You’ll see that really come alive. You’ll see it grow, more and more, through the eight episodes.
Do you think she ever would have gotten to that point without this happening to her?
OH: No, I don’t think so. I think she would’ve just gone through life, fine and okay. She does have a natural curiosity, in that way, but the spark that happens between them, across countries, is the energy that really changes, forever, who she’s going to be.
I love how smart she is and how much more sassy and outspoken she’s becoming. Is that fun to get to play with?
OH: Definitely! I think that continues on, and then it also has room to unravel and get messy and get dark.
For people who are wondering what this show is, what can you say about the journey for this season?
OH: Killing Eve is about these two women who are hunting each other. They might think that it’s to stop the other person or kill the other person, but really, it’s to save the other person. They just don’t know that, themselves. This season is all about that first meeting.
They pretty much have to get to know each other without actually getting to do that directly.
What’s that like?
OH: I think it’s constantly fascinating. You’re having that dynamic with XYZ person in your life, who you might not be actually talking to. We’re dealing with that, all the time, in the leaders that we have and the pop stars that we love. You’re having a dynamic with them. It just goes from a dynamic that’s unconscious to becoming more conscious. They both really, really, really want it. Even though this show is about my and Jodie’s characters, we didn’t actually physically work with each other a lot, but we would always feel so present with each other. There were times where we’d have the same shooting day and we’d be like, “Hi, how are you?!” But it was still very, very rich. We were still definitely having a relationship. It’s also so great to come up with it, in your head. You think someone is something and you project all this stuff on them, and then you have to figure out whether that’s true or not.