Posted by admin on May 15, 2023

The ‘Killing Eve’ actress made her West End and Broadway debut in the role, in which she is solo on stage for the entirety of the drama.

In the play Prima Facie, Jodie Comer is alone on stage for the full length of the show’s 100 minutes, starting as a brash, bloviating barrister, then turning to a quieter, more vulnerable woman trying to find justice for herself in the very legal system that had previously propped her up.

Before making her West End debut in the play last year, the Killing Eve star says she hadn’t appeared on stage (aside from a play in a “very, very small theater” in Scotland when she was 16 years old). And so taking on this marathon role not only required intense dedication and memorization, but also a recalibration of her acting style in order to emote to an 800-plus seat theater, rather than to the camera.

In the drama, written by Suzie Miller, Comer plays Tessa Ensler, a talented, young lawyer who defends individuals accused of sexual assault and then goes through the justice system herself as a victim of rape. Comer has been playing Tessa since April 2022 on the West End (where she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress) and has now carried the role to Broadway for an 12-week run that began this April. One year in, she says the role has made a deep impact on her life.

“I realized that I was quite fearful last year of a lot of things, especially in my ability to do this,” Comer said. “And I think that actually, through this experience, I’ve been able to transform that into a sense of trust, which is a really nice feeling.”

Once she gets through the final eight weeks of the run, the Free Guy star says she’s open to doing more theater, but she notes that she’s “intrigued to see” what kind of role could bring her back, after performing in such a challenging, but “exhilarating” play.

Comer, who is Tony nominated for her portrayal, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about why she decided to take on the role, how she prepared for it and how its changed throughout the year.

What did you think when you were first approached about doing this role?

I thought that this was mighty in every sense of the word. I wasn’t actually sure if I needed to audition or not. So I was also thinking that it may have been sent to many actresses and whoever was going to do it would be the luckiest person alive. But I also just didn’t know how I would get to a point of executing it. I knew it was going to be a challenge and it was going to change me as a person. I was looking at like 96 pages of dialogue and thinking “How on earth would you be on stage alone and do this?” so I was really overwhelmed, but just blown away by the script and the journey that I would go on in order to get to a place of performing that eight shows a week. I was deeply moved by it. It felt very important.


Did you end up having to audition for it?

No, it was actually given to me. I asked my agent “When do I have to audition?” And she said that James Bierman, the producer, and Suzie Miller, the writer, had said if it was something I connected with, Suzie would love to chat with me. And I remember it was the first lockdown and I was in Liverpool with my family and Suzie was in Australia and we jumped on a call and we were on the phone for like two hours. I just knew then that there was no question. And I also knew that if I saw another actress do this, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I think that’s always a good indicator as to whether to do something or not.

How did you get into the character of Tessa?

There was so much about her that I related to because of where she’s from, her family. Just being from Liverpool and the characteristics of the people who are from there, people I know, people who are in my own life. I think a big thing that I had to kind of embrace was her intellect and sense of self and power that she held and self-confidence. That felt…not foreign to me, but I almost had to embrace those parts of myself in order to find her. And how she commanded the space and the confidence that she carries in her execution. I think I definitely do have that within myself, and I’ve come to appreciate that a lot more through her, which is funny. I think that you can, more often than not, learn from your characters. It’s a transaction. It’s like, you teach them something and they always leave you with some sort of insight into your own life.


In the play, you’re not only speaking as Tessa, but you’re also acting out all the lines of dialogue around her. How did you prepare for and get to the place of being ready to perform that eight shows a week?

We started rehearsals in March [2022] and I had started learning the dialogue the November before, because I really wanted to be off book by the time I got into the rehearsal room. And then Justin, our director, got me up on my feet on the first day. It was kind of all systems go, and I hadn’t been in the rehearsal room a lot. I’d only been in a rehearsal room once before when I was really young, and it was all very new to me, and I was incredibly intimidated and nervous. But it was just about being in the rehearsal room and getting up on our feet and working through it and playing around with things.

How does it feel now, performing this role in front of audiences every night?

