Everything to Know About Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the Breakout Writer and Star of Fleabag
Needless to say, Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s night is off to an excellent start.
At the 2019 Emmy Awards on Sunday, the British actress, writer and producer took home the award for best writing for a comedy series and best actress for Fleabag, her hit Amazon/BBC series about the sexual misadventures of a woman known only as Fleabag, originally based on her 2013 one-woman stage play of the same name.
The best actress win was particularly significant as Waller-Bridge, 34, beat Veep‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was nominated for her record 19th acting Emmy.
Read on for what you need to know about the charming and talented star.
She grew up in an upper-class family with baronets on both sides.
According to BBC America, Waller-Bridge’s maternal grandfather was Sir John Edward Longueville Clerke, 12th Baronet of Hitcham. And on her paternal side, she’s a descendant of Sir Egerton Leigh, who served as a member of Parliament for Mid Cheshire for a few years during the Victorian era.
Despite her prominent roots and upbringing, she has said that even as a little girl, she loved to shock.
“My grandmother was very proper and Christian and buttoned up,” she told The Guardian last year. “I adored her. She was very shockable, and as a kid shockable people were my ideal playmates. She would always want to have a prayer before we ate and I’d always be like, ‘Please can I do it, please can I do it, I’ve practiced one.’ … At school, when I was about , I’d heard someone say, ‘Good meat, good God, let’s eat,’ and I thought, well, that’s quite fun. It wasn’t outrageous, just slightly irreverent.”
She auditioned for a role in Downton Abbey — but didn’t get it.
“I went in, and I remember it was quite a serious part and I had really been auditioning for comedy for a couple of years and I was really thrilled to come in for this part, so I put my heart and soul into it,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “I went in thinking, ‘I’m going to give my best, sincere, heartbreaking performance.’ It was a really beautiful scene in a church; there’s a little clue. And I went in and I gave this really heartfelt audition, and when I finished, they were like, ‘We had no idea she was so f—— hilarious!’ I had really given myself, and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re not right.’ ”
Fleabag began as a dare.
In a 2017 interview with U.K. publication The Gentlewoman, Waller-Bridge said that her friend and fellow comedian Deborah Frances-White was organizing a stand-up night as part of the London Storytelling Festival and challenged her to write a 10-minute piece.
“I just felt like being outrageous,” Waller-Bridge recalled. “And what popped out was this girl who is wickedly honest about her sex life.”
But behind the bravado, the darkly funny character also struggles with grief, insecurity and guilt. “That was really important to me,” Waller-Bridge explained. “Otherwise the sex stuff seems like affectation.”
After its initial release on BBC Three, Fleabag — which is also up for best comedy series at the Emmys — was picked up by Amazon and premiered in the U.S. in 2016.
Season 2, which Waller-Bridge has said is the last, was released earlier this year. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter last month, she confirmed that Fleabag’s sexcapades are indeed over … for now.
“I feel like it’s done, but I do have a fantasy of bringing her back when I’m, like, 45 or 50,” she said. “She went on the biggest journey over the past two seasons, and she started as someone who sort of hated herself and ended up as someone believing that she could love again and forgive herself. I have to respect that arc and let her go and live for a bit.”
She adapted Killing Eve for television.
Waller-Bridge was the showrunner, writer and producer for the first season of the BBC America thriller based on the novels by Luke Jennings.
The show earned Waller-Bridge her first Emmy nomination for outstanding writing for a drama series last year. It is also up for best drama series at Sunday’s ceremony.
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She voiced the droid L3-37 in the Star Wars movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.
But as she recalled on The Graham Norton Show, she didn’t know what a droid was before she auditioned for the part — and had never even seen a Star Wars movie.
She co-wrote the upcoming Bond movie.
Waller-Bridge was hired to polish the script for the next James Bond movie, starring Daniel Craig and helmed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
According to reports, she was specifically requested by Bond himself, Craig, to add humor to the film that’s slated to hit theaters in April 2020.
“It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character,” Waller-Bridge said via Deadline.
You’ll see her soon on Saturday Night Live.
Waller-Bridge’s huge year continues with her SNL hosting debut this fall. She’s scheduled to host the NBC sketch comedy series on Oct. 5, when the musical guest will be none other than pop superstar Taylor Swift.
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards are airing live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.