Lily Allen tried out life as a journalist and gave Killing Eve star Jodie Comer a call to talk murderers, the weird side of fame and what happens when you speak to your heroes.
When Stylist interviewed Jodie Comer last year, she told us of all the celebrities proclaiming their love for Villanelle, her character in Killing Eve, the one she was most excited about was Lily Allen.
Fast forward six months to Stylist’s first meeting with the singer, and she expressed a similar admiration for Comer, who recently won a Bafta for Best TV Actress. So we decided to put the two together one Saturday night.
The resulting conversation is here for you to enjoy…
Lily: Hi, is that Jodie? How are you going?
Jodie: Hi Lily. I’m good, I’m good.
L: I’ve got no idea what I’m doing. I’ve got weird bits of phone in my hand and a voice recording app in the other and I’m trying to put my kids [Ethel and Marnie] to bed. I’m a very professional journalist here.
J: Oh no. Have you managed to get them to sleep?
L: No, they’re up a bit late. [To her daughter, “Aren’t you monkey? Darling, will you put your pyjamas on? I’ll be back in a minute, all right? I love you.”]
J: How old are they Lily?
L: They are six and seven. They are incredibly cute but they are up way past their bedtime. Are you in LA then?
J: Yeah, I’ve got a couple of days left of press for the second season of Killing Eve. It’s been amazing but I’ve been talking about myself since January so I’m ready to punch myself in the face.
L: So I was first introduced to you in Doctor Foster [Comer played the mistress, Kate Parks] and thought you were brilliant in that. Then I was quite naughty and downloaded Killing Eve illegally so I saw it way before anyone else [in the UK] had and I was like, ‘Come on, hurry up!’ How did it come about?
J: I’d met Phoebe [Waller-Bridge, writer of Killing Eve and Fleabag] drunkenly in a hotel room at the Baftas but I didn’t know anything about the show. Then, a couple of months later, an email about it came through and I was like, ‘Oh no! What if I said something stupid?’ Everyone was so drunk. I got the first script and thought it was going to be predictable but I was totally proven wrong. Which I should have known because I loved Fleabag and was a big fan of Phoebe’s.
L: Phoebe’s so talented, isn’t she? She’s such a force.
J: I know. I remember watching series two of Fleabag and it completely blew series one out of the water. How is that even possible? That moment when Fleabag looks to the camera and the priest asks her where she went? I was like, what is this? She’s so talented, it’s ridiculous.
L: So, Killing Eve, I didn’t know what to expect but that opening scene where Villanelle is in the cafe and you knock over that girl’s ice cream, I was like, hang on, what is going on here? That was really mean, I love this person.
J: Yeah, it’s wow, this person is fearless and acts on impulse and you know she’s awful but there’s something quite admirable about that. In this day and age we’re riddled with fear and this woman doesn’t have that. I think that’s why people have enjoyed watching her.
L: She is an amazing character. She is everything – she’s sexy, she’s a murderer and she’s funny. I connected with her a lot.
J: What’s great is that there’s no black and white, good and evil. You have moments when you agree with Eve [Polastri, MI5 officer] and there are moments where you’re like, ‘Nah Eve, what you doing lady?’ And I found a sprinkle of humanity in Villanelle. Assassins on television usually seem detached and take themselves too seriously but she is a little bit flawed.
L: For sure. I come from the school of thought that all behaviour is learned behaviour and no baby is born evil. But when you look through history at women killers like Rose West you’re never really given a back story of what happened to them and why they ended up that way whereas with blokes, it’s always like oh, they came from a broken home or their mother was really evil to them. Do you get any more of Villanelle’s history in the second series and why she’s ended up that way?
J: I had that conversation with Phoebe and she believes we should never try to explain it. You know that something has happened within Villanelle’s life but she doesn’t feel any self-pity and it’s kind of fun for the audience to have the freedom of imagining what might have gone on. I enjoyed it when she went back to Russia and she was very feral which was a different part of her but I don’t think we should ever say this is exactly what happened and why this person turned out to be the way she is.
L: So who did Phoebe base the character on or was it just made up?
J: It came from the novellas [Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings] but the character in the books is very different to Phoebe’s interpretation. She added this humour and wit. That humour cutting through the drama was all her.
L: Yeah Killing Eve feels like it’s come from nowhere, it’s very refreshing.
J: Phoebe did send me a link to an advert by Spike Jonze for a Kenzo perfume. There was this girl in an emerald silk dress and she’s walking through this lobby when the music kicks in. She starts pulling all these crazy facial expressions and dancing through the building and I remember that being a bit of a reference.
L: OK, the next questions is, “How are you finding fame Jodie?”
J: Oh god. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was going to New York and when I got out of the car at the airport at four in the morning there was a bunch of strange men waiting for me to sign autographs. It really threw me because it was the first time I’d had anything like that.