Exhilarating. It feeds my soul in such a big way. I think it is absolutely difficult and challenging, but it really invigorates me. I feel like I’m having a conversation with 800-plus people every night and getting to see how it moves them. And I think in theater, the energy is very kinetic, and it’s so addictive. I just feel so, so lucky that I’m able to be part of this huge puzzle of people who brought this together. It’s rare that you’re blessed with a piece of material and a role that challenges you in this way. So I’m just trying to soak up every second of it all.

You’ve now been with the play through its West End run and now on Broadway. Has the role changed at all or evolved during that process?


Absolutely. I think now it’s just kind of sunk into me. The material, Tessa. I feel like I’m finding new things. I also feel very much changed by this experience. And I think we can change so much within a year. So I feel like through my own evolution, Tess is also evolving just through different things every night that I find and think, “Oh God, I’ve never done that before” or “That felt good, and why didn’t I think of that last year?” That’s what I was actually really excited about being in the rehearsal room [this time]. We got a few weeks before we went into tech when we came to New York and just had that constant kind of discovery of going “Oh, wow, you know, why didn’t we think of this last year?” and it’s just because you’re having to think about things less.

Can you talk more about how the experience has changed you? 

I think a lot of it is deeply personal, that I don’t necessarily feel the need to speak about, but I feel like a woman. I feel like I’ve stepped into my womanhood. I feel like I have so much more trust within myself and who I am. I realized that I was quite fearful last year of a lot of things, especially in my ability to do this. And I think that actually, through this experience, I’ve been able to transform that into a sense of trust, which is a really nice feeling. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments, but I just feel like I have a clearer sense of who I am.

With such a heavy subject matter, are you able to leave the role at the theater or do you carry it with you?


I do a little cool down on stage afterwards and kind of consciously let go of it. Just the practical movement of stretching your body and trying to let go of anything that you’re holding on to is really helpful. My mornings are a bit slow. Sometimes I wake up and I feel like I was kind of hit by a train. It’s generally okay. You just have to make sure that you take care of yourself because I think it’s in those moments when you slip up with those things that you can feel it a little bit more. But anything I can kind of help myself, a voice cool down, body cool down. I come home, and I’m sticking my head in the fridge for about an hour-and-a-half [laughs]. That sounds weird. I mean, just more that I snack nonstop.

That makes sense. You’re on stage for so long, and you’re also running around and jumping on tables. 

Yeah, you’ve got to refuel.

Posted by admin on May 12, 2023


In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast features in-depth conversations with today’s most noteworthy actors and creators. Join host and senior editor Vinnie Mancuso for this guide to living the creative life from those who are doing it every day. 

Earlier this month, Jodie Comer scored a Tony nomination for her work in Suzie Miller’s one-woman play “Prima Facie.” In the show, which debuted on the West End last year, the actor plays Tessa, a barrister whose sense of self is upended by a sexual assault. It’s an astonishing 100-minute performance in which Comer—best known for her Emmy-winning turn on BBC America’s “Killing Eve” and her role in Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel”—doesn’t leave the stage once. Given the skill with which she takes audiences on that journey night after night, it’s easy to forget that this is her Broadway debut.

“When I took on this role, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, truth be told. And I think that was a huge draw,” Comer tells us. “I was completely in awe. I thought, How will I ever execute this? I was really interested in that journey of: How do I get from where I am now, having no idea how I’m going to do it and struggling to imagine it, to performing this eight nights a week?”

On this episode of In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast, Comer dives deep into how her performance took shape and the realities of carrying a Broadway show on your back eight shows a week.

Comer’s leap into theater involved accepting that no two performances are the same. 

“The first preview we had was euphoric. I really only remember the last 10 minutes of it; it was like someone was literally carrying me around the stage. And then the second night, I remember just thinking the whole way through, Just get to the end; just get to the end. Because I felt like I was pushing it, you know? It was so hard. It’s about learning that every show is so different. It will be what it will be. It’s kind of throwing it over your shoulder and letting it go, then getting the next opportunity the next evening or the next afternoon. I’ve really enjoyed embracing that. I think there’s something really healthy about having to embrace that mentality.”

She has also embraced rolling with the kind of mistakes that only happen in live theater. 

