Fiona Shaw has spoken of her joy at “not playing plain virtue” and having leading female characters who are a departure from the norm in Killing Eve.
Irish actress Shaw, 60, returns in the second series of the BBC drama, which returns to screens in June.
The series, created by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, stars Shaw as Carolyn Martens, who is Eve’s boss and the head of the Russia section at MI6.
She said: “We’ve all been brought up on endless boys doing this work, and enjoying them, so it’s fantastic to have three people who are female running the good and bad of this world.
“It’s a joy not to play plain virtue. Women often play virtue and it’s very nice to not necessarily be good, and not necessarily be bad. Except for Villanelle who’s very bad, but it’s a morally ambiguous world.
“The three women are not tied to a home or to husbands or sons. They are tied to a vision of excitement that life can be for both genders and it is fantastic to have the opportunity to be able to do that.
“This show looks at your biggest fears about what women might be. It’s about the discomfort of a world where nothing’s sure. It’s a thriller, it is funny but it’s also disquieting. Ultimately that makes it a very fulfilling event”.
The second instalment, which has already aired in the US, is written by Emerald Fennell with Waller-Bridge taking on an executive producer role.
Writer and actress Fennell has starred in Call The Midwife and will be seen on screen this year playing Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the third series of The Crown.
The second series of Killing Eve sees the return of Jodie Comer, who plays psychotic assassin Villanelle and Sandra Oh, who plays British intelligence agent Eve Polastri.
The series won a hat-trick of awards at this year’s TV Baftas, with Shaw picking up the best supporting actress gong.
The Harry Potter actress said: “I was keen on Carolyn being like me and very quickly I discovered that she really isn’t. I kept trying to play her using the range of feelings that I have but I was very surprised to discover that Carolyn really only functions by not smiling and not laughing.
“You never know whether she’s making a joke or not and that is great to play but it’s also very hard to play”.
Killing Eve returns to UK screens in June.