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Killing Eve: this character was originally meant to be portrayed by a man

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Hollie Richardson
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Villanelle Killing EVe

If Killing Eve bosses hadn’t made this change, the Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh show would have looked VERY different…

Killing Eve returns in the UK on 8 June, it has been confirmed. While we impatiently count down the days, some surprising news about one of our favourite characters has been revealed…

Casting Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens in Killing Eve was yet another genius move by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Who else could play Eve Polastri’s (Sandra Oh) cool, erudite and rebellious boss so perfectly? While picking up her Bafta for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year, Shaw described the role as being “probably the greatest pleasure of my life”. 

But, according to one of the show’s producers, there was a point when Carolyn might have been played by a man. Speaking at the press screening of Killing Eve series two, Sally Gentle revealed that the MI6 agent was a male character in Luke Jenning’s Villanelle novels – which the series is based on – but they quickly realised they wanted Shaw to play the role instead of a man.

Watch the Killing Eve series two trailer

“In the books, originally Eve’s boss was a man. But we wanted Fiona.” Gentle explained.

Discussing the importance of making the story a feminist retelling from the start, she said: “We read Luke’s books and really liked them and enjoyed this female assassin and the fact there were two women. But actually, to give that a female spin and to tell that story by a woman is, we felt, a far more interesting way into it and something that we hadn’t really seen before.

“You’ve seen female assassins actually behaving in quite a sort of two dimensional way. Having a woman write it, giving all those layers to all those women in all the roles actually is what excited us.”

Earlier this week, Jodie Comer - who plays Villanelle - also opened up about how the show has given a feminist spin to the tired “sexy” female assassin trope. She nearly turned down the part because she assumed it would involve having to wear skimpy costumes – until she realised Waller-Bridge was involved.

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“I was like, ‘Oh, fuck no’ because I always think of someone in a leather catsuit and six-inch heels scaling walls,” she told GQ magazine. “Also, ‘How naked is she going to be?’”

Pointing out the need for more women writers to continue writing such incredible female characters, Comer added: “I should have known better, knowing Phoebe was the writer.”

The second series also boasts the addition of another female talent, with Waller-Bridge handing over writing duties to Emerald Fennell.

Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens in Killing Eve
Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens in Killing Eve

Describing how Fennell’s writing differs from Waller-Bridge’s and what fans can expect, Comer said: “Phoebe and Emerald are so similar but they’re genius writers within their own right and I really feel that Emerald captured the heart of the show and the characters.

“What was lovely about Emerald and Phoebe is that we had this opportunity before each block to get together and discuss our characters - what’s happening in scenes, is there anything that doesn’t quite seem right, or any lines that don’t feel right.”

“Phoebe loves a sausage gag,” added Gentle. “So I think that Emerald probably deliberately stayed away from sausage gags… Emerald’s just got a brilliant deadpan, dark sense of humor and the more deadpan plays out the sort of funnier it gets.”

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Images: BBC     

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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