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Killing Eve star Jodie Comer reveals she was ‘scared’ to take Prima Facie role

Comer’s performance as barrister Tessa Ensler in the one-woman play earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress

Maanya Sachdeva
Thursday 16 November 2023 19:10 GMT
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Olivier Awards: Hannah Waddingham gives unusual praising speech to Jodie Comer

Jodie Comer has reflected on one of her most critically acclaimed performances to date, with the Killing Eve star admitting she was “scared” to take on the role.

In a new interview, Comer, 30, confessed she was initially intimidated by the prospect of portraying criminal defense attorney Tessa Ensler in the one-woman play Prima Facie because she had no previous theatre experience.

However, the actor added, “I’d want to punch myself in the face” if she passed on the opportunity because she was “scared”.

Jodie Comer said she was intimidated by taking on the role

Explaining her decision to accept the challenge, she told British Vogue: “I never got into this for the pay cheque. If I said no to this because I was scared and then they announced another actress, I’d want to punch myself in the face.”

Suzie Miller’s award-winning play, which eventually earned Comer both an Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Actress, enjoyed a spectacular run on the West End following its Broadway premiere in 2022.

The BAFTA winner has previously said Miller’s play was “impossible to say no to”, adding she had a “guttural instinct” about signing up for the project.

“Sometimes when things present themselves, it’s impossible to say no,” Comer explained. “This piece felt very, very clear to me. There was no hesitation that I felt. Sometimes that kind of guttural instinct really doesn’t lie.”

Prima Facie is based on lawyer Miller’s script about how current legislation in the UK proves hopelessly inadequate when it comes to sexual assault cases.

Comer won a Tony Award for Best Actress at the ceremony in New York earlier this year

During her acceptance speech at the Tony Awards ceremony at New York’s United Place this May, Comer declared the Prima Facie role her “greatest honour”.

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Speaking to the crowd about her Broadway debut, the British actor said: “This has been my greatest honour, and it continues to be these three weeks left.”

On her experience playing Tessa, Comer, who hails from Liverpool, added: “It was definitely a challenge. But it was also incredible. I think it really fed into this fact that Tessa was in control of every element of this storytelling.

“And that was what really struck me when I first read the piece,” she continued. “You know, I’d explored material before that deals with sexual assault, but it was never told in this manner. And I felt like she had so much control over the narrative.”

She also thanked the playwright Miller, while celebrating the play and its protagonist as “my greatest teacher”.

“And I have to thank Suzie Miller for that, who wrote this magnificent piece,” Comer said. “Without her, my performance would not be here, so this feels just as much Suzie’s as it is mine.”

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