Tribute to Jodie Comer
She has all the trappings of a superstar: a killer look, a handful of awards and £4.5m in the bank. But mention “Jodie Comer” to your friends and you’re sure to get a few blank stares. The British actress, best known for playing the super stylish assassin Villanelle in the BBC series Kill Eve, has yet to become a household name. And, like many in his growing legion of fans, I want to know why.
This month I saw Jodie, 29, in At first glance, his first play in the West End. It’s a masterpiece of a monologue in which she confronts grueling issues including sexual assault, misogyny and bias in the criminal justice system — and she was nothing short of amazing. When the curtain fell, I could barely speak. The woman next to me was so stunned that she stayed in her seat until everyone in the auditorium had left. A couple in the back were left in tears.
Even though I saw the show as part of National Theater Live, sitting in front of a cinema screen rather than a stage, I could have sworn its star was standing right in front of me. Playing a feisty, ambitious young lawyer called Tessa, Jodie spoke at lightning speed, pacing and gesticulating wildly, sweating and screaming and diving in and out of one character, then another, so convincingly that I could see and hear them, even though she was the only one in the cast.
The play quietly became a cultural sensation, taking in £1.4m in its first 24 hours. To forget Thor or the last Superior gun: This one-woman act is the highest-grossing cinematic event since the pandemic, with Jodie being credited by a newspaper as “saving the UK box office single-handedly”.
So who is she – and why isn’t her name already on everyone’s lips? Jodie comes from Liverpool, where she attended St Julie’s Catholic High School and has apparently impressed teachers and pupils with her “prodigious talent and diligent work ethic”. When I interviewed her dance teacher, Jo Walls, in 2018, she couldn’t praise her enough, telling me, “She was a really big part of school life. She was academic but also very creative.
Weekend drama school – where Jodie became known for her ability to slip and lose her accents – led to her first stage monologue aged just 11. In 2006 she won the Liverpool Drama Festival, then got her first paid job (in a Radio 4 play) and got a temp agent.
Footage emerged last week of his television debut, in a 2008 ITV series called The Royal today, in which 14-year-old Jodie played a heartbreaking teenager. It wasn’t an Oscar-winning performance, but it was already clear that she had star quality.
Next come the binary parts in City of Holby, Waterloo Road and silent witness – and in 2016, the young actress played a kidnapping victim in a BBC thriller Thirteen, a role that earned him a Bafta nomination. She was named “star of tomorrow” at the London Film Festival in 2016 and 2017, scored the lead role in Kill Eve in 2018 – and the rest really should be history.
So why is Jodie Comer still being dubbed a “rising” star after all of this? There’s her age, of course, but she’s achieved more under 30 than most of us can aspire to in a lifetime. And she’s not a shrinking violet, appearing on the cover of vogue not once but twice, winning a Bafta and an Emmy, and documenting his life on social media for his 2.6 million followers to watch in great detail.
The problem, it seems, is that despite all of this, Jodie doesn’t quite feel like a star — or act like one. She still lives with her parents – Donna, a railway worker, and James, a football physio – in Childwall, the working-class suburb of Liverpool where she grew up. She’s spotted at the local pub with her parents in tow more often than she’s chatted at glitzy events. She raves on Instagram about her mother’s Sunday roast, her younger brother Charlie and her love of dogs, sleep and cake.
“There’s no place I’d rather be at home in my pajamas with my brother, watching TV,” she said in a recent interview. “This is my happy space.” She also has a weighted view of fame, saying, “A lot of things happened by chance. I’m a big believer in fate, and it’s been working out well so far.
Insiders on her film and TV projects (she recently starred in action films free guyalongside Ryan Reynolds, and The last duelwith Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) reveal that she does most of her stunts, bloody as they are, and took intensive French and Italian lessons for Kill Eve, so popular that it is now run for four series. She even has a say in Villanelle’s coveted wardrobe, which ranges from drool-worthy designer dresses and goofy suits to psychedelic trouser suits and bejeweled coats — some of which she can keep.
Hardworking, self-deprecating and fiercely deprived of her home life (she is dating an American lacrosse player, but the pair have only been photographed together once – surely a show business record), she transforms the stereotype of the actress-of-the-moment on her head.
But could all of that be about to change – finally? Last week, Hollywood Insider penned a two-page love letter to the British actress, suggesting she’s finally caught the attention of industry bigwigs. Her upcoming projects are far from low-key, with starring roles in an HBO series, an environmental thriller and, if reports are to be believed, a docu-drama based on the Wagatha Christie trial, in which she stars. tipped to play Coleen Rooney.
Jodie Comer may not have come naturally to fame, but she certainly took it. Call me a fangirl, but I think she deserves all the applause, starring, and social media she gets. I doubt it will change her. And this time next year, maybe even next month or next week, everyone will know his name. Just remember you heard it here first.