Going off script with Jodie Comer
Since her breakthrough role in ‘Killing Eve’, the actor and White City House member has captured audiences on screen with her incredible dexterity. In a stripped back interview at The Ned, she talks to us about coming out of character and how she spends her time when she’s not in front of the camera
By Rosalind Jana Photography by Greg Williams
Like many teenage girls, Jodie Comer wanted to be Keira Knightley when she grew up. The big skirts. The distant looks. The Austenian will-they-won’t-they of it all. When she first met her agent, aged 17, Comer said that her ultimate wish was to appear in period dramas. Her career, however, had other ideas.
First garnering attention in Channel 4’s coming-of-age comedy My Mad Fat Diary and tense drama Thirteen, it was in the darkly comedic BBC series Killing Eve that Comer really hit the big time. Playing petulant assassin Villanelle – a stone-cold killer with an obsessive streak and an ability to switch accents as regularly as her impeccable outfits – Comer made an explosive impression. BAFTAs and Emmys followed, and Hollywood came calling. This year, she appears alongside Ryan Reynolds in the video game-themed blockbuster, Free Guy. And most recently she featured in Help, Channel 4’s wrenching COVID-19 care home drama.
In October, she gets to return to her period-drama dreams in the form of Ridley Scott’s bleak medieval epic, The Last Duel: a film based on the true account of the last legally sanctioned duel in 14th-century France. Comer plays Marguerite de Carrouges, a young woman who accuses her husband’s best friend of sexual assault. The story is told from three different perspectives, but it centres, Comer says, on ‘this woman’s fight for justice and survival – she had everything to lose and nothing to gain.’
Comer’s energy shows no sign of flagging on the Soho House’s cover shoot at The Ned in London. For the 28-year-old, though, it’s always a question of momentum. Once one thing is wrapped up, it’s time to seek out another horizon. ‘I often find that when I finish one role, I want to get as far away from her as I possibly can,’ she explains. ‘Especially as more people come to know you or have a perception of you, it’s so important to make sure that [you] get to play around and try new things.’
Her career is defined by a distaste for self-consciousness. Whether she’s playing a care home worker or a queen, she brings to her performances an uncanny ability to step so thoroughly inside the character that you forget who you’re watching. Today, though, she’s just happy being Jodie: a successful actor who still panics about whether she will ever work again; someone whose life has felt like a series of moments falling into place with such precision that she doesn’t like to think about what would have happened if any of them had faltered (she says gamely that she could imagine being a food critic if acting hadn’t worked out).
The Last Duel is out in cinemas in October 2021. To read the full-length interview with Comer, click here.