“Switch it on, here we go! I’m so happy to be doing this interview, I love The Big Issue.”
Award-winning actress Fiona Shaw invited us into her North London home to chat Killing Eve, an appearance in the unexpected breakthrough comedy Fleabag and the noise of Brexit.
At the top of her profession for decade, Shaw grabbed an Olivier Award for Electra in 1988 and a major role opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot heralded a sweet cocktail of groundbreaking stage work and film and TV hits. Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre – “revelatory, I learned a lot about myself”, setting her cap at Tom Selleck in Three Men and A Little Lady, causing a scandal as Richard II in 1997 and joining the Harry Potter franchise as the boy wizard’s Aunt Petunia. But Shaw has definitely been having a moment of late. “A lot of exciting roles are landing on my desk. Four things came out in one month,” she says.
It began with super-dry, stylish, secretive, sensational Carolyn Martens, head of the Russia Desk at MI6 in Killing Eve. Her delivery of the line “I once saw a rat drink from a can of Coke there. Both hands. Extraordinary” to Sandra Oh’s bewildered Eve Polastri was one of the highlights of 2018.
This week she joins Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Series Two in breakthrough comedy Fleabag, which she hopes is the beginning of a long and beautiful artistic friendship.
“I’m happy to fly all over the world on Phoebe’s coat sleeve,” she says. “I will be very upset if she does anything I am not in. I will be offended.
“When you are in her presence, she is a tremendous force. It is like standing near one of those red heaters, she absolutely glows with energy. She is flying at the moment. I hope she will last a long time, she is burning with the joy of her abilities.”