“We had a night a couple of weeks ago where it actually just became hilarious. The jacket fell off one of the chairs. And I was like, When am I going to get that? When am I going to pick that up? So I picked it up and put it on the wrong chair. It would have been the chair she uses as the bathroom when the assault happens, so that wouldn’t have been great. So then I was figuring out, OK, how do I get the jacket off? Then I picked up the wrong folder, and the folder wouldn’t go back in the wall. I forgot to take my coat off. This was all one night. I came offstage, and we were all like, ‘What the hell?’

But there was something wonderful about that. It really enabled me to go, Right, this is my space. It’s not the end of the world. I’m in control of this. Once you have those kind of moments, you realize, Oh, I have permission to command this space.”

More important to Comer than awards recognition is the impact “Prima Facie” is having on the audience. 

“We get so many people reaching out and writing letters. There was one lady who had seen the play in London and said she was moved; she was crying in the audience, and the play had enabled her to have conversations with their family about her own sexual assault. She then came to the show on Broadway and wrote to us saying how her life over the past year had drastically changed. And then she was in the audience in [the show’s] final moment, in a very different point, surrounded by other women who were having the experience that she had the year before. I thought, There’s something so poignant about that—how it is helping people and what that experience is for people when they’re sat watching surrounded by everyone else. It’s really powerful.”

Comer’s goal with every project she takes on is to stay true to herself.   

“As long as I go into something for my own reasons, with integrity and a clear view of what it is I am getting from it and what it is that I wanted to do, I feel like it is much easier to then accept when things don’t necessarily resonate with an audience or isn’t critically acclaimed or people don’t think it’s good. It’s much easier to separate myself from that when I know that I did the job because I believed in it, I love the character, and I was proud of the work that I did.

If I’d taken ‘The Last Duel’ because it was guaranteed to change my life financially and I’d never have to think about anything ever again, and then it flopped? Then I have to live with the fact that I haven’t been true to myself.

With ‘The Last Duel,’ I was so proud of it, and so honored to get to work with Ridley. I’d always wanted to do a period film. When I met my agent in London for the first time, I remember [her] sitting there going, ‘What is it you want to do?’ I essentially was just like, ‘I want to be Keira Knightley.’ I think that is what I literally said. So that was a huge moment for me, personally. So of course, to be a part of something like ‘Prima Facie,’ which is resonating in this way and has been nominated and won awards, is amazing. But I think if you just stay true to yourself, it’s easier to let that kind of thing slide over you.”

Posted by admin on May 05, 2023

Jodie attended the  76th Annual Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Event held in New York yesterday! Photos of her attending the event have been added. Enjoy!

Posted by admin on May 05, 2023

New York Times-The actress hopes that the production will continue to generate discussions about sexual violence, and noted the amazing reaction.

That Jodie Comer should be nominated for her role in Prima Facie, which has already earned her Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Theater Awards, should not come as a surprise to anyone. Except, apparently, Comer herself.

“I’m in shock ,” she said from a taxi on Tuesday morning.

In Prima Facie, which also received nominations for Best Stage Design, Best Lighting and Best Sound, Comer plays Tessa, an ambitious young lawyer whose world is turned upside down after she is raped by a colleague. With pity, sensuality, and genuine emotion, Comer reenacts this attack and its aftermath 8 times a week, standing on stage in the rain (usually, though not always, warmed up by the backstage crew) while Tessa tries to take a fresh look at her life and existing laws.

Comer hopes the play will continue to spark discussions about sexual violence and that her nomination will benefit the many women she is trying to impersonate. Below are edited excerpts from our conversation.

What do you feel?

We’ve come a long way with this piece – I never thought we’d get to this point. So it’s an incredible feeling. The overall response has been amazing and I am very, very grateful that the work of so many team members has been appreciated. I can’t emphasize enough just how much team effort was put into this production.

That evening, when I was watching the performance, I heard some of the audience crying at the very end. Does the local public react differently than the London public?

The only difference, in my opinion, is the mood. But given how global the topic itself is, the reaction was very, very British. Many people have sent us backstage letters telling us about their experience of watching the play and how it affected them. We were also contacted by people who managed to see the play both in London and on Broadway to share how their lives had changed over the past year. Therefore, there is a feeling that we can have the same conversation here.

