Interview with Sean Delaney plays Kenny Stowton in Killing Eve
Killing Eve - season two Multi award-winning cat-and-mouse thriller returns to the UK on June 8
What’s in store for Kenny this season?
Kenny is the IT genius within the new MI6 team that Carolyn has put together called Operation Mandalay. He’s clever at what he does, but not so clever when it comes to social interaction, and very much in the shadow of his mother. His moral core however, is probably stronger than anyone else there.
He is loyal to Eve but concerned about her choices. He’s probably started washing a bit more now he shares an office. In season one a lot of the story follows his job, but as it goes on we begin to see the personal side of things taking hold of him. We look at his relationship with his mother, his relationship with his job, and his relationship with his co-workers. In season two we see a lot more personal costs of the job.
What is the mother and son relationship like between Kenny and Carolyn?
Quite early doors in season one, I think it was Fiona or Sandra who were joking about how similar Carolyn and Kenny were, and then Phoebe Waller-Bridge just ran with the genius idea of Carolyn being Kenny’s mother. She probably brought him into the office knowing his skills and how he interacts. She must have known there wouldn’t be many other jobs out there for him.
It’s an incredibly weird relationship which is really complicated. It adds a lot of comic relief throughout the first season, but when you delve into it you start to realise that this lad has a mother who is travelling around the world doing top secret work and so there hasn’t been much of a relationship between them. As he gets older, we start to see the effects of him not having a stable or normal mother figure. A lot more of that creeps into this series.
What is it like working with Fiona Shaw?
In my first month at drama school Fiona Shaw came in to do a Q&A and it was mind blowing! Four years later, I’m doing my second series with her. She’s amazing, really nuanced, hard-working and very detailed. It’s kind of ridiculous how present she is, all the time. She is constantly with you and constantly on the ball. Fiona is a fascinating person to work with and her passion and work ethic is contagious on set. I’ve learnt loads from her, even stuff that I can’t apply yet. She is incredibly generous and caring and a lot nicer than her character, which is a relief.
How do you develop your character after getting the script?
When I first started the whole thing was a bit of a mystery to me. It’s all a bit quicker this season. I start with the text and what’s said to him, by him and about him, and look for tiny little clues in what’s not said. A lot of it comes from really good writing and a really good world being made. I’m awful with computers so there was a bit of research to do on that! I also work through the little things, like how he stands or sits and what he’s wearing.
Killing Eve mixes drama, thriller and comedy genres perfectly. What is it like to switch between these tones?
It’s a challenge not to get sucked into doing comedy or trying to be funny. As soon as you try and make something funny, the magic of it just goes. One of the great things about Phoebe and now Emerald’s writing is how you can be in a bleak situation or panic-ridden, high- stakes stressful environment, and they throw in a comment which dramatically clashes with that. It works because they’re truthful in those situations and have created detailed and layered characters.
The people who are investigating aren’t necessarily the obvious choices for a team, and that natural chemistry leads to some darkly comic moments. The scripts switch seamlessly from incredibly emotional dark moments to something very funny.
How does Killing Eve feel different to your normal story about the world of spies and assassins?
It’s a surprise compared to every other spy thriller around at the moment, because of the much-delayed casting of two women in the lead roles. They’re also playing detailed, gritty roles that are completely brought to life. You get glimpses into these people’s homes and see Eve trying to balance a relationship despite the problems arising from her obsession with Villanelle. That’s really refreshing.
In most spy dramas you get these stone-cold, invincible characters who are all about the action with no cost or effect on them. One of the brilliant things about this is that on both sides you start to see the emotional cost. That’s where it hits home for the audience and why it’s gone down so well. People can relate to certain moments like a little crack in a relationship or an emotional issue that hits home. These incredibly layered and deep characters seem to be chiming with people, which is amazing.
How would you briefly describe Killing Eve?
Killing Eve is darkly funny, very moving, and a complete rollercoaster ride where you get dragged in from the beginning and never really get off - even at the end.