With brilliantly irreverent British sitcom Fleabag pretty much cleaining up at this weekend’s 2020 Golden Globe Awards (oh, and at the 2019 Emmys back in September too) it’s high time we all brushed up on some important things to know about Phoebe Waller-Bridge. After all, now that she’s become a bona fide Globe-and-Emmy-snatching sensation, her name is bound to have landed in your brain and lodged there. Right?
Waller-Bridge took home the 2020 Golden Globe — her first — for Best Actress in a TV Comedy or Musical at the awards on Sunday, January 5. She accepted the award from Kerry Washington and Ted Dansen, and it was only about an hour later that Fleabag itself claimed the award for Best TV Series, Comedy or Musical.
And here’s the thing: You should know more about Waller-Bridge. Because she’s a gosh darn revelation. You already know this if you’re one of the many fans obsessed with her. Not a fan yet? Watch it. You will be. To give a bit of context to just how incredible the series is, let’s put it this way: Upon losing the streaming rights to Amazon, Netflix was so bummed out it has since begun referring to Fleabag as “the one that got away.”
But we digress, because the point of this whole spiel is that there’s much more to Waller-Bridge than just Fleabag. She’s the kind of person who seems to be squeezing multiple lifetimes into just the one, and they’re all utterly fascinating. (Remember those obsessive fans we referenced earlier? Yep, we’ll proudly wear that badge.)
So, sit back, picture a hot priest — you won’t think that’s sacrilege once you see Fleabag — and get to know multi-faceted wonder that is Waller-Bridge.
Yes, she just compared herself to a pebble in her Golden Globes acceptance speech.
At the Globes podium, a delighted (and downright glowing) Waller-Bridge accepted her Best Actress award and thanked her Fleabag co-star and fellow Golden Globe nominee Andrew Scott, saying he could basically charm the pants off a rock. “There was a lot of talk about the chemistry between us in the show, but really he can have chemistry with a pebble. So, I love being Andrew’s pebble in this.”
She’s responsible for Killing Eve, too
Yes, as in the much-raved-about series starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. Just as she is the writer and creator of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge is the writer and creator of Killing Eve. She also co-wrote the upcoming Bond movie, so can we go ahead and call her one of the greatest minds of our time? That tracks, if you ask us.
She comes from a long (and fancy) line of Brits
Waller-Bridge might use the kind of language that would make a sailor blush — her profanity is basically an art form — but she comes from an illustrious pedigree. Per the Guardian, her mother’s side of the family tree includes Sir John Edward Longueville Clerke, 12th Baronet of Hitcham. On her father’s side? Sir Egerton Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Mid Cheshire.
She almost made the Downton Abbey director pee their pants
Oh, you read that right. What makes it even funnier is that she wasn’t even trying. In an interview with The Times, she revealed that she auditioned to play one of the aristocratic Crawley sisters on the period series. She was unemployed, hungry (literally and figuratively) and headed into the interview with orders from her agent not to “fuck up.”
And then… “It was a really moving scene,” she shared. “It was meant to be sort of profound and moving and emotional, and I went in and I performed the scene and honestly I was like: I have nailed this.” Well, that was her thought — until she realized the director was “pissing himself laughing.” She did not get the part.
She auditioned to be a Star Wars droid… sort of
She did go to an audition. And it was for the part of a droid. The problem was Waller-Bridge had never seen a single Star Wars film going into the audition, so she had no idea what a droid was. At one point, she had her cab driver frantically calling his family members to try to find out if a droid was, in fact, a robot. Watch the clip to see how it all turned out.
She has a new comedy in the works
If you’re still holding out hope for another season of Fleabag, well, join the club. In the meantime, though, here’s something else to look forward to: HBO has picked up a new comedy by Waller-Bridge titled Run. Even better? It already has two phenomenal leads lined up in Merritt Wever (Unbelievable, Godless) and Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Anna Karenina). Oh, did we mention Waller-Bridge will have a recurring role? See, told you it was something to look forward to.
Pack your bags, ’cause she has her own theater company in London
It’s official — we’re going to have to move. Waller-Bridge and longtime friend and writing partner Vicky Jones created the theater company DryWhite essentially so they’d have something to do when they were unemployed drama grads. Then, from that wellspring came Fleabag. And many other brilliant plays by Waller-Bridge, Jones and other emerging talents. Now, it’s based out of London’s Soho Theatre, where the original production of Fleabag still runs.
She’s been slapped by Olivia Colman (like, really slapped)
First of all, let’s mull over the fact that one screen can contain the combined star power of Colman and Waller-Bridge. The two actually met on the set of the 2011 biopic The Iron Lady, in which Colman starred as Margaret Thatcher’s daughter and Waller-Bridge had a bit part. They hit it off (ha, no pun intended), prompting Colman to effectively tell Waller-Bridge to give her a call if she ever wrote a part Colman could play.
Fast forward to Fleabag. Waller-Bridge originally had written the part of the godmother in the story as a smaller role. But for Colman, she decided to turn it into the godmother-you-love-to-hate. Colman loved that, saying, “I’d love to play a real bitch.” And, well, she took it to heart. As Waller-Bridge explained to Vulture in 2016, the pair’s fight scene was rather authentic. “She did whack me really hard. It was only once, but it was just so great to have that flush of red [on my cheek] and have the genuine reaction. Because even though I know it’s coming, it’s still pretty shocking when you’re slapped by a national treasure.”
A version of this story was originally published in September 2019.