Phoebe Waller-Bridge is really smashing it right now. Season two of Killing Eve, which she developed and exec produces, is winning rave reviews on BBC America; she’s co-written the upcoming Bond movie; and season two of her risqué British sitcom Fleabag is coming to Amazon Prime on May 17. Ahead of its premiere, let’s take a moment to get to know the actress-writer-producer a little better.
1. She has pretty illustrious ancestors.
Her maternal grandfather was the rather grandly-named Sir John Edward Longueville Clerke, 12th Baronet of Hitcham. And on her paternal side, she’s a descendant of Sir Egerton Leigh, who served as the Member of Parliament for Mid Cheshire for a few years during the Victorian era.
2. Her siblings are in the entertainment business, too.
Younger brother Jasper Waller-Bridge is a music manager, while older sister Isobel Waller-Bridge is a composer who wrote the music for Fleabag as well as ITV/Amazon Studios’ Vanity Fair and the John Malkovich-led Agatha Christie adaptation The ABC Murders.
3. She auditioned for a role in Downton Abbey… but didn’t get it..
“I went in, and I remember it was quite a serious part and I had really been auditioning for comedy for a couple of years and I was really thrilled to come in for this part, so I put my heart and soul into it,” Waller Bridge told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “I went in thinking, ‘I’m going to give my best, sincere, heartbreaking performance.’ It was a really beautiful scene in a church; there’s a little clue. And I went in and I gave this really heartfelt audition, and when I finished, they were like, ‘We had no idea she was so f—ing hilarious!” (Laughter.) I had really given myself, and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re not right.'”
4. One of her early TV appearances was a guest role on Jack Whitehall’s cult U.K. sitcom Bad Education.
She plays a not entirely effective anti-drugs campaigner!
5. She met Olivia Colman while filming Meryl Streep’s starring Margaret Thatcher movie The Iron Lady.
Waller-Bridge has a small role in the 2011 biopic as a secretary, while Colman appears as Thatcher’s daughter Carol. Colman apparently said to Waller-Bridge, “Let me know if you ever write anything I could be in,” and the result, several years later, was the deliciously zingy Godmother that Colman plays in Fleabag.
6. Olivia Colman really did slap her while shooting season one of Fleabag
“I basically had a fight with Olivia Colman,” Waller-Bridge told Vulture in 2016. “She did whack me really hard. It was only once, but it was just so great to have that flush of red [on my cheek] and have the genuine reaction. Because even though I know it’s coming, it’s still pretty shocking when you’re slapped by a national treasure.”
7. She described the premise of Killing Eve to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in a pretty, erm, memorable way.
8. Fleabag kind of happened by accident.
Waller-Bridge actually came up with the character when she was asked to perform a 10-minute bit at the London Storytelling Festival in 2012. “I just felt like being outrageous, and what popped out was this girl who is wickedly honest about her sex life,” she recalled in an interview with The Gentlewoman.
9. She has her own theater company.
She and longtime friend Vicky Jones (who’s written for Killing Eve) set up DryWhite when they struggled to get work after drama school. It now stages plays at London’s Soho Theatre, including the original production of Fleabag, and Mydidae by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child writer Jack Thorne.
10. She didn’t know what a droid was before she auditioned to play a droid in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
In fact, as she also recalled on The Graham Norton Show, she’d never even seen a Star Wars movie before trying out for the franchise.
Never change, Phoebe! Oh, and if you’d like to know even more about Phoebe Waller-Bridge, check out her super-fun ’73 Questions’ interview for Vogue, which was filmed at Soho Theatre, where the original stage production of Fleabag premiered.Read More