News

Audacious Storytelling, Foxes, and Fabulous Hair: Fleabag Star Andrew Scott on the Delights of Season 2

Professor Moriarty from Sherlock/Spectre's C dons a priest's collar to contend with Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag.

by | May 17, 2019 | Comments

Irish actor Andrew Scott is arguably most recognizable to U.S. audiences for malevolent characters: classic literary villain Professor Moriarty opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in TV’s Sherlock, as cruel psychiatrist Dr. Addison Bennet in Alice Through the Looking Glass, and as duplicitous government agent C in James Bond film Spectre.

So seeing Scott turn up as a priest in Amazon series Fleabag understandably may result in immediate suspicion of the character. The series’ history of revealing unexpected core character flaws might also set viewers’ expectation levels to yellow ― “exercise caution” ― when it comes to investing in this new player on Fleabag’s scene. Plus: Fleabag.

“It’s original and audacious storytelling,” Scott says of the series created and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a star rapidly ascending with a scene-stealing turn as the voice of robot L3-37 in Solo: A Star Wars Story and as executive producer and creator of award-winning BBC America series Killing Eve. Waller-Bridge was also tapped by Bond himself, Daniel Craig, to inject her distinctive comedic voice into the script of the upcoming film from director Cary Fukunaga.

Scott this week also appeared — ranting with a gun — in the first trailer for season 5 of Netflix sci-fi anthology hit Black Mirror. We’re eager to find out what delirium awaits us there, but in the meantime, we’re savoring his performance in Fleabag season 2, which is reliably unexpected.

The season is Certified Fresh at 100% with 43 reviews at publication and is being lauded by critics with lines like: “A portrait of grief, fear, and love that’s startling, painful, achingly funny, unbearably sexy, pretty much perfect, and somehow better than the first season. It is a marvel. It should not exist.” (Allison Shoemaker, RogerEbert.com).

We spoke to Scott about these strange, beautiful, tragic, hilarious sketches of humanity and what it was like to inhabit one of them.


Andrew Scott in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

Debbie Day for Rotten Tomatoes: Throughout the season, as a viewer, I think you keep asking yourself, “Is this love or is this insanity?”

Scott: I think both those things can exist at the same time. (Laughs). I think a lot of the time, people’s experiences of love are exactly that. I think that question, “Is this love or is this insanity?,” can nearly be applied to everything or relationship, because it is insane to go through that experience — it’s insane. That’s exactly it. As the Priest says in that sermon (in the series): It’s this extraordinary thing, it makes you crazy, and makes you do all these things that you never imagined you would be, both good and bad. I think Phoebe’s great talent is to be able to hold two things in exactly the same thing. I love the fact that it’s funny and tragic at the same time. I like that the idea of being vulnerable and being powerful exists in the same scene. It’s all the things … it’s very fluid, and I think that’s why people have responded to it so much, that’s what makes such great television, is that feeling of nuance, because the lack of nuance is the death of great art.


Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Andrew Scott in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

After season 1, I think viewers are hoping for some redemption for Fleabag, and at the beginning of the new season, here’s this priest and ― whether you believe or not ― you may hope that she finds something to hold on to, but she chooses the same sort of destructive path.

Scott: You think it’s destructive?

I think she makes another bad choice for herself. You want to believe in love, and you want to believe that people will choose love, but when you get involved with someone who’s not really available ―

Scott: Yeah.


Andrew Scott in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

How did you approach your character, seeing this dynamic in the scripts? What did you think of him at first when you read it?

Scott: We talked about, when we first spoke about this relationship between the two of them, was how do you play love, and what should we expect from our television characters? And there’s not one of us who have not made bad choices ― I even sort of hesitate to use the word “bad” ― you make choices that aren’t necessarily going to provide you with a lifelong relationship.

But I do think they have an immediate connection with each other, and that happens in life, too, and for me, the priest is flawed and he definitely is very conflicted, and I believe he is also very much in love.

Sometimes people of the church are depicted as asexual or that they’re not interested in or have no thoughts or feelings of intimacy regarding sex, and that just can’t be true, because that’s not true for any human. We all have a relationship with sex. And love. Even if you’re asexual, you still have a sort of attitude towards it. I think that’s a very interesting thing from my perspective about what actually do you do? What do you do with your sexuality?