Your nomination is clear proof of the production’s stunning debut on Broadway. But given what the play is about, do you think the nomination means a lot more?

I hope so. There are so many people in this world that I am grateful for their existence and that I represent. This nomination should speak not only about me.

What’s the fun in playing Tessa despite what happened to her?

In the whole production, I love the journey that Tessa is going on. The evolution of this woman, even in a truly difficult period, her sense of self, strength and resilience – this is what I am delighted with. She emerges from the current situation definitely changed, but definitely not defeated. Tessa is still hopeful. We get a lot of messages in the spirit of “I felt broken, but at the same time inspired.”

Posted by admin on May 03, 2023

Jodie has been nominated for Best actress in the following category at the 2023 Tony Awards: 2023 / BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY
, huge congrats to Jodie!



Posted by admin on May 03, 2023

The actress said she hopes that the play continues to generate discussions around sexual assault and said the response so far has been “beautiful.”

That Jodie Comer should have received a nomination for her work in the solo show “Prima Facie,” a role that already won her Olivier and Evening Standard Theater awards, should have come as a surprise to no one. Except apparently Comer.

“I’m in shock,” she said from the back of a taxi late Tuesday morning.

In “Prima Facie,” which also earned nominations in three design categories, Comer plays Tessa, an ambitious young barrister who finds herself transformed after a colleague rapes her. With compassion, bold physicality and raw, febrile emotion, Comer enacts that assault and its aftermath eight times a week, standing in the stage rain (which the backstage crew has usually, though not always, warmed up) as Tessa struggles to gain a new perspective on her life and the law.

Comer said she hopes that the play continues to generate discussions around sexual assault and hopes that her nomination is in service of the many women she endeavors to represent. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How do you feel?

We’ve been on such a journey with this play. I never dreamed that this would be a point that we would be at. So it just feels incredible. The response has been beautiful, and I just feel very, very grateful that so many on the team have been recognized as well. I can’t stress enough how much of a team effort this piece truly is.

On the night I saw the play, as it ended, I could hear several women weeping. Has the response here been any different than it was in London?

The only difference, I would say, has been to the humor. People find humor in different moments. But given the subject matter, which is so universal, the response has been very, very similar to the U.K. We’ve had a lot of people sending letters to us backstage, explaining their experiences watching the play and how it affected them. And we’ve had people reach out who came to see the play in London, and have also come to Broadway, expressing and confiding how their lives have changed within the past year. It feels like we can have the same conversation here.

Posted by admin on May 02, 2023

Jodie made her Met Gala debut this year wearing Burberry, I have added photos of her attending the Event to our gallery, enjoy!

Posted by admin on April 28, 2023

The star of ‘Killing Eve’ and Broadway’s acclaimed ‘Prima Facie’ talks about the challenges and epiphanies of a theater debut.

Washington Post — It feels right that Jodie Comer became famous playing an assassin. Because her acting instincts are killer.

The charisma, the composure, the technique all came from somewhere. But where? After all, as Comer had been reminded time and again by casting people and directors in (mostly unsuccessful) auditions early in her career: You aren’t professionally trained. The message had seeped so deeply into her consciousness that when she was offered “Prima Facie” — a monodrama performed to huzzahs in London last year, and now to hearty approval on Broadway — she was surprised that she hadn’t been required to read for the part. Especially as it would be her first stage performance.

But by that time she was also Emmy winner Jodie Comer, earner of die-hard fans for “Killing Eve,” the 2018 BBC series that made her a bona fide sensation. Her portrayal of Villanelle, a coolheaded Russian psychopath, not only made her bankable, it also delivered an accent that was convincing enough to bamboozle Suzie Miller, “Prima Facie’s” author.

“When we came up with Jodie, Suzie was like, ‘We can’t employ her. She’s Russian,’” recalled the play’s director, Justin Martin. “And I was like, ‘She’s not Russian. She’s English!’”

