A Conversation
Hollywood 2024 Issue

Jodie Comer on Accents and Accidentally Singeing Her Eyelashes

The British actor is only 30 and already halfway to an EGOT, but she swears she’s not following a playbook: “I am just following my gut.”
Jodie Comer in a Balenciaga Couture dress and Maria Tash earrings readjusts her hair on the set of Vanity Fairs 2024...
Photograph by Landon Nordeman; styled by George Cortina.

After a demanding, Tony-winning stint on Broadway with Prima Facie, Jodie Comer was hoping to catch her breath. When her next project, Jeff Nichols’s The Bikeriders, was taken off the release calendar amid the Hollywood strikes, she discovered that she actually could. It was a rare break for the Liverpool-born actor, whose breakout performance as the cunning assassin Villanelle in Killing Eve propelled her to an Emmy.

With The Bikeriders back on the calendar for this summer thanks to a new distributor, and her performance in the meditative disaster film The End We Start From earning raves, Comer is poised for another busy year. We’re thrilled to have her as part of our 2024 Hollywood issue. The actor—a chameleon just as comfortable playing a sophisticated killer as she is a sexual assault victim or a wronged video game designer—is already halfway to an EGOT, but swears she’s not following a playbook: “I am just following my gut at the moment.”


Vanity Fair: When something happens like The Bikeriders losing its release date, and then being sold to a new distributor, do you concern yourself with those business decisions, or are you able to tune it out?

Jodie Comer: I’m quite good at putting it to one side, purely because sometimes the more you can accept that things are out of your control, the better it is for your mental health. It was unfortunate, especially because Jeff had done so much of the promo already, bless him. But I always just trust that things happen as they’re meant to. We found a lovely home with Focus, and we’re all going to be able to promote it. I’m really looking forward to people seeing it and to be able to actually speak about it this year.

Your recent projects are all very different. How much of that is strategic?

I’m not strategizing at all, but I definitely am constantly searching for something that I haven’t discovered before, whether that be about myself or a challenge within the role. I’m constantly looking for something that is throwing me out of my comfort zone. I am just following my gut at the moment so far.

The Bikeriders is inspired by a real-life motorcycle gang. What drew you to the project?

I play the role of Kathy, who is a part of the gang via being married to Benny, who’s played by Austin Butler, but she’s actually the kind of narrator of the movie. The film is told from her perspective. I’ve been a massive fan of Jeff’s for so long. I Zoomed with him when I was doing Prima Facie, and he sent me the script and he was like, “Just so you know, I have 30 minutes of audio of [the real-life] Kathy.” When he sent me that, and I read the script, and I knew it was him directing it, I was just like, I have to do this. I was excited to try and get as far away from myself as I possibly could.

Photograph by Landon Nordeman; styled by George Cortina.

Your do amazing accent work in The Bikeriders and in Killing Eve. What’s your process for creating the right voice?

It’s something that I really enjoy. And I struggle with it because I know I did a lot of accents on Killing Eve, and it’s almost like then there’s an expectation of you doing an accent. I never want to do accents for the sake of it. I want it to feel real.

A big thing that struck me and my dialogue coach, Victoria, when we started listening to the audio [of Kathy], is that her accent is entirely her own. She’s from Chicago, but every vowel sound was a contradiction. Victoria was like, “Do you want to do a Chicago accent or do you want to try and get as close to this audio as possible?” And I was like, “I want to get as close to the audio.” Jeff was in huge support of that because you suddenly understand who this woman is. You just hear it. So I had a lot of conversations with Jeff, and I’d send him voice notes when I was practicing. It was just about getting so comfortable with it that when I got to set, I could throw it away.

Do you take your work home with you?

Generally I’m quite good with not bringing it home. One thing I did with Kathy—which I will never do again, because I don’t smoke in real life—was that I was smoking a little bit at home. My pet peeve is when you see people smoking onscreen who you can tell have never smoked a cigarette, and she was just constantly chain smoking. I was like, I have to make sure that it looks like she eats these cigarettes for breakfast. And I went to light the cigarette on the gas hub and the flame singed my eyelashes. So that’s one way I took Kathy home with me, which I learned the hard way.

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Last year was a great year for the box office, but some superhero films struggled. Is a superhero or franchise film something you’d want to pursue?

I would never say never. I think the beautiful thing about this job and life is that our tastes change and our interests change. Who knows if years down the line I’m like, actually, I want to try this out. At the moment, I don’t have that kind of craving, and I feel quite content with that. But who knows? The next generation of writers, creators are incredibly innovative, and there might be a new version of that thing that we once knew. So I’ll keep my options open.

What would be a career pinnacle for you?

I would love to work with, to name a few, Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold, Julia Ducournau. I’d also love to do a musical. I’d love to do something that’s kind of science fiction but feels like it’s rooted in a sense of reality, like Black Mirror.

Your career recently evolved to a point where you are now carrying projects. How has that changed your experience as an actor?

It’s been lovely. I was an executive producer on The End We Start From. Having that kind of role within the team—being a part of the preproduction, postproduction, watching every cut that is made, making notes about that, being part of those conversations—has been incredibly inspiring and stimulating. It’s really helping me gauge my own sense of taste and opinion and has allowed me to feel comfortable enough to put my hand up in a room and say, “Oh, guys, this is what I’m thinking.” 

I’ve been incredibly lucky to be part of the projects I have, with women who are so complex, and I have so much to dig my teeth into. And it’s funny: Once you’ve had a taste of that, it makes it harder. Because then it’s like nothing but that will suffice.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. For fashion and beauty details, go to VF.com/credits.