Andrew Scott in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

Scott (cont.): I think sometimes in drama, we’re told what we’re supposed to feel because we make these sort of cartoonish characters, and I think the reason that Fleabag is unique, is that we don’t. Sometimes they do things that are cruel and selfish, and sometimes they’re very vulnerable, and sometimes powerful. And sometimes they’re abusive and sometimes they’re incredibly loving and kind. And that suggestion is in us all.

I think it’s a sort of lack of judgment and the fact that we can do that through comedy makes it special.

The Priest is obviously so conflicted, and he has a problem with alcohol. Was that built in before he met her, or is that something he recently adopted?

Scott: His relationship with alcohol is not healthy. It was sort of important not to overstate that in a sense ―let the audience do some work ― but I definitely think he has a longstanding unhealthy relationship with alcohol, like a lot of people.


Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

I’m going to be careful about spoilers, because the relationship is built on these very special moments, but the first “fox talk,” I think, might also be the first time he asked her, “Where’d you go?” when she breaks the fourth wall and looks at the audience. Did you guys talk about what her behavior in that moment would look like to him?

Scott: The most important thing was, it’s a deep connection. I think it shows how connected he is to her. I think they’re both quite solitary characters, and Fleabag’s friend is the audience…and the relationship with the audience is sometimes helpful and sometimes destructive, and sometimes a way of just avoiding a life and relieving power. And the fact that he’s able to see that, and solely him — he’s the only character who can see that — speaks to me, not just as sort of “exciting television” or kind of convention, but just the idea that he, he sees her, he sees all of her, and he wants it from when they first spoke, he wants to talk about this extraordinary love. For my money, I feel like, they almost love each other right from the get go. I think they are definitely intrigued by each other and that sort of deepens, and I think they don’t really know what it is. Like a lot of us when we first meet somebody that you connect to and you think, Well, is it love, or is it insanity?


Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

The café scene is also a very special moment. It was so real and very intense. First, does he see her behavior as mental illness? And is that tension built into the writing or is it something that gets fleshed out when you’re working the scene?

Scott: It’s built to a certain degree into the writing. Phoebe and I have got a great chemistry going, and so I think we just sort of saw what happens on that day. Phoebe’s very playful in that sense, in the relationship … At the beginning and certainly in that scene, it really genuinely is what it is “Where are you going?” I don’t think he knows, but it’s like “What is it that you’re doing?” And I think we can all sort of relate to that to a certain degree. When people are, to a certain degree are unknowable, and you go, “What is that thing? What is that look on your face?”

Because the idea of playing with the format of breaking fourth wall is so exciting — I find it really exciting that that’s developed in the second series … There’s a sort of metaphysical sort of vibe in the second series of pictures falling off walls and foxes following you at night … A little bit like love, it’s completely unknowable if you’re serious, and so it’s hard to answer those questions. And the only thing we really do is to dramatize the question, rather than try to nail them down too much, because that then it becomes less interesting drama.


Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag season 2 (Credit: Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

(Photo by Steve Schofield/Amazon Prime)

Speaking of the storytelling, the fox detail of the story is the kind of quirky detail that you don’t see very often in film and in television. What are your thoughts on the writing for this series?

Scott: I think the writing is extraordinary. I think somebody’s hair looking amazing the day of their mum’s funeral, or somebody wearing really tight jeans to the funeral, or a fox trying to break into a toilet, and you know, partnered with scenes about death and loss and pain, I think it’s just so extraordinary, that she writes with such flair and such imagination and boldness, that’s really a thing that I want to watch on TV. And to be part of it is really exciting ― it’s original and audacious storytelling. And that has to start with the writing, and I think she’s not afraid of the grand gesture and to push the boundaries of how we tell our stories. And I think that’s why people really respond to her work, because, juxtaposed to that, is a great sense of humanity, fun, and a kind of kindness. I’m truly in awe of her imagination, really.

Fleabag season 2 is now streaming on on Amazon Prime.

