FOX’s critically acclaimed thriller, Killing Eve, has been adapted by BAFTA Award winning writer and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) from the novella Codename Villanelle. Produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd (The Durrells in Corfu), Killing Eve centres on two very different women.

Eve is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfil her fantasies of being a spy. Villanelle is an elegant, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her. Killing Eve topples the typical spy-action thriller as these two fiercely intelligent women, equally obsessed with each other, go head to head in an epic game of cat and mouse. Starring Sandra Oh as Eve, and Jodie Comer as Villanelle, the series – a combination of brutal mischief making and pathos – is filled with sharp humor, originality and high stakes action.

Watch now on Catch Up

The background

So how did it all begin? Sally Woodward Gentle, CEO of Sid Gentle Films Ltd and Executive Producer on Killing Eve explains how she came across Luke Jennings’ ‘Codename Villanelle’. “A colleague of ours had dinner with the author of the novellas, Luke Jennings. She hadn't read them but handed these books onto us. We're a tiny little team at Sid Gentle and each of us read the novellas, and really enjoyed them because, although it is a genre that's quite familiar, he had an incredibly fresh take on it where it didn't feel sexually exploitative.” She continues “It felt that the women were very, very strong in it and, not in a sort of male fantasy – we wouldn't want to go there.”

Lee Morris, Executive Producer, adds “We thought they were just very gripping, full of potential, and you can immediately see that they were crying out to be brought to the screen in some form.”


image

Then it was finding the right person to adapt it in to a TV Series, which Sally did in Phoebe Waller-Bridge. After reading the stage version of Fleabag, she thought that Phoebe would be the perfect fit for this new show. “We optioned those books, and we wanted to find a writer that would actually bring something very different to them. I’d met Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and we got on incredibly well and I loved her. I loved her take on life; I loved her take on television. She's part of this generation of women who ‘get’ television and love television as much as they love the movies. And I just really thought what would these novellas be like in her hands.”

Morris said “We thought of the slightly crazy idea of asking Phoebe Waller-Bridge to come in and talk to us about it, and suggested that she might adapt these novellas. So what you end up with is Luke’s marvellous, quite exotic, but also real world spy story, put through the Phoebe filter. What comes out is something that I think is quite unusual and rather unexpected.”

On being approached by Sid Gentle Films Ltd about adapting the novella, Phoebe Waller-Bridge commented “Sally got in touch to say she had been sent Luke’s novellas and that she’d had this idea that I may be interested in them.” Waller-Bridge then read the novellas and explains: “The books were dark and fascinating character pieces but also there was this huge sprawling espionage story which was holding these characters at ransom. I loved that about the story as well as how the assassinations and the violence was explored through the mind of the assassin. I just thought these characters were so cool, interesting and complicated and that these two worlds were so rich and so different from one another.”

Waller-Bridge was then commissioned by Sid Gentle Films Ltd to write the script. “Phoebe’s got this extraordinary charisma and energy, it was a feeling that she had the black edge that we would need to bring to it,” said Woodward Gentle.


image

Women-led

Killing Eve has a strong team behind and in front of camera, including Sally Woodward Gentle and Lee Morris Executive Producing, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Lead Writer and Executive Producer, and Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer leading the cast, which was key to the team as Woodward Gentle explains: “It’s incredibly important to us that there are strong women involved both in front and behind the camera, there is a very small proportion of women for shows which have got action in them, so to have this really seen through the point of view of two women was very important.”

Killing Eve centres on two women: Eve, played by Sandra Oh, a pay-grade MI5 security services operative who develops a theory that there is a female assassin working at an extremely high skill level around the world; and the assassin, also known as Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer. Waller-Bridge said “These two creatures, one of them deeply empathetic (Eve) comes across this very psychopathic and emotionally challenged young woman (Villanelle) and they become rather drawn to each other.”


image

When it came to casting it was Sandra Oh that Sid Gentle Films snapped up to play the role of Eve, as Woodward Gentle explains: “Eve is the title role and everything is pivotal around Eve and Villanelle. But it’s Eve’s team that was really important in terms of how it gels. Sandra Oh brings an extraordinary, very complex and very nuanced performance to the role of Eve. Eve is an incredibly complicated person who outwardly seems to be a little bit ditzy, a little bit random and not really showing great ambition, but inwardly she knows that she is really clever, probably cleverer than a lot of people she is working with.” Waller-Bridge was thrilled to have Oh play the role of Eve, “Sandra, oh my God! She has brought the guts, the heart, the courage, the vulnerability, the intelligence of Eve right to the fore, I cannot imagine anyone else paying this part, she is so bold, she’s so smart and she’s so across the scripts and cares so much about the character.”

On casting Jodie Comer in the character of Villanelle Woodward Gentle said “Jodie and what she brings to the character is extraordinary, she’s a massive star, she has immense charm and she’s got incredible naughtiness. Jodie has got this chameleon quality where she can flip between characters in a way we feel is completely and utterly truthful to Villanelle.”

Waller-Bridge echoed Woodward Gentle’s sentiments: “Jodie is a force to be reckoned with, Villanelle is a really challenging character in the first place because obviously she’s a psychopath, so how do you make people care about a psychopath is the question that kept coming up early on - and the answer is cast Jodie Comer.”


image

Killing Eve S2 premieres this July

The second season of Killing will premiere on Wednesday, 1 July at 20:45, directly after the first season ends the previous week.

Season Two begins 30 seconds after the final episode of the first season, Eve is reeling and Villanelle has disappeared. Eve has no idea if the woman she stabbed is alive or dead, and now both of them are in deep trouble. Eve has to find Villanelle before someone else does, but unfortunately, she’s not the only person looking for her.

Based on the novels by Luke Jennings and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve combines brutal mischief making and pathos, is filled with sharp humor, originality and high stakes action. Season two starts with Eve reeling from her act of violence against Villanelle and doesn’t know whether she is alive or dead. A paranoid and severely injured Villanelle manages to get herself to hospital for treatment. Carolyn then approaches Eve with an intriguing opportunity….

“In a very short time, Killing Eve has become a firm audience favourite with its intricate plot lines, intriguing characters, fast-paced tempo and unending twists and turns. Given that South African audiences have not been able to watch this riveting series before, we are thrilled to broadcast the second season directly after the first. The third season will follow directly thereafter” said Evert van der Veer, Vice President, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Company Africa.

Killing Eve is produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd and based on the Codename Villanelle novellas by Luke Jennings and is executive produced by Sally Woodward Gentle, Lee Morris, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Gina Mingacci and lead writer Emerald Fennell. Sandra Oh and Francesca Gardiner are co-executive producers. Elinor Day serves as series producer. Damon Thomas returns to direct and is also executive producer, with Lisa Brühlmann and Francesca Gregorini also directing. The series is distributed by Endeavor Content.

Killing Eve airs Wednesdays at on Fox (DStv 125) at 20:45. Binge S1 from the beginning on Catch Up


Download and watch later with DStv Now

Get the DStv Now app (Apple or Android) and download episodes to watch on your phone or tablet – just remember to connect to the Wi-Fi first so there are no surprise data costs.

Get it on Google Play

Feel every moment with DStv