Fleabag was a bold production in every way possible, with a lead female character who was completely confident in her body and sexuality. This meant that the show came with plenty of sex scenes and dialogue (who can forget the pondering line “do I have a massive arsehole?” and the hot priest’s infamous “kneel” demand).
Creator and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who played the titular role, has now opened up about how important it was for her to never go nude in these scenes.
“I am not nude at any point in the show,” Waller-Bridge said during the Hollywood Reporter Comedy Actress Roundtable this week. “It was really important to me that I never showed anything, but because she is so candid with her language, it feels like I do.”
This just goes to prove how well-written the character of Fleabag was.
Watch Fleabag’s best bits
Waller-Bridge also went on to discuss the pressure of “going nude” as a young female actor.
“I used to find it really intimidating because you’d see so many actors onstage and screen and they’d all have to do it and so you knew there was a ticking clock — ‘If I want to be an actress, I am going to have to do that,’” she said. “And then the ones that we’d see were these perfect, gorgeous girls and it distracts me as an audience member. I’m thinking about those actors’ bits.”
She then explained a time when she chose to play with nudity, rather than “just be naked on stage”.
“Then this play came along and I had to have my top off for 20 minutes but it was really powerful in the scene,” she continued. “My character taking her top off freaks the other guy in the scene out so much that he starts behaving in this terrified way because she is using it as this power game. And I thought, ‘I know how to play that.’ So, I’m playing my nudity rather than just [being naked].”
After handing over writing duties to Emerald Fennell on the Killing Eve series two script while she focuses on her live runs of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge also talked about taking a step back to focus on the future of her writing.
She added: “When I was starting out doing Crashing and Fleabag and then Killing Eve came along, I was like, ‘I have to do this. I will break myself to do this because I know the impact it could have on my career.’ I think I’m now at the stage for the first time ever where I’m actually going to take a step back and recharge and think about what I want to write about again. Because when you’re writing at that rate for that many years, you forget who you are or what you want to write about.”