The surprising public figure that inspired Killing Eve’s Villanelle

Killing Eve writers have revealed that psychopathic assassin Villanelle was based in part on a surprising celebrity - Harvey Weinstein.

Sister screenwriters Henrietta and Jessie Ashworth confirmed that the #MeToo movement was a hot topic in their all-female writers room in 2017, which led to the creation of Villanelle.

Conversations soon turned to extreme and psychopathic behaviour, which led writers to discuss disgraced Hollywood film boss, Weinstein, and the social movement that soon became a trending topic.

Many in the entertainment industry came forward about their experiences with predatory behaviour, with both women and men empowered to speak out due to the growing movement on social media.

Speaking about this, the Ashworths said, “#MeToo was in the news, so there were great conversations going on about psychopaths and Harvey Weinstein”.

“The show was informed a little bit by talking about what makes people do extreme things. It was one of the conversations we were having because #MeToo was happening at the time.”

A complex villain like Villanelle needs plenty of inspiration, and writer-director Phoebe Waller-Bridge revealed she ‘fell into a Google hole’ when researching female assassins.

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One woman in particular was Angela Simpson, who laughed through an interview where she was questioned about torturing and killing a disabled man. She also asked filmmakers to ‘make her look good’ for the cameras.

Villanelle

Speaking about this, Phoebe described Angela as “sounding more like a psycho than anyone has ever sounded”, and used this interview to further develop Villanelle’s character.

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Jodie Comer’s chilling performance earned her a BAFTA award, and we can certainly see why. So much work has gone into adapting Villanelle for the screen, from Luke Jennings’ Codename Villanelle novel.

There’s currently five novels in the series, giving readers plenty of material and insight into the character. If you need your fix immediately, series 1 and 2 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.