'Fleabag' Star Phoebe Waller-Bridge on Cracking America

By Kay, Jeremy | Screen International, July 7, 2017 | Go to article overview

'Fleabag' Star Phoebe Waller-Bridge on Cracking America


Kay, Jeremy, Screen International


It may have started as a dare, but irreverent UK TV comedy Fleabag has gone on to international acclaim.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is having a moment. An enduring moment, in fact, that has seen her dazzle on film, stage and TV - most notably in her raw and raucous BBC and Amazon Studios hit, Fleabag. The six-part show, about the exploits of a sexually voracious Londoner with a penchant for chiselling away at the fourth wall, has thrust the west London dramatist and actress into the Emmys race.

Not bad for something that, as Waller-Bridge recalls with a throaty chuckle, started out as “a bit of a dare”. A friend persuaded her to perform at an open-mic night, so the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate, who had by then appeared in The Iron Lady, threw together a few anecdotes and took to the stage. The audience loved it and, unbeknown to her, friends including Drywrite Theatre Company co-founder Vicky Jones - who would direct the stage version - booked Waller-Bridge a slot at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival. Writing a play was not at that time part of her “grand plan”, so she felt little pressure beyond the looming deadline and wrote Fleabag in three weeks.

“I just wrote a character that I would love to play, who was basically this dark, contradictory, lying, acerbic sex addict,” Waller-Bridge says dryly. “I thought that would be fun. And people really related to that. …

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