The surprising way Villanelle was inspired by Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s favourite Spice Girl

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Phoebe Waller Bridge

The Killing Eve assassin has her roots in one of the members of the world’s most iconic girl group. 

Leaving aside the psychopathic tendencies and thirst for blood, Killing Eve’s Villanelle (Jodie Comer) shares an awful lot in common with the Spice Girls.

Girl Power? She has plenty. Fantastic wardrobe? You betcha. A strong don’t-give-a-fuck energy? Of course.

It’s no surprise, then, to find out that Killing Eve’s creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was inspired by the Spice Girls when working on the screen characterisation of super-assassin Villanelle. (She was originally created by author Luke Jennings.) According to the BBC, Waller-Bridge was particularly inspired by her favourite Spice Girl, Scary.

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“It was because she was scary, a bit like Villanelle, perhaps I’ve never let her go,” Waller-Bridge said. “She was wild, she was out there, she didn’t care about what people thought about her. She was just really cool. And wore trousers.” 

Killing Eve Phoebe Waller-Bridge at Bafta 2019 with Fiona Shaw and Jodi Comer
Killing Eve Phoebe Waller-Bridge at Bafta 2019 with Fiona Shaw and Jodi Comer

All of those descriptions could just as easily apply to Villanelle as they do to Scary Spice, especially in the second season of Killing Eve, when everyone’s favourite psychopath is outfitted in a series of brightly coloured tailored suits from Dries Van Noten and Chloe.

Waller-Bridge is a millennial woman, so you can’t really blame her for sharing a deep love for everyone’s formative musical act.

Everyone from Emma Stone to Emilia Clarke, HAIM, Adele and Holly Willoughy are self-proclaimed superfans of the Girl Power group.

Stone and HAIM even recreated the Spice Girls’ ‘Stop’ video clip for charity in 2018. In fact, Stone is maybe the celebrity world’s number one Spice Girls fan, something that is frequently brought up in interviews. Scary Spice Mel B recorded a message for her when she was promoting The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in Australia, while Sporty Spice Mel C jumped on FaceTime to speak to Stone in another interview.

Stone, whose birth name is Emily and is originally blonde, even admitted to choosing her stage name because of her love of the Spice Girls.

“I wanted to be called Emma because of Baby Spice and guess what, now I am,” Stone told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. “It’s pretty messed up.”

She clarified that the name change “wasn’t necessarily because of her, but yes, in second grade did I go up to the teacher and ask her on the first day to call me Emma? Yes, I did. Was it because of Emma Lee Bunton of the Spice Girls? Yes, it was.”

With the Spice Girls reunion tour set to kick off in less than a month, we can’t wait to see if Waller-Bridge, Clarke or Stone are seen in the bleachers, singing along at the top of their lungs to ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Spice Up Your Life’. 

Images: BBC, Getty