English star Jodie Comer has all the smooth moves when she plays deadly assassin Villanelle opposite Sandra Oh’s spy in the hit show Killing Eve.
But in reality, things are a little bit different.
“I’m not very cool in my own life,” Comer laughs. Her self-deprecating humour and Liverpudlian accent is a world away from the chilling Russian killer we all love to hate.
“I’m not very agile, and my coordination isn’t the best.”
Which made switching into Hollywood action movie mode a mite tricky in new film Free Guy. Comer plays Molotov Girl, a kick-ass, leather-clad hero in an online computer game called Free City that’s not entirely unlike Fortnite.
Appearing alongside Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and Jojo Rabbit’s Taika Waititi, Comer’s Molotov is actually the online avatar of a daggy computer game developer called Millie.
It’s while in game mode that Molotov turns the head of beloved Canadian star Reynolds as the unremarkable Guy, a non-playable character who somehow gains sentience after spotting her.
Think Ready Player One meets The Truman Show.
Thank God for stunt doubles
Comer said it was a lot easier to act like she was falling in love with Reynolds than it was to nail the fight sequences.
“With romance, we all have those feelings stored in us. It’s easy to draw from, whereas action is not something that I do in my day-to-day life, you know,” she told The New Daily.
“I’ll do an hour’s exercise at a push.”
Nimble stunt double Hayley Wright saved the day. She has stepped into the shoes of stars like Elizabeth Olsen in Marvel show WandaVision, Amber Heard in Aquaman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Birds of Prey.
“I would jump in the air, the incredible Hayley would do the actual flips, and then I would do the landing,” Comer says of her close working relationship with Wright.
Not that Comer didn’t put in the hard yards. She spent some three hours a day for weeks working out with the stunt department in Boston, where Free Guy was shot.
Acting alongside Reynolds did require a lot of effort to keep a straight face.
“What I love about Ryan is what you see is definitely what you get,” she said.
“Before meeting him, I was going, ‘Is he really that nice?’ You know, he just seems pretty perfect. And he is! He’s honestly lovely… but between him and Taika, we were just trying not to laugh, basically.”
Ballads for the ages
There’s a moment in the film, when Guy first sets his eyes on Molotov, that required a bit of special treatment. It required Comer to dig deep.
The scene is set to Mariah Carey’s classic 1995 banger Fantasy. But director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) brought a different diva to the set, to get the mood just right.
“I had to walk across the road, which I knew was going to be put in slow motion, and just this idea of there being like a camera behind me, watching me do this walk was making me cringe so hard,” Comer said of the ‘first sight’ scene.
“But Shawn would always blast Beyoncé.”
That wasn’t the last of it.
A couple of months after wrapping the film, Reynolds texted her to ask what her vocal ability was like. He wanted her to cover Fantasy for a pivotal moment on the movie’s soundtrack.
“So I obviously went into my bathroom, got my voice recorder out on my mobile phone and tested my skills out,” Comer says.
“And I was like …. maybe I could?”
She sent him the recording, and he agreed.
Pretty soon, she was in Los Angeles heading to Hollywood’s iconic Capitol Records Building, a place a certain famous foursome from Liverpool went before.
“The Beatles recorded there,” Comer says, still amazed at the jaw-drop moment.
“And The Rolling Stones.”
It was team effort with Wright, aided by inspiration from Beyoncé and Mariah Carey. Still, if it were up to Comer, there’s only one woman she’d take into the film’s game.
“My mum, I’ve gotta bring my mum. I couldn’t go anywhere without my mum,” she said.
The computer game violence in Free Guy might prove a sticking point, however. While her daughter may be famous for portraying a cold killer, Comer’s mum isn’t too fond of biffo.
“I don’t think she would like it, to be fair,” Comer said.
“I think she would probably say, ‘You know what, I’ll sit this one out’.”
Free Guy is screening in Australian cinemas now.