Fiona Shaw’s “Killing Eve” character, MI6 boss Carolyn Martens, has always been mysterious — but that will change in Season 3, premiering 9 p.m. Sunday on BBC America and AMC. “The audience gets to know Carolyn much more [this season],” Shaw, 61, tells The Post on the phone from her London home. “As you get …
Fiona Shaw’s “Killing Eve” character, MI6 boss Carolyn Martens, has always been mysterious — but that will change in Season 3, premiering 9 p.m. Sunday on BBC America and AMC.
“The audience gets to know Carolyn much more [this season],” Shaw, 61, tells The Post on the phone from her London home.
“As you get into a third season, the audience know the characters so well that it’s really important that they get a bit deeper down into those people,” she says. “The audience knows what they know — but they need to be fed new aspects of the characters. I think this season does that with everybody.”
The Emmy-nominated spy thriller follows the cat and mouse game between assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and ex-MI6 operative Eve (Sandra Oh). Season 2 saw Eve and Villanelle working together to take down a common enemy, but it ended on a tense note, with Villanelle shooting Eve and leaving her for dead.
But none of the drama would be possible without Carolyn pulling the strings.
“I like that she’s so intelligent and so witty and so powerful, and yet she’s full of flaws,” says Shaw, who earned an Emmy nod for the role. “I think she speaks the language of people well over their 40s and also appeals to people who are younger. She’s sort of the 20th century rolled into one. She’s obviously been trained by those post-Cold War operatives of MI6. And she’s very cool, but she’s not vain … she took Eve under her wing, which was a powerful thing to do. She’s a very generous person, in many ways.”
Shaw says she can’t say much about the plot of Season 3, but describes it as “darker.” She also says that Carolyn gets a new assistant who provides comic relief.
“The writing is so marvelous, and this season the story swerves,” she says. “Carolyn has a wonderful new assistant, Mo [played by Raj Bajaj], who is very funny. In some ways I think the story has darkened.”
The Irish-born Shaw — who splits her time between London and New York with her economist/writer wife, Sonali Deraniyagala — is known for the “Harry Potter” franchise (she played Petunia Dursley) and for her theater work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Broadway, and the National Theater — which provided an unlikely inspiration for her portrayal of Carolyn.
“In some respects, [Carolyn] is very like my boss at the National Theater — Baroness Jenny McIntosh,” Shaw says. “Jenny has a lot of the qualities that Carolyn has. I don’t try to make her iconic; I try to make her as intelligent and real as I possibly can. I like everything about her. It’s very interesting that she is not frightened of Villanelle, she’s not frightened of Eve. She’s a very unfrightened person.
“However, she also has to take on the seriousness of the various threats that come her way, so she’s a high-octane person,” she says. “When I was in New York playing Medea [on Broadway] that was also a high-octane person, but a more visceral one.”
Before her role in “Killing Eve,” Shaw didn’t have a personal interest in espionage stories — but she’s since dived into the genre, she says.
“I don’t think I ever went near a spy story. I have subsequently; I just recently read most of P.D. James, because I got interested in the detective idea of finding out who did what,” she says. “But not since adolescence was I was interested in detective literature … So in that way, it’s very refreshing for me to come off playing huge moral heroines, whether it’s Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ or ‘Medea’ or ‘Electra’ — and play somebody who doesn’t have that morality at all.
“That’s new territory for me.”