The first season of Killing Eve belonged to the titular character played by Sandra Oh. The second season was all about Villanelle played by Jodie Comer. But season three was stolen from both Oh and Comer by Fiona Shaw. Shaw turned in a tour de force performance in season three and awards attention is bound to be on the horizon.
Shaw has had the career actors dream of. Finding success first on the stage being awarded the Laurence Olivier Award (British equivalent of a Tony Award) for Best Actress in a New Play for “Electra,” “As You Like It” and “The Good Person of Sichuan” in 1990 and again for her performance in “Machinal” at the Royal National Theatre. Shaw, received a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for “Medea” in 2003. If you’re not familiar with her by name you’re probably familiar with her character Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter series. But, Shaw’s most high profile work to date is as Carolyn Martens in Killing Eve. Shaw received an Emmy nomination and won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Drama Supporting Actress along with picking up a second nomination for Best Comedy Guest Actress for Fleabag.
We discuss the huge year her character had this season along with her upcoming high-profile films.
AS: What was your reaction when they told you what your reaction to your character’s story ark? They really put her through the wringer.
FS: They didn’t tell me the full arc. In fact, the writing continues all the way to when we start shooting. I knew that Kenny was dead. I was told that some months in advance and that took a bit because Sean (Delaney), he’s wonderful, wonderful actor and I’ve so enjoyed him being my son. So that was a big deal. I actually wasn’t sure how far Carolyn would be allowed to mourn him. So, I just played it step by step. I was shocked at the intimacy of the domestic world. Because, she functions in an office or in charge very rarely with her vulnerabilities on show. So, it was quite a big shift.
We usually see you opposite, Sandra Oh, what was it like finally getting to work with Jodie Comer this season?
It was lovely. Yes. We always chatted in the makeup chairs, sometimes Jodie has a scene in the afternoon. But we loved it. We were forward to the scene and it was quite short, but I’m really hoping we’ll do more in the next. I really wanted to work with Jodie because I think the Villanelle/Carolyn connection hasn’t really been made. In a wonderful way, I feel the Carolyn is not frightened of Villanelle at all. She sorts of knows what she is and everybody else was terrified of it
What was it like really flushing out all Carolyn’s back story with all of these characters, she seems to be connected to everyone.
I very much enjoyed the first season where I just swept in and out and the same in season two, but she seemed to emerge (in season three) as somebody very central to the whole thing. And I think it’s to do with being the third part of the triangle. There’s Oh, a middle-aged woman, who’s sort of virtuous stiff becoming a bit corrupted. And Villanelle has been influenced by Eve., But, in the middle of it is this sort of power broker — Carolyn and people have taken to her so much that they’re writing more and more for her.
You received your first two Emmy nominations last year. What was that like when you got the call?
It was unbelievable! I was sitting at home my agent calls and tells me, you had these nominations. And I said, nomination for what he said, not one, two nominations. And that was a lovely, lovely, lovely treat to be nominated for two. It made me go to Los Angeles and because there’s two ceremonies, the Creative and the big Emmys, I went to Joshua Tree. I’ve got this lovely memory of last autumn of going to the Emmys, but also going down to Joshua Tree and then coming back and getting dressed up again is a real treat. And lovely to be there with Jodie winning. The whole thing was hugely enjoyable.
The Emmys have become more international in the past decades. What was it like for you being nominated (for Best Drama Supporting Actress) with almost all British Actresses?
We seem to be having an invasion into your wonderful country, America is producing such marvelous work and its wonderful writing. And I now Killing Eve’s, British writers, but the production being taken up by BBC America and AMC means that the quality of the production is very high. And America seems to stepped up. I think America now has sort of found this new theatrical style of writing that is really good for the audience and their actors. So it’s been a real boom having this new world where we can play with you guys.
If you are nominated, you have to submit an episode. Do you have any ideas of what you might submit?
No, I haven’t thought of that at all. The arc is quite big. I had to do an enormous amount of work and for the season. I don’t lose sleep over it, even though Carolyn has a lot of witty lines, there’s an enormous amount. And I enjoyed her very much so. No, I’ve no idea what episodes I’m in, I’m not even sure. I couldn’t tell you what scenes are in what episodes.
You have an upcoming film, Ammonite. Can you tell us anything about your character and what we should expect?
Yes, I did. I did a few firms last year. I did the Enola Holmes, which is going to come on Netflix, which was great fun, with Millie Bobby Brown. And I also, did Ammonite. Francis Lee has become very successful for his films. Francis Less is an all-in-one auteur. I think he’s applying this strange twisting history to surmise, using sort of gay road. It was very interesting being in a film, situated in 1860 documenting the period, but somehow imaginatively inventing a story. It’s a new kind of film, a historical drama, but it sort of redefines the history. And it was beautiful to film on the Jurassic coast and with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. It was a very nice, wonderful film.
Anything you want for Carolyn in season four?
I want to see very foreign travel. We all want to get out of our houses. I think Carolyn is sort of launching. Carolyn, has discovered that 25 years of very good behavior inside MI:5 five and the bounds of MI:5 don’t quite hold her. I can feel that being something that I hope I get a chance to explore.
Thank you so much for speaking with me. I really, really appreciate it. I thought you were the Season MVP. Good luck with Emmy nominations morning coming up.
Well, that’s nice of you, I love who she is and I love her. I think it’s altogether a very enjoyable experience. Thank you so much.
Fiona Shaw is eligible for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for the third season of Killing Eve, which is currently available to stream on AMC and BBC America platforms.