Phoebe Waller-Bridge Q&A: ‘Fleabag’
“I’m just a happily married writer in London,” confesses Phoebe Waller-Bridge during our recent webcam chat (watch above) about her Amazon comedy “Fleabag.” She adds, “Everyone just assumes I’m rolling backwards out of nightclubs clinging onto the trouser legs of men I’ve never met. They are all surprised and slightly disappointed.”
In the first-year comedy she created, Waller-Bridge plays the title character as someone who navigates relationships, family and raising a pet guinea pig in the wake of a personal tragedy. The actress talks about how she uses sex and comedy to cope: “She manages to control her life and her sense of personal value through sex. She’s not prudish at all and she uses it as a weapon of confidence. If she knows someone wants to have sex with her or she’s having sex, in that moment in her life, she can relinquish control of everything else. This is because she feels validated and in control.”
Waller-Bridge goes on to explain that “by the end of the season you’re hopefully watching the overflowing confession that that’s her weakness. It’s sort of playing with the idea that a ‘liberated’ sexually confident young woman, that is considered a ‘cool thing,’ can actually be more complicated.” In terms of delivering these ideas through comedy, she says that “audiences make themselves so vulnerable when they laugh. They forget for a moment they are there, with mouths and hearts open. I kept thinking that if I can get an audience to do that; I can punch their heart when they’re not noticing. The more I can make them laugh, the more I can make them cry. That was kind of the aim.”
On how she is like “Fleabag,” Waller-Bridge reveals, “I found I was writing a character who used comedy to deflect a lot. And, although I’m lucky enough to not have to deflect the kind of horrible searing pain that she has, I was slightly unnerved by how easy that came to me. That I could just make a little joke and run the fuck away from a situation.”
Will “Fleabag” set Waller-Bridge on course to earn a Golden Globe or SAG nomination following her Critics Choice noms for Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Actress? Check out our full interview above for more, including if we will be seeing a season two of the show.