Phoebe Waller-Bridge On The "Oddly Empowering" Thing About A Violent Female Lead

Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said bringing a violent female lead to life on screen was “oddly empowering”.

Waller-Bridge, who turned Luke Jennings’ Codename Villanelle books into the hit show starring Jodie Comer as the world’s most well-dressed assassin, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr she felt viewers were “slightly exhausted by seeing women being brutalised on screen” or “on slabs the whole time”.

Discussing recent criticism levelled at crime dramas like Luther for being too violent on The Andrew Marr Show, the writer and actress said: “I think seeing women be violent… there’s something instantly refreshing and oddly empowering.”

In season one gripped fans watched as Villanelle rampaged her way across Europe leaving a trail of bodies in her wake – with Sandra Oh’s obsessed MI6 agent Eve Polastri in pursuit. Despite Killing Eve‘s high body count, Waller-Bridge pointed out that the show’s home on BBC America meant there were limits to what could be shown on screen. “Actually the challenge was to make it feel very violent without really showing anything,” she said.

Waller-Bridge, who is currently starring in the second season of her award-winning tragicomedy Fleabag on BBC One, also told how she worried about being labelled a “bad feminist” when she was first writing the character that set her on the path to international renown.

“When I was first writing her that felt like the most honest and frightening thing to put out there,” she said of the show’s eponymous lead, who desperately craves male validation and admits she would trade five years of her life for a “perfect” body. “You’re not supposed to say that sort of thing.”

Waller-Bridge said there were “so many pot holes in the road” for women who identified with feminism but “don’t tick all the boxes of being a perfect spokesperson”.

Waller-Bridge is also working with her long-time collaborator Vicky Jones on another TV show, Run, that’s due to air on HBO in the US later this year. A UK release date is yet to be announced for the project, a romantic comedy starring Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson.


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