It was through this singular set of circumstances that Comer — sans the validating credentials from RADA or Lamda or Central School of Drama — came to make her stage debut in Miller’s one-person play about Tessa, an overachieving London barrister. Tessa proudly trumpets the cases she’s won for her clients, men accused of sexual assault. Then “Prima Facie” makes its own sordid case clear when the justice tables turn on her.

The role is a daunting launchpad for a theater neophyte, an intense and grueling 100-minute test of concentration and stamina. After the play was announced, Martin took Comer to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End so she could stand on the empty stage and get a feel for the 796-seat house. The experience probably should have freaked her out a bit. It didn’t.

“I mean, I was awestruck, but I wasn’t intimidated,” Comer said. “Yeah, I wasn’t. I think Justin, what he was expecting maybe was for me to get to that moment and go, ‘Oh, God!’”

Where she did go was straight to work, but not without taking up Martin and producer James Bierman on their offers for help.

Actors who’ve achieved renown can grow leery of taking on a new play. I spoke recently with a director who ticked off the names of actors known for intelligence and success crossing over into movies — none of whom were eager to risk being in a new play. A work in its freshman viewing places a sizable burden on a star. There’s no reliable road map, and so with the uncharted choices the production makes, performers may worry they will be held responsible for road bumps.

Comer, who had some film and TV experience before “Killing Eve,” didn’t count on an actor’s life growing up, though her talents were noticed. “It seems pretty clear I was a very confident child, you know, very silly,” she said. “Always putting on like shows or impressions.” In school, she said, the reports were, “I was very chatty. It was always, you know, ‘Chats too much. Social, yeah, needs to focus a little bit more, less talking.’”

When she was about 12, she performed a monologue in school, and that led to a role in a radio play. Her parents — a physiotherapist father and a mother who worked at a transport company in Liverpool — never stood in her way. But the way wasn’t paved for her. She has pointed out in award acceptance speeches that she didn’t have the advantage of conservatory training, and as Martin put it, “There’s a mania for that” in the theater world.

“Prima Facie,” too, had some prior success, having been performed in Miller’s native Australia before London, although neither the play nor the playwright were well known outside her home turf. A human rights lawyer by training, with 15 years in criminal law, Miller said that she found herself perplexed when she studied sexual assault in law school.

“I remember thinking when it came to sexual assault, there was something amiss,” she said in an interview in the lower lobby of the Golden Theatre on West 45th Street, where “Prima Facie” had its official opening last week. “And I thought: The defense is always, ‘There was consent. I believe there was consent.’ Right. So what — they just have to believe it’s there? And you can do anything you like?”

Miller has written several plays, but “Prima Facie,” which premiered in Sydney in 2019, has struck a particularly resonant chord. “It’s just been translated into nearly 30 languages,” she recounted. “It’s been done in China. It’s being done in Japan. It’s astonishing. Turkey! A place where they said, ‘We really have to have this on.’

“And the great thing for me that’s happened: thousands and thousands of messages from women telling me their story, which you know, like sometimes it’s hard to read them. I just think, ‘How do you go out in the world and think the world is a safe place?’”

Tessa’s background was changed for “Prima Facie” in London, where the character’s origins became Liverpool — the same as Comer’s. “She was also present in the rehearsal process,” Comer said of Miller. “I don’t know if that is necessarily usual, but she made sure she was there I think because everything was very new to me, and she wanted me to feel like I was supported.”

Comer and her director got the production up on its feet simply by getting up on their own.

“What we didn’t do is stand around and talk about a lot. We just got up and we did it,” said Martin, describing Comer as intuitively gifted and eager to learn. “She’s very honest about what she knows and doesn’t know. She will stand up for things that she thinks are important. But she’s always collaborative.”

Comer — who flew back to London earlier this month to receive the Olivier Award, the West End’s equivalent of a Tony, for her performance as Tessa — said she approached the experience with a student’s thirst for knowledge. “I knew when I was going into this, I was like, ‘I am going to grow so much,’” she said. “I don’t know how, but I know that this is going to stretch me in a way that I’ve never been challenged before.”

So unaccustomed was she to the ways of the stage that Martin had to walk her through the ritual of acknowledging the audience’s applause.

