When Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought on as writer, showrunner and EP of BBC America’s Killing Eve, it was a sign of the changing times, star Sandra Oh said at TCA on Friday.

The show, based on novellas by Luke Jennings, features Oh as Eve, a woman tasked with hunting down psychopathic killer Villanell (Jodie Comer).

Killing Eve Sandra Oh
BBC America

“This is the change that we’re talking about,” Oh said of Bridge’s appointment to the show. “Here’s a young person who has a creative voice, who writes her own play. Someone gives her a big chance and says, ‘I’m going to give you a whole show,’ and then BBC America takes that up.” At the time of Bridge coming on board she had written the play for Fleabag but had not yet written a TV drama. “That’s a little bit of the change that this panel represents and that I’m ecstatic to be a part of,” Oh added. “It’s the faith that we put in each other.”

Another element that had Oh championing the show was her own casting. “The show has definitely a different tone to the novellas,” she said. “I would say the character Eve was much more serious, and also as I interpreted, in the novella was white. I am not white, I’m Asian, and I will say I was extremely pleased that that was taken into consideration in the casting, and wasn’t taken into consideration if you know what I’m saying.” Oh also appreciated Jennings’ enthusiasm. “I was also so pleased when Luke actually came on board with my casting as well,” she said, “because when you choose your family, it might not be what you’re reading in the novella.”

Killing Eve Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh
Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh
BBC America

Oh also finds herself feeling freed from the legacy of a ten-season stretch as Grey’s Anatomy character Cristina Yang. “I feel very much in a completely different world,” she said. “I was happy for the departure.” She conceded that there was a slight comparison between Eve and Cristina, saying “They are both determined characters,” but while Cristina was extremely self-confident and strictly controlled, Eve is very different. “Where I’m so interested with Eve is her frazzledness, that she doesn’t have things under control,” Oh said. “You see her in the first two episodes, how she’s quite insecure and she hasn’t found her voice.”

So overall, this is very much a change for Oh. “It’s so different that I don’t necessarily have those similar character comparisons at all, but I’m so happy and proud to be playing Eve.”

The other central character is of course the killer Villanell. For Comer, the role has been a challenge, particularly in regard to her character’s habit of embodying pretend personas to lure her victims – a job that included speaking Italian at one point.

“She’s definitely multi-faceted. She’s like an actress, that’s how I approach Villanelle,” Comer said. “I didn’t speak any languages and I was absolutely terrified. But I’m so glad, it really pushed me.”