Jodie Comer: How The Scouse Powerhouse Has Cemented Herself As The Actress Of Our Generation

© David Fisher/BAFTA

Since her breakout performance as the hilariously lovable Russian assassin Villanelle in the BBC’s spy-thriller series Killing Eve, British actress Jodie Comer has taken the acting world by storm. Now a two-time BAFTA, Emmy, Olivier and most recently Tony award winner, there’s just nothing this scouse powerhouse can’t do.

Comer began her career as a small screen actress with minor parts in the likes of Waterloo Road and Holby City in 2010. Comer soon found herself dominating British television with leading performances in My Mad Fat Diary (2013-15), Thirteen (2016) and Doctor Foster (2015-17). She is now a huge hit across the pond; the door to the big screen first opened for her in 2021, and her sell-out West End run in one-woman show Prima Facie was followed by an equally successful stint on Broadway. In anticipation of the release of Comer’s latest film ventures—The End We Start From and The Bikeriders—let’s look back at the rise of one of Britain’s best acting talents.

From Penny Lane To Tinseltown

Hailing from Childwall—a leafy suburb of Liverpool where she still lives with her parents—Jodie Comer was always destined for the arts. At the tender age of 15 she won a local drama competition, where she was cast from an open call for a leading role in a BBC Radio play. What’s so magnificent about Comer is that she has never taken formal acting classes. After connecting with an agent and scoring a number of professional acting jobs in her late teens, drama school just wasn’t on the cards for the young talent—and she certainly didn’t need it.

A bubbly and vivacious child from the North West of England, Comer has spoken openly about her experiences with imposter syndrome as an up-and-coming actress from Liverpool. “I think it’s something that’s ingrained in you without you even knowing,” she told Glamour magazine.

As a result of the classism she faced in the industry, she almost completely got rid of her distinctive Liverpudlian lilt before mentor and fellow Scouser Stephen Graham convinced her not to. “Maybe it’s just this idea of being working class from the North West, you don’t hear those voices all the time on television,” she explained. It’s rare to hear Comer’s native accent when she’s in character—she’s the master of accents, with Russian, American, Scottish and French just some of the personas she has cultivated on screen, leaving fans gobsmacked when she talks in an interview. With a rare star quality and a dignified portrayal of award-worthy characters under her belt, it was clear from early on that Comer was surely going places.

The Big Screen Beckons

After a surprise cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker playing Rey’s mother, Comer landed her first leading role alongside Ryan Reynolds in the action comedy film Free Guy. Comer plays Millie, a video game creator, as well as her avatar “Molotov Girl”. It’s no mean feat playing two completely different characters—one an RP speaking avatar and the other a feisty American—for your first Hollywood film, but she smashes it.

‘The Last Duel’ (2021) ©️ 20th Century Studios

In stark contrast to a lighthearted video game, the film that perfectly showcases Comer’s plethora of acting capabilities is without doubt The Last Duel—yet it’s one that just hasn’t been talked about enough. Alongside Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Adam Driver, Comer plays Marguerite de Carrouges, a victim of rape who is left in danger of being killed for daring to speak out about her assault in the late 1300s. In an unusually appealing way of storytelling, Ridley Scott separates the film into three parts: from the view of Marguerite’s husband Jean de Carrouges (Damon), the perpetrator Jacques Le Gris (Driver) and the truth, from Marguerite (Comer) herself. Her unflinching account of a strong yet vulnerable woman who refused to be silenced was a sign of further greatness.

The End We Start From

Comer’s film career is most definitely not slowing down, as she stars in two highly anticipated blockbusters set to be released in the coming months. It was announced in 2022 that Comer had been cast as the lead in a new film directed by BAFTA winner Mahalia Belo, which also stars and is produced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Based on the bestselling book of the same name by Megan Hunter, The End We Start From follows a new mother—played by Comer—who with her husband and newborn baby have to navigate a mass flooding that has destroyed their London home.

‘The End We Start From’ (2023) ©️ Signature Entertainment

Following early screenings of the film, critics have been quick to praise Comer for her compelling performance. “When she does get the briefest of pauses, to deliver a moving monologue about a deep-rooted fear of death or to finally allow herself to cry, it’s all the more impactful for the restraint that’s surrounding and Comer is outstanding whatever the mode,” said The Guardian. Post-apocalyptic roles are new territory for Comer, with fans sure to delight in seeing her in a dark survival feature.

The Bikeriders

Alongside the release of The End We Start From, Comer is also set to star in Jeff Nichols’ latest project The Bikeriders. Inspired by Danny Lyon’s celebrated book of photography, the films follows the members of a midwestern motorcycle club in the 1960s. Alongside Comer (this time sporting a thick midwest accent), the cast boasts the likes of Austin Butler and Tom Hardy—a trio likely to blow the box office away. With the official trailer recently released, excitement continues to build for the release of The Bikeriders later this year. Much like her role in The End We Start From, it’ll be a certain breath of fresh air seeing Comer in a role so unlike anything she’s ever done before.

It’s without a doubt that Jodie Comer is the jewel in the crown of British acting. Her effortless portrayal of a Russian assassin, a scorned wife, a video game character and a rape victim, to name a few, cements Comer into the acting history books. She is a star, and her career on the big screen is only just beginning. The sky is truly the limit.

The End We Start From premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, with a UK release date yet to be announced. The Bikeriders will screen at the London Film Festival in October and opens in cinemas 1 December.

Words by Sara Baalla

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