“I said, ‘Now we are going to do the bows,’ and she came up to me and she said, ‘I didn’t know — How do we do that?’” Martin recalled. “I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ And I just took her hand and we stood up there and we bowed together.”

Watching Comer in “Killing Eve” and, in a very different vein, her performance in the 2021 BBC film “Help” about caregivers in Liverpool, you’re jarred by the idea of the actress needing instruction on how to perform a curtain call. Especially as she confesses to having been an extrovert all her life.

Miller’s play so called out to her that she carved out time for “Prima Facie,” even though she had to say no to big film projects such as Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon.” “It was always very clear that the play was what was right for me,” she said. “And I think there were a few people who thought I was insane.”

She went with her gut, though, and perhaps the validation is the audience’s nightly response. “From a soul perspective and what I actually believe in, it was clear,” she said of the decision to pivot to the stage — and to Tessa. “It’s like, no, I know this, I feel it in my body.”

Comer sometimes feels the impact on the street, too — the ubiquity of Tessa’s tragedy.

“This woman walked past me,” she recalled, “and then she came back around the corner. And she said, ‘I’ve seen the play, and you know, I really enjoyed it, it was incredible. Thank you so much.’ And there was something in the way that she looked at me. I just held her gaze. And there was like an acknowledgment. You know, like she wasn’t saying anything, but she was saying everything.”

“I had an amazing vocal coach, and I did a couple of movement classes just to become more aware of my body, because I realized, having done a lot of television and film so close up, you’re not always having to be aware of how your body is emoting or projecting energy,” Comer said. “And I suddenly realized, ‘Oh, hang on a minute, like I have to use from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes!’”

Comer, 30, and I spoke recently in a chic dining spot in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. She was refreshingly without pretense: I showed up 15 minutes early for the interview. So did she. It was not a fake-chummy encounter, but rather a straightforward chat about the task at hand. When the check came, I offered to pay. She said, “Let’s split it.” So we did.

Posted by admin on April 24, 2023

Jodie attended the “Prima Facie” Broadway Opening Night photos of her at the Event have been added to our gallery. Enjoy!

Posted by admin on April 10, 2023

The actress often plays women defined by their mastery. In “Prima Facie,” she takes on her toughest role yet: a lawyer who defends men accused of sexual assault.
When the actress Jodie Comer first read the description of Villanelle—the assassin and antihero of the spy series “Killing Eve”—she responded with dismay: “How naked is she going to be?” She imagined catsuits and stiletto heels. Instead, she found herself in brocade Dries Van Noten suits and custom-dyed Chloé—a dandy psychopath, a huntress, who never sacrifices style for efficiency when dispatching her victims. She strangles one with a necktie, kills another with poisoned perfume, and sparks a very understandable erotic fixation in the M.I.6 agent (Sandra Oh) on her heels. Even as the script sagged in later seasons, Comer’s command remained absolute. She garnered a small shelf of awards and handled success with a total lack of pretense. “Our show doesn’t have a huge message to the world,” she said with cheerful bluntness. “That’s probably why people enjoy it so much.”

Comer has followed “Killing Eve” with “Prima Facie,” a one-woman show that is all message—and which features her most revealing role to date. Comer plays Tessa, a scrappy barrister who excels at defending clients accused of sexual assault, and who finds her faith in the law unravelling after being raped by a colleague. The script was written by Suzie Miller, an Australian playwright and former barrister, who felt that the system was rigged against victims of sexual violence. For almost two hours, Comer devours the stage, scarcely seeming to breathe. She brings to life every member of the court, as well as the innate kitsch of a trial and its rituals. She leaps on tables, zips through costume changes in front of us, and hauls around furniture to create her own makeshift sets: a pub, a police station, a room of horror. Following a sold-out, award-winning run in London, the play opens on Broadway this month.

On a recent Saturday, I met Comer at the Whitney Museum. Rain all morning. Outside, I watched a pigeon shake itself out like a dog. Comer, who had just celebrated her thirtieth birthday, arrived wearing a floor-skimming, belted black coat and trainers, hair tucked under a slouchy hat, a hotel umbrella under her arm. She was bluff, friendly, determined to enjoy the professional obligation. “Eight floors?” she said, looking at the museum map. “Impressive.” Waiting for the elevator, she let her hip bump gently into mine.

