Q&A: Sandra Oh on Killing Eve’s Return and Why She Won’t Host the Golden Globes Again

Season 2 premieres Sunday and will air on BBC America and AMC

Sandra Oh was nominated for an Emmy and won Golden Globe and SAG awards for Killing Eve. Aimee Spinks/BBCAmerica
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It’s been quite a year for Sandra Oh, thanks to her hit series Killing Eve, about an MI5 operative (Eve Polastri, played by Oh) tracking an assassin (Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer) around Europe. Oh was nominated for an Emmy and won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for the role, which also led to a co-hosting gig with Andy Samberg at January’s Golden Globes.

Killing Eve, the BBC America drama, which was Adweek’s best new TV show of 2018, built on its 18-49 and 25-54 demo audience each week during Season 1. The network said it was the first new scripted series to do so since Nielsen’s live-plus-3 measurement began more than a decade ago. As Killing Eve returns for Season 2 on Sunday, it has become too big for just one network. AMC Networks will be simulcasting it on both BBC America and AMC.

Oh spoke with Adweek about returning for Season 2, taking on new responsibilities as a co-executive producer and why you won’t see her hosting the Globes again.

Adweek: When you were on Grey’s Anatomy, you had that experience of being on a show that became a freshman hit, and then, you were under a much bigger spotlight for Season 2. Did you feel prepared more for going through that on Killing Eve this year?
Sandra Oh: That’s many, many years ago, and I feel like I’m just deeper into my own confidence as an artist. Because as you further go along, you get better tools to keep the noise out. It’s a distraction, and you can’t control it, except for what’s exactly in front of you. So I felt I got deeper in the creative process of it.

You said last year that one of the big draws for Killing Eve was showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Has Season 2 felt different now that she has stepped away?
Living and breathing these characters in your bones for two seasons, you’re really the one who is carrying the story because you’ve lived it. So the following of that and the following of the character is always what is going to draw me. It has shifted, but I do feel strongly that Emerald [Fennel, who took over as showrunner in Season 2] and Phoebe come from the same place. They have similar sensibilities, so it was a natural transition. The voice continued, and then, of course, Emerald has her own voice. And I feel like the entire cast really got deeper engaged with the dynamics between the characters.

Eve and Villanelle are separated early in this new season. The chemistry between those characters is so great, but it would make no sense storywise for them to continuously keep meeting up. How do you walk that line and make the most of the moments between the two of them?
That’s definitely what we try to explore in the second season: How do you be together? What I’m interested in continuing is if you’re in an impossible situation, and this can be where we are in a relationship or where we can be geopolitically, where do you go? How do we still “be?” Those are the questions I’m deeply exploring in this character and that I hope that the show will go on with.

You’re a co-executive producer this season. Why was that title important to you and what new duties did you have?
I felt it was really important to me because it’s the way that I want to collaborate now and the way that I feel I work the best. This is the great thing I love about television that is not the same as film and not necessarily the same as theater. You’re making it as you’re going along. Like my hair—when Phoebe was writing the pilot, she wasn’t planning on having plot points based on my hair. But because you’re doing that, you get to have something that’s happening immediately as you get to move it along that way. I wanted that collaboration to be able to continue, and I felt like I had a lot more to say.

Two years ago, you did that great spot for National Canadian Film Day. Are you open to doing more partnerships?
It just has to make sense. I did the Canadian Film Day because I’ve made Canadian films and I wanted to promote that. It was also our big anniversary. It just has to make sense to me. It just has to feel right to me.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.