L: Oh, can I give you a warning about that? So, a lot of those guys are not actually there to get autographs, what they are doing is they are trying to keep you still while somebody on the other side of the room is taking pictures of you without you knowing. Just a little top tip from me.
J: Really? Thank you. People think that, oh you knew what you were signing up for when you got into acting, but things like that are totally different. It is a very weird world that we’re living in now, isn’t it? I mean it does feel like there’s a transitional period with fame and influencers and social media.
J: Technology terrifies me. A dictaphone, and an iPhone up to my face while my daughter is looking at me really baffled. Right, let me get back to my notes. OK so we’ve done fame, now it says to talk about us. Over to you!
J: The 16-year-old in me is flipping out right now. I’m being serious. I was always in charity shops getting vintage clothes but when I passed my driving test I went to some buy some CDs and the first album I got for the car was Alright, Still. I used to drive round with that blaring out my windows, living my best life. Honestly I feel like there are so many songs of yours that are important to different moments within my life. I just fucking loved your music and always listened to every word you sang. There’s so much heart and honesty in there, you know?
L: Aww, thank you.
J: Honestly Lily when you messaged me about this, I couldn’t play it cool. It was like when you text someone you have the hots for and it’s like, ‘What do I say? I don’t want to say the wrong thing’. I was freaking out. I think you’re brilliant.
L: That’s very sweet. And the feeling is mutual.
J: If I’d have had a conversation with my younger self like, “In about 10 years time you’re going to sit down and have a chat with this person about life,” it would have been, ‘Wow!’ You know what I mean? I’m just really conscious of being grateful and enjoying these moments.
L: This is relatively new for me. When I was growing up I had a very fragmented relationship with my dad. The way he spoke about women with his friends was quite derogatory so I tried to avoid being a woman. I didn’t really bond with women and I felt jealous of women. Then, when I had my two girls I was like, ‘OK, I guess you’re going to have to start liking women now, Lily.’ But it’s been a complete blessing. [Calls out: “Ethel, I’ll be five minutes sweetheart OK? Then we’ll go and do bedtime.”]
At the beginning of my career there were only meant to be a few places for women in the industry so you didn’t support each other because they were going to come and take your bread and butter. I feel completely the opposite now.
10-15 years ago watching Fleabag would have irritated me because it would have meant there was this really talented woman out there writing stuff and that would have been a threat, you know? It’s lovely that the world is changing and we can all support each other a bit more. I’m just grateful I’m not the person that I was when I was a grumpy bitch.
So, back to my questions. What other TV shows are you obsessed with?
L: Yeah. So what music are you into Jodie Comer?
J: I listen to anything and everything. I just went to see Maggie Rogers in Brixton.
L: She’s amazing. There’s this girl that you should check out called Arlo Parks.
J: Oh my god is that Cola?
L: Yeah it’s my favourite song at the moment, I love her so much. So, the next section is travel. Do you love or hate LA?
J: Something bad always happens when I’m in LA. I’ve had bed bugs, I had to get all my wisdom teeth removed in the middle of a press tour…
L: I had that, all four at the same time?
J: Yeah, so I feel that in LA there’s a big finger in the sky going, ‘Leave!’
L: I am actually allergic to LA. I can’t be in the parks in Silver Lake because of the pollen count. I get ill as soon as I go there. Everyone asks, “Do you want to come hiking?” So I have to say, “I will not make that hike, I will be dead by the time I get to the top.”
J: I don’t really have any friends in LA. I can imagine it would be a very different experience if you had a group of mates and you could go out but…
L: Jodie, that’s what strip clubs are for!
L: That’s what strip clubs are for. There it’s all, “Lily we love you.” No, I’m joking! [To her daughter: “Darling I will be there in five minutes OK? Do you want a snuggle? Oh, you want pudding? It’s late!”]
J: Pudding? A girl after my own heart!
L: I know. I kind of have to wrap this up because of the kids actually Jodie but what do you miss the most when you’re travelling? Home?
J: Yeah, my family and a good cup of Yorkshire tea.
L: True that. In all seriousness when you are back in London we should have a girls’ night out.
J: I’d love that.
L: Yeah, it would be great. All right darling, well thank you so much for doing this. It’s been lovely talking to you and it’s brilliant to watch you growing into a brilliant actress.
J: Thanks Lily.
L: All right darling, all the best, bye.
J: Take care, bye.
I loved interviewing Jodie Comer, she’s amazing in Killing Eve. I absolutely love that show.
Pictures: Tom Van Schelven/BBC
We’re celebrating Stylist’s 10th birthday in 2019 – and to honour the occasion, we’ve asked 10 of our favourite women to guest edit an issue of the magazine. Lily Allen is our third star guest editor; see everything from her special issue here.