Where do we begin? I asked. What does she like to look at?

“People,” she said. “Women or their bodies.”

For two hours, Comer and I admired the women of the Whitney. Gaston Lachaise’s towering bronze nude. A portrait of the museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, reclining on a sofa in a blue blazer and sea-green trousers. Look, Comer said, calling me back to the nude. “Her foot.” The huge body was perched on improbably small, arched feet—all that power, banked in the rounded hips and thighs, suddenly so precarious. Later, again: look. “That color.” An Edward Hopper painting of a woman in a red dress and red hat. She was lovely, wary, curiously proportioned, her breasts painfully lopsided. “Well,” Comer said, “Y’know, sometimes that happens.” Then she showed me what I had missed: “Her arm is squashing that one.”

Comer is an avid, beady noticer, with a preternatural ability to block out the fact that she herself is being noticed, almost constantly. Fans approached in various states of disarray. One was so overcome that he could sustain only moist eye contact with me, thanking me effusively for my work. (I was gracious.) Comer handled tears and requests for photographs with a kindly reserve, effortlessly picking up the thread of our conversation. She was still thinking about an Alice Neel retrospective that she had seen, in London, that felt like a vast family album. Neel called herself the collector of souls. Comer loved her way of painting hands as elongated and distinct—so like her own—and as “always doing something.” And the unfinished edges! “You could always see where she started,” Comer said. Those unpainted corners, she went on, seemed to tell us, “This is how I got here.”

See that foot, that blue, those busy hands. These are, perhaps, Comer’s own traces, her own admissions of how she gets there. More than once she told me that she is untrained—no acting school, no Stanislavski technique. Since she began working, as a teen-ager, she has found her way instinctively to her characters, through their bodies and through her own. She tries to locate their source, their “source energy.” For cerebral Villanelle, the source was in the head, the brow. For preening, strutting Tessa, it’s all in the chest. Comer showed me, squaring her shoulders and raising her chin. I watched Tessa arrive.

That kind of arrogance can be delicious in a woman, Comer said, over tea in the museum café. (“That’s a good tea bag,” she added. Tea in America has been an abiding disappointment.) If Neel regarded herself as a collector of souls, Comer looks at the gallery of women she’s played—Villanelle, Tessa, Marguerite in Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel”—as visitations, all come to teach her something. With Tessa, however, there is something cuttingly personal. “I know where she’s from,” Comer said. “What she’s had to do to get where she is.”

In the rehearsal room of “Prima Facie” hangs another wall of images, mostly of women and girls. They are the photographs Comer has collected to conjure Tessa. In one, a woman draws a mustache on herself—Tessa going to court, Comer explained, “thinking of what she has to become.” A blank-eyed woman in an embrace—Tessa after the assault. There are photographs of a man’s wrist encircled by a heavy watch, photographs of Liverpool in the nineteen-nineties, street kids mugging for the camera. Tessa has scrabbled out of a loving, brawling world, catapulting herself to Cambridge to become a star barrister. Her mother, she tells us, cleans offices like the one she works in. Her vigilance—her awareness of being scrutinized, assessed, dismissed—has become a kind of superpower, an acute understanding of judgment and persuasion. She is a connoisseur of contempt, a human barometer of doubt—not that she seems to possess any herself. The law is blood sport for her, but behind it is righteous pride. “Prosecutors, you work with the police. You say you are fighting for justice. You are fighting for jail time,” she says. “It’s our job to find holes in the case, to protect society.”

