Fantastic to have women run the good and bad in 'Killing Eve', says Fiona Shaw

London: Veteran actor Fiona Shaw says the reason behind the success of "Killing Eve" is the show's three strong female leads who don't play women of "virtue".

The 60-year-old actor stars as the head of the Russia Section at MI6, Carolyn Martens in the spy thriller series from BBC America, a role for which she won the best supporting actress BAFTA this year, her first.

"Killing Eve" also features psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) in the critically-acclaimed series.

Shaw said playing women who may or may not be morally abiding was a "fantastic" opportunity.

"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. 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's fantastic to have that opportunity," she told the Daily Star Sunday newspaper.

Shaw said the show explores society's "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," she added.

Shaw said the unpredictability of the characters is the USP of the show.

"You never know what the characters are thinking. There's always the potential of great charm but the characters are not vulnerable to the charms of humour.

"They can be quite hostile with humour and nothing is very clear. It's the ambiguity that is the permanent knife edge on which the show works," she said.

Last month, "Killing Eve" was renewed for a third run, with Suzanne Heathcote attached as showrunner.

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