Tag Cloud

slashers 2019 Rock Marvel Studios kong mission: impossible dramedy italian Fantasy finale CMT Lifetime Christmas movies streaming movies Thanksgiving Elton John IFC Films game show Drama BAFTA sitcom Pet Sematary green book nfl all-time Star Wars spy thriller Sneak Peek robots Super Bowl Musical Quiz See It Skip It game of thrones free movies Western comiccon transformers films Christmas FOX aapi screen actors guild The Walt Disney Company FX on Hulu cults comic Superheroe comic book movie ratings sag awards king kong psychological thriller Holiday Oscars Shondaland based on movie tv talk Paramount Network Sony Pictures marvel cinematic universe Red Carpet basketball comedies TBS Hear Us Out Spike what to watch National Geographic independent true crime dogs TCM crime thriller Black History Month Rocketman rotten movies we love Comic Book new star wars movies indie documentaries ABC die hard Star Trek Teen Calendar war book superman Film hispanic NBA archives 71st Emmy Awards Song of Ice and Fire Valentine's Day Discovery Channel 45 Comics on TV rom-coms X-Men australia Spring TV PlayStation know your critic PaleyFest TV renewals Watching Series singing competition scary movies universal monsters razzies worst movies Disney Plus DirecTV Box Office psycho video on demand Reality Disney streaming service zombies Walt Disney Pictures Mary Poppins Returns reviews international blaxploitation E! popular telelvision Family TV One Bravo Trailer Rocky Avengers historical drama video Toys Tarantino Universal Emmy Nominations TV movies HBO Max TCA 2017 VICE docudrama cancelled TV series cancelled fast and furious Certified Fresh NYCC WarnerMedia Netflix Amazon Prime LGBT sequels Crunchyroll golden globe awards The Witch Alien Peacock spanish adenture hidden camera 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards romance Pop Polls and Games deadpool serial killer Lionsgate saw Best and Worst ViacomCBS movies quibi Britbox SDCC doctor who YouTube Columbia Pictures Hallmark Christmas movies supernatural indiana jones science fiction TV Land talk show Showtime Television Critics Association south america ghosts christmas movies lord of the rings dceu heist movie football Amazon Prime Video Classic Film Holidays Ellie Kemper blockbusters Mary Tyler Moore cats Apple Writers Guild of America politics Tumblr diversity Podcast dragons anthology award winner japan facebook Disney+ Disney Plus king arthur IFC Turner Classic Movies zombie movie cars Music Travel Channel hispanic heritage month slasher chucky TCA olympics toy story Binge Guide best Marathons target Fall TV MTV Awards reboot 007 HBO Television Academy superhero El Rey Disney Channel gangster debate cops halloween Mary poppins franchise festival dc Year in Review Interview First Reviews LGBTQ Ghostbusters FX Exclusive Video Netflix Christmas movies ABC Signature President critics Kids & Family Character Guide A24 Nominations venice DC Comics American Society of Cinematographers Summer Pop TV Black Mirror anime docuseries spider-man Martial Arts Musicals Anna Paquin richard e. Grant mutant Nickelodeon crossover Countdown composers spain Turner Action VOD SXSW mockumentary First Look nbcuniversal Ovation Mudbound Creative Arts Emmys BET Awards marvel comics MSNBC Acorn TV werewolf spinoff obituary trailers comic books CBS All Access mcc remakes crime drama NBC dexter kids james bond rt archives Mindy Kaling versus E3 biography comics canceled FXX joker Sci-Fi justice league legend breaking bad festivals feel good Hallmark TV The Purge dark japanese renewed TV shows 2017 toronto RT History travel zero dark thirty DC streaming service Amazon Sundance Now aliens sports elevated horror cartoon Election YouTube Red harry potter SundanceTV TCA Winter 2020 casting Horror OneApp Stephen King TruTV Grammys Pixar Video Games Legendary 2021 Sundance TV Cosplay adventure Paramount Plus RT21 Photos binge Fox News TNT pirates of the caribbean 72 Emmy Awards canceled TV shows MCU revenge criterion TLC The Academy Academy Awards Freeform book adaptation USA rotten posters emmy awards biopic series space Marvel Television Marvel golden globes monster movies Extras TIFF Broadway Food Network Reality Competition nature jamie lee curtis Adult Swim Pride Month Paramount Wes Anderson Endgame kaiju scene in color Biopics CW Seed Sundance Winners Comedy Central Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt prank unscripted The Walking Dead technology HBO Go critic resources 1990s Tomatazos foreign comic book movies A&E stop motion The CW crime 2020 Chernobyl concert political drama Trivia GoT New York Comic Con women Superheroes BBC One period drama Women's History Month cooking Funimation hollywood new york live action Hulu Set visit ID Logo 73rd Emