Jodie Comer's psychotic assassin Villanelle in Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Killing Eve is reversing stereotypes and anti-feminist associations pinned to 'femme fatales' - and it's part of the reason that its left swathes of viewers fans of a violent serial killer.
As the 25-year-old actress points out, Villanelle doesn't sleep her way out of sticky situations, nor does she 'sex her victims to death', or get sexual gratification from her cold-blooded killing.
'What I loved so much about the script, and one of the rules Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] had was that no matter what - whether or not people may find Villanelle sexy - she's never using it to get out of a bad situation, or to better herself in any way,' Comer told Harper's Bazaar UK. 'And that was a rule that Phoebe continued throughout. It's so refreshing to not have to worry about that.'
But Villanelle will wear her finest designer apparel on her day off, use dark humour to dissipate a bad atmosphere, and if she so fancies, eat an elegant canapé moments before scaling a building as part of another murderous mission.
All of which makes her refreshingly different, and more human.
These are all reasons why viewers are completely captivated by Villanelle, and - against their better judgement - rooting for her. Comer adds that it's also down to Waller-Bridge's bold and innovative writing, and because we're finally seeing a female villain from a woman's perspective. The 33-year-old Fleabag writer and actress also manages to create the perfect blend of thrilling drama and laugh-out-loud comedy in the eight-part series, which has been made available to watch on iPlayer for the next year.
'This is written by a woman who is different and will say the unsaid, and that's what Villanelle is about,' Comer continued. 'There's this perception that all women can bring to the table is their sexuality, which is ridiculous.'
The BBC thriller follows Sandra Oh's ambitious and flawed M15 operative Eve Polastri as she hunts down the ever-elusive Villanelle, becoming obsessed professionally and unprofessionally with the murderess in the process. Fiona Shaw plays MI6 legend Carolyn Martens, while The Bridge star Kim Bodnia stars as Villanelle's mysterious boss.
Even though at first it would appear that Eve is the inherently 'good' one, you soon begin to question her motives and morals, so neither characters conform to a straight-forward hero or baddie.
'Villanelle should be the villain but what I also love about the show is you question even Eve's morals and you end up rooting for Villanelle,' the Doctor Foster star continued. 'And I've found that people really quite like her which, maybe they shouldn't, but they do.'
Fleabag's Waller-Bridge has previously said it's Comer's charm, loveable cheek and vulnerability that makes Villanelle 'bizarrely relatable' and wins people over. Even if they are a tiny bit afraid of her too - she is a psychopath after all.
"SHE IS THE WARMEST, CHEEKIEST, MOST ALIVE AND PRESENT ACTOR"
'Villanelle is a really challenging character because obviously she's a psychopath, so "how do you make people care about a psychopath?" is the question that kept coming up early on - and the answer is to cast Jodie Comer!' Waller-Bridge recently told the BBC.
'She is the warmest, cheekiest, most alive and present actor. She can create this inner world in a person with the type of psychology that could easily be dismissed as one thing; she's brought so much complexity to this character and so much vulnerability to her that she’s bizarrely relatable in Jodie's hands.'
BBC Meanwhile, Comer says Villanelle subverts stereotypes by dressing in her exquisite designer outfits solely for herself, rather than to impress or seduce men. 'That [her clothes and fashion] is her only outlet,' the star explained. 'She doesn't have friends, family or routine. She gets paid well, and clothes are how she expresses herself.'
'She has fun through it - she doesn't dress for anyone else, she just dresses for herself -which is also another misconception that women dress for men. And she shows that.'
One of the most compelling facets of the show is the complex, uniquely intimate connection between Villanelle and Eve. Comer admitted that both she and Sandra Oh are still trying to figure out what their relationship is, she did suggest that they're bound by 'sexual chemistry' and 'platonic admiration'. And she's excited that both she and Oh can develop it further in series two, which is expected to arrive next year. 'We haven't put our finger on that yet and that's what's so exciting about coming back for a second series - it's open to all possibilities,' said Comer.
"FASHION IS HER ONLY OUTLET. SHE DOESN'T HAVE FRIENDS, FAMILY OR ROUTINE. SHE GETS PAID WELL, AND CLOTHES ARE HOW SHE EXPRESSES HERSELF"
Waller-Bridge is busy writing the second series instalment of her award-winning Fleabag, so Killing Eve's second series will be penned by Call the MidWife star Emerald Fennell. Comer reassures fans that - despite being 'initially worried' that the second part wouldn't be the same without Waller-Bridge's humour and distinctive voice - the show is 'in safe hands'.
She adds that Fennell and Waller-Bridge are good friends, and share a similar sense of humour. 'It never put me off [returning as Villanelle] but it initially worried me. What everyone loves is that Phoebe is so unique, and her voice is so distinctive,' Comer confessed. 'You think, "Oh god, how is anyone else going to be able to take the reigns?"
'But you have Emerald, who is so brilliant and also a very close friend of Phoebe's. They have a very similar sense of humour and Emerald really understands the characters and the tone of the show.'
Comer - who has already started filming the second instalment - is also looking forward to seeing where Villanelle will go after Killing Eve's shocking finale.
BBC "It's so funny when you finish a series you think - 'where are we going to go from here?' - and the writer then brings out all this wonderful stuff we just didn't think of. At first I was apprehensive, but then when we started working on scripts and rehearsing, it was clear that we were in safe hands.
'I've been really excited by the script, and where the characters go.'
And, we're all addicted to Villanelle, we obviously can't wait either.