For Fleabag fans, Andrew Scott’s whiskey-drinking Catholic priest and Fleabag, the eponymous heroine of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s critically-acclaimed millennial comedy, were the only screen couple worth talking and tweeting about this year.
Introduced in the second season of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge wrote in Scott’s character as a foil to her messy heroine, a woman who relies on the crutch of casual sex to plaster over her blistering grief for the death of her mother and best friend. And she gave him some of the best moments, including that sexy confessional booth scene – and that moment where he didn’t just witness her breaking the fourth wall, but acknowledged it, too.
“What was that?” he asked, looking at Fleabag in the season two finale. “You just went somewhere. Where did you just go?”
In that moment, the ‘Hot Priest’ saw Fleabag. He saw us. And so our heroine slowly gave up on the false intimacy she had built up with silent viewers watching from home in favour of real, actual intimacy with someone else .
In writing in these scenes, Waller-Bridge made Scott’s (literally) holier-than-thou character one of the most important, if not the most important (after the eponymous heroine), in the series. She allowed him to step into the spotlight alongside her. So it makes sense that she was invited to present him with the Hugo Boss Standout Performance Award at the 2019 GQ Men of the Year Awards.
It makes even more sense, though, that he dedicated this same award to the “the effervescent” Waller-Bridge.
Insisting that Waller-Bridge is “the reason I’m standing here”, Scott said: “I think like all great artists, she’s incredibly. She wrote this male character with a huge amount of protectiveness and complexity and sensitivity.
“When we first talked about doing Fleabag together we wanted to talk about the extraordinary way love manifests itself in the world,” Scott continued, “and I’m just so thrilled that the world has been able to see Phoebe’s qualities.
“That’s what has touched the world, those qualities of generosity. She’s an incredibly generous person. She’s actually just done a play tonight in the West End so for her to come here and present this to me is amazing.”
In a touching conclusion, Scott finished by saying that he hopes his friendship with Waller-Bridge will continue “for the rest of our lives because I love you so much.”
Watch Andrew Scott’s speech for yourself below:
Waller-Bridge previously described Scott’s character as “the absolute opposite” to Fleabag.
“I thought it was the thing that would surprise and fascinate Fleabag the most,” Waller-Bridge told the New York Times.
“He is the absolute opposite to her in what he believes and how he wants to live, and yet there is a connection. Fleabag chose a life of casual sex, he chose a life of celibacy. Both choices are informed by their personal lives and what they believe they need to survive.”
The writer added that the true light bulb moment came when she overheard a conversation between two young women “in really sexy clothes”, she told New York Times, talking about the Old Testament.
“And something clicked,” Waller-Bridge said. “Modern life and religion felt like the perfect imperfect companions.”
Images: BBC One