'Killing Eve's Villanelle Is Based on a Real-Life Female Serial Killer

We can't get enough of Killing Eve, as you may have noticed from our recent coverage of the BBC America original. And, some new information has just surfaced in an interview with Codename Villanelle author Luke Jennings.

Jennings' novella is the starting point of the cat and mouse chase series. He recently took part in an online chat for the Lyme Crime literary festival, saying Villanelle (Jodie Comer) was inspired by Idoia López Riaño, a Spanish hit woman known as La Tigresa, reports The Independent. She worked for the armed Basque separatist group known as ETA.

He revealed the specifics, saying, “She killed 23 people, and she was clearly a psychopath and completely, completely without empathy." She became involved with the ETA when she was 18.

Apparently, Riaño earned her nickname, La Tigresa, because of her "sexual prowess." She would seduce police officers to get into their inner-circle and make her kills.

She also had a passion for fashion and... herself. Jennings shared a story about how her obsessions got in the way of her work, saying, "At the key moment, Idoia, who was supposed to be doing the killings, didn’t actually see him [a police officer] because she was so entranced with the window of a fashionable store and her own reflection in it."

This sounds like the Villanelle we know and love. Except, she wouldn't be so distracted as to actually miss her target.

Riaño was arrested in 1994 while in France, expedited to her home country of Spain and served a 23-year sentence in prison. She was released in 2017 at the age of 55.

We can't imagine Villanelle ever being arrested. That's probably where the similarities stop.

You can look for new episodes of KE premiering Sunday nights at 9pm EST on BBC America. And catch up on full episodes over at BBCAmerica.com and on the BBCA app.

Does this change the way you see Villanelle?