Following the stunningly catastrophic Season 2 finale on Sunday, May 26, fans now have a better understanding of why Phoebe Waller-Bridge won’t act in Killing Eve. Waller-Bridge, series creator of the highly-addictive BBC America thriller, joined The Hollywood Reporter's Comedy Actresses Roundtable alongside comedians Maya Rudolph, Regina Hall, Jane Fonda, Tiffany Haddish, Alex Borstein, and Natasha Lyonne to discuss the acclaimed series starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.
During the roundtable, Waller-Bridge explained why writing herself into Killing Eve “just didn’t feel right.”
“Acting in Killing Eve — I felt very early on that it just didn’t feel right, and I don’t really know why. I just felt like, I’m not in there. I can’t see it. And then we had conversations with producers [where] I spent about 15 minutes trying to turn one of the characters into something I could play. The character was just going, ‘F*ck off. I don’t want you anywhere near me.’ It just felt much more organic to do it like that.”
While a role in the spy thriller didn’t make sense for the series creator, Waller-Bridge explained that she felt more at home with her role in Fleabag, the critically-acclaimed comedy drama series she created for BBC. The British series follows titular character Fleabag (Waller-Bridge), a dry-witted woman contending with the trials and tribulations of life and love in London as she grapples with grief. She told the roundtable of her character, “[With] something like Fleabag, that character comes from the depths of me.”
During the discussion, she also touched on the decision to bring Fleabag back for a second (and final) season after a three year gap — one she didn’t initially intend to make:
“I was completely convinced and had said with a great amount of smug artistic integrity that I would not come back for a second series, but the idea came from the journey I’m gonna take the audience on… I thought I was gonna leave it, but then I had an idea of how I can play with the form again, and what the audience would mean to her again and what she would mean to the audience… The first series is her going, ‘I never want you to find out. I never want you to find out. I never want you to find out.’ This series begins with her going, ‘I know you know everything so we’re going on a different journey together.”
In the second season of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge laid bare the inner confrontations Fleabag had to face in regards to her best friend’s death. With the introduction of Andrew Scott’s character as The Priest, Season 2 was filled with spiritual yearnings, poignant explorations of grief, and, of course, comedic moments that left fans reeling with the complex character.
During the roundtable, Waller-Bridge also reflected on how she’s similar to her fictional counterpart. “It is both for better and for worse because Fleabag says what she thinks, whether it’s to the camera privately or in real life, she says what she really thinks in the moment. I think I’m still learning how to do that,” she said. “Writing for me is how I do that. I write women who don’t give a shit. I’m teaching myself how to be [that woman] and I feel such a catharsis when I turn to the camera and say that f*cking line. It’s such an amazing feeling.”
While Fleabag has come to its conclusion, perhaps Waller-Bridge will potentially return to her Killing Eve roots. The series creator exited the thriller as a writer after Season 1, but given Killing Eve’s third season renewal, perhaps she’ll be inspired to return for a role that feels more organic this time around.