At the center of the wall is a photograph of Comer as a girl—a large cast on her leg, grinning as she sails down a slide. (“I peaked,” she said, wryly.) To think about Tessa at her freest, Comer gave her the gift of her own childhood. The actress’s “source energy” seems to arise from this place—the Liverpool suburb of Childwall, where her mother is a transport worker and her father is a physical therapist for the Everton Football Club. The parish priest still sends letters to Comer’s family, reflecting on each of her roles. (On Villanelle, he’s spoken “about the depths he feels I would have to go to in order [to] understand why a person would be like this,” Comer said.) She spent much of the pandemic back home, playing badminton with her brother over the washing line. “We were like kids again, having to knock at the neighbor’s door, like, ‘Can you throw the ball back over?’ ”

One of Comer’s first proper roles came at twelve, for a monologue at a school talent show. She played a child who had lost her father in the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy: a stampede, during a Liverpool football match, that killed more than ninety people. When her name was called, Comer found herself already in tears; the emotion was bewilderingly easy to access. She had something powerful inside her, her drama teacher said, and she needed to learn to harness it. (In “Killing Eve,” Villanelle’s former handler gives her a strikingly similar speech.) Bit parts followed, in radio plays and “Law & Order: UK.” Comer worked the weekend-morning shifts at Tesco, “hungover 99.9 per cent of the time.” In lieu of formal training, she cribbed Villanelle’s facial expressions from her mother, and developed a facility with accents by imitating advertisements with her father. She remembers his face, awed and proud, the first time he saw her perform. “I’m always chasing” that face “in some way,” she said.

Comer invokes her family with an insistence that begins to make sense when one realizes how often her background was seen as a liability. Although she worked steadily, there were fallow periods. Casting directors were incredulous at her Northern accent. Theatre was impossible to break into; she was not educated enough, she was told, not trained. When she started out, she wanted to be Keira Knightley, to wallow in big frocks and yearning. Instead, she has become known for characters marked by their mastery—a mastery acquired in private, at cost, and intended as a kind of armor. Onstage, when Tessa speaks, in her strong Scouse accent, of being patronized, of desperately counting on her vigilance and nice manners, on her brilliance and ambition to prize open the doors so intent on keeping her out, Comer’s fury is electrifying.


The London dress run of “Prima Facie” was plagued with problems. At one point, when Tessa changes clothes onstage, Comer got her head stuck in a shirt. But the previews indicated something special at work. In the last fifteen minutes of the play, Tessa speaks directly to the audience. A woman in the front began to cry, making deep guttural noises. “It was like little lights going off all over the theatre,” Comer recalled. “It was spreading. It was as if people in the audience were giving each other unspoken permission to feel.”

Of course, it is Tessa who grants the permission. Standing at the front of the stage, she points into the audience: “I see all the women who came before me, all the women who will come after.” Her bluster is gone. She is no longer the star defense lawyer but the victim, humiliated by taking the stand and withstanding the very interrogation techniques that she once deployed with pride: the suggestion of inconsistencies in memory, of ulterior motives influencing the rape accusation. “In all of my professional life, I have participated in a system that has done this to women, and now I know it is not right,” she says. “If the women’s experience of rape is not as the court would like it to be, then we conclude she is prone to exaggeration.”

The play wavers at the end, unsure where to send the shattered Tessa. Lines curdle into cliché: “I am broken, too, but I’m still here, and I will not be silenced”; “Somewhere, somehow, something has to change.” But Comer always seems to shine when scripts struggle—screenwriters from Phoebe Waller-Bridge to Matt Damon praise how she sees the character beyond the page. Here, she does something interesting. She does not fight the clichés but leans into them, lets us feel Tessa reach for them, choose them—what else can she say? As she speaks, her hands hang at her sides, grasping at air. She seems shorn of language, of certainty, suddenly doubting everything but herself.

Comer began hearing from women almost immediately: women who had recognized something in their past, who were on the verge of leaving the law but now saw a reason to persist. The dynamic is woven into the action of the play—the way the house lights come on at the end, enabling the audience to see one another, to see themselves, and to see Tessa, who draws near and says, “There was a time, not so long ago, when courts like this did not ‘see’ nonconsensual sex in marriage as rape, did not ‘see’ that battered women fight back in a manner distinct from the way men fight.” How, she asks, can we unsee what we now know?

Recently, watching a recording of the play, I found those lines nagging at me. I called Comer. Broadway rehearsals had begun, and her voice was different—slower, assured. She was struck by how rare it is for an actor to return to familiar material, to infuse it with what they now know. I asked her what Tessa had allowed her to see. I recalled how, when she concentrates, she closes her eyes and taps between her brows. She seemed to be doing that now. She responded, “I have nothing to prove.”