As Jodie Comer prepares for her first major Hollywood release – sci-fi blockbuster Free Guy – British Vogue features director Giles Hattersley meets a woman with the world at her feet.
For aspiring actors outside the M25, Jodie Comer’s rise to fame is the most exciting Tinseltown invasion since noted Brummie Julie Walters stormed the 1984 Oscars with Educating Rita. The past 12 months have shown how unstoppable the 26-year-old Liverpudlian is: she scored an Emmy and a BAFTA for her role as the charismatic televisual sociopath Villanelle in Killing Eve, and has a feverish millennial fan base backing her.
Comer was discovered, quite by accident, at age 12, when she read a dramatic monologue about the Hillsborough tragedy at a local theatre festival, and was cast in her first professional job not long after – a BBC Radio 4 play that paid £200. She has worked solidly ever since, whether on television or at Tesco in-between jobs, building a career without drama school or industry contacts (her father Jimmy is a sports massage therapist at Everton FC, her mother Donna works for Merseytravel).
Well, almost solidly. “I remember there was a year where I didn’t work for eight or nine months,” Comer tells British Vogue. “You get up in the morning, get yourself ready, get to the train station, two-hour train, get to your audition, you’re in there for 10 minutes, and then you’re coming all the way back home. Sometimes I was doing it three times a week. What I realised, the more that I wasn’t working, was that I stunk of desperation, basically. It became: ‘I need the job.’ And then you go into auditions and they can smell it.”
She has since found her niche playing small-screen dynamos lacking empathy – from My Mad Fat Diary’s resident mean girl, Chloe, to Kate, the notorious other woman in Dr Foster. And of course, Villanelle in Killing Eve. What can we expect from season three? Will we get more glimpses into the assassin’s past? “We kind of delve into it a little bit,” she confirms. “The audience love what they love about her, but it’s been nice to show a different side to that. Maybe a little bit of vulnerability.”