Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV
19 September 2018

With Killing Eve, has Jodie Comer proved herself the most exciting actor of her generation?

Comer’s turn as Villanelle is a piercing jolt of a performance that hits you like a hairpin to the eyeball.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

You might not know the name Jodie Comer, but you’ve probably seen her on TV in the past few years. Perhaps you caught her first major TV role, in E4’s My Mad Fat Diary, as lead character Rae’s popular, beautiful, under-confident and occasionally mean best friend, Chloe. (If not, why not? Its funny, warm depiction of one woman’s frustrating, insecure, horny teenage years is still yet to be matched on TV – it finished airing three years ago and I still recommend it all the time.) Perhaps you saw her as the Other Woman: petulant, defiant Kate, in the BBC’s Doctor Foster. Or as Ivy, the twitchy, frantic lead in BBC Three’s missing-girl-found-years-later drama, Thirteen.

What has impressed me about all of Comer’s roles is her ability to find an edge to vulnerability. As a traumatised kidnapping survivor, Comer is visibly fragile, but somehow steely, unafraid to bring a hint of the unlikeable to a role that many would play as a perfect, naive victim. As Chloe, she is self-absorbed, funny, vicious and loving all at once.

And now she plays Villanelle, a gorgeous, magnetic, sociopathic serial killer, all gleeful brutality and spite, in Killing Eve, 2018’s best TV show. Comer, whose Scouse accent has a habit of surprising interviewers, moves between languages, personas and (convincingly feigned) emotions at the flick of a switchblade. One minute, Villanelle charms a foolish, infatuated stranger with her doe eyes, or politely encourages a maternal woman to let her in for a cup of tea. The next, she’s revelling in mocking, sarcastic sympathy as her victim begs for their life, her eyes flashing with delight.

It’s a piercing jolt of a performance that hits you like a hairpin to the eyeball. Never has a murderer on screen had so much fun, and been so funny with it. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

This article appears in the 19 Sep 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Corbyn’s next war