Suzanne Heathcote Interview: ‘Killing Eve’ writer
“This season was about them acknowledging where they’re at and who they are as a result of everything that’s been,” Suzanne Heathcote tells Gold Derby in her exclusive interview about the third season of “Killing Eve” (watch the video above), which charts the relationship between Eve (played by Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer). As is tradition for the darkly comedic spy thriller, BBC America brought in Heathcote to lead the writing for a single season. “It really was about focusing on the season that I was working on specifically,” she says about how much she minded past and future seasons on which she is uninvolved in an official capacity. “There’s always a slight eye to the future and that’s just inevitable when you’re writing anything,” she adds after clarifying, “I wouldn’t have wanted to end things in a way that would have been impossible to have moved things on for season four or have made it very difficult.”
Although the series is produced for American television, Heathcote clarifies that it follows the British production model, so her role as “lead writer” was not as comprehensive as that of a “showrunner” under the American system. She explains, “You’re not showrunner in as much as you don’t have final say on absolutely everything in terms of costume design, that sort of thing and every detail of it and you’re not sitting in post the way you would in an American system.” She says to that end about the main title sequence that debuted this season, “I can’t credit myself with that.” She laughs about why it featured only in the second and seventh episodes, “There were some episodes it just felt right with more than others. I wish I could give you a more scientific forensic account, but that was really how it went.”
Admitting “a sense of relief” with the finale having aired this past Sunday, Heathcote was able to clarify some stray questions about plot points from the season. Asked about what happened to Villanelle’s wife Maria (Carmen Montero) after her one-off appearance in the season premiere, Heathcote assumes that she is “heartbroken” and responds that “she’s probably alone somewhere, eating wedding cake.” She reveals about why Niko (Owen McDonnell) was able to survive a pitchfork to the throat from Dascha (Harriet Walter), “It was one of those shocking moments that is the tenor of the show and so with that, to have him survive it, there was something darkly funny in that we felt nothing could quite kill him.” She laughs about earlier pitches for that arc, “Initially, we had an idea that he was thrown to the pigs and something happened.” Heathcote adds, “It did result in something larger because Eve commits a huge act of violence against Dascha. She and Vilanelle kill Dascha combined and what she did to Niko is the reason.”
“Killing Eve” has scored back-to-back Best Drama Writing nominations and Heathcote eyes a three-peat with her submission of “Are You from Pinner?” “It just felt very specific to this season,” she says about the “eclectic” Villanelle-centric installment, which is the only episode of the show to date not to feature an appearance by Eve (or Fiona Shaw‘s Carolyn). Having submitted only a single script by the lead writer from each of the first two seasons, Heathcote reveals that they are entering a second for the first time, with “Meetings Have Biscuits,” the earlier installment that sees Eve and Vilanelle reunited for the first time this season. “It just felt natural. It’s such a great, fun episode. It has the infamous bus scene and some really iconic moments for the season,” she says about the episode by Laura Neal, who is succeeding Heathcote as lead writer, for the fourth season that is being written now.