Phoebe Waller-Bridge swept the 2019 BAFTAS with three awards for Killing Eve, and during her emotive speech, she complimented her incredible cast for “taking massive risks the whole time.” One of the risks in question? Jodie Comer almost swallowed a wasp while filming in Tuscany.
It’s this ability to be heartrending and hilarious – in the same moment – that has made Phoebe Waller-Bridge the woman we can’t get enough of. She is everywhere: Killing Eve‘s second season has just premiered in the US (expect it on UK screens in early June); Fleabag just finished a critically lauded second season (but you can catch her performing it live in London this summer) and Waller-Bridge was announced as part of the writing team for the next James Bond release, Bond 25.
She can make us laugh, and cry. She writes women that are flawed, yet irresistible. She wears many hats: actress, writer, playwright, producer, director. And she lets her art reflect her own concerns and contradictions about feminism.
Here are some of our favourite Phoebe Waller-Bridge moments.
When she was enlisted to “save” James Bond
The 25th film in the Bond series has had a complicated production history, with director Danny Boyle quitting due to creative differences with the producers. Reports have stated that Bond himself, Daniel Craig, requested that Waller-Bridge look at the script and bring her “wit and quirkiness” to the project.
Waller-Bridge told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter Podcast that her plans for the script are “mainly about making them feel like real people, you know? I think Daniel’s films have had really fantastic Bond girls, so it’s just keeping it up.”
Everything about Fleabag
Initially written as a one-woman play, Fleabag began as a monologue performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 about “some sort of woman living her sort of life” – the story of a woman running an unsuccessful cafe, coping with the death of her best friend and having all sorts of sexual shenanigans. The BBC series turned Waller-Bridge into a household name, and the two-series show has been called the most “electrifying, devastating TV in years.” We’ve cringed, we’ve cried, we’ve laughed, we’ve fallen in love and we’ve naturally watched it all on repeat, all over again, from the beginning.
Series two made TV history by breaking the breaking of the fourth wall – when sexy priest, Andrew Scott, notices Fleabag talking directly to the camera. Seismic. We’re pretty sure it also made history with the over 100% rise in religious porn searches. If you were quick enough – or have an extra 600 quid lying around – you can catch Fleabag on stage in London this summer, in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s final performances of the stage show.
When she wrote this monologue about women
Kristin Scott Thomas made a memorable guest appearance in series two of Fleabag, in what will undoubtedly go down as one of the best feminist speeches in TV history (uttered by a flawless actress):
“Women are born with pain built in. It’s our physical destiny: period pains, sore boobs, childbirth, you know. We carry it within ourselves throughout our lives; men don’t.
“They have to seek it out, they invent all these gods and demons and things just so they can feel guilty about things, which is something we do very well on our own. And then they create wars so they can feel things and touch each other and when there aren’t any wars they can play rugby.
“We have it all going on in here inside, we have pain on a cycle for years and years and years and then just when you feel you are making peace with it all, what happens? The menopause comes, the f***ing menopause comes, and it is the most wonderful f***ing thing in the world.
“And yes, your entire pelvic floor crumbles and you get f***ing hot and no one cares, but then you’re free, no longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts. You’re just a person.”
No wonder fans have been watching this scene on repeat.
When she worries about being a “bad feminist”
Waller-Bridge often talks about how she feels she’s a flawed feminist role model. In 2017, she told The Sunday Times: “I’d just like my tits to be that much bigger, does that make me a terrible feminist?” and earlier this year she discussed the topic on The Andrew Marr Show, in reference to Fleabag:
“When I first was writing her, that felt like the most honest and frightening thing to put out there… Because she says in the first series that she’d rather take two years off her life to have a hot body and all that kind of stuff… you’re not supposed to say those things and those rules apply.
“I think it’s a feeling that a lot of women, and probably some men as well, feel like they could fall into a trap of being a bad feminist, which is somebody who doesn’t tick all the boxes of what it is to be a perfect feminist or a perfect spokesperson for the cause.
“And there are so many potholes in the road, it’s kind of frightening and you want to be able to say the right things.”
When she turns a spy drama into a love story AND a comedy
What makes Killing Eve such an exciting show? Is it Jodie Comer in that Molly Goddard dress, floating down the street? Yes. Is it the chemistry between Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, two amazing acting talents? Yes. Is it the moments of hilarity that emerge in unexpected places (see: Vilanelle’s one-liners). Yes, again. The show is mesmerising precisely because it subverts our expectations of what a thriller should be. It’s stylish and sexy and feminist and funny. And we cannot wait for series two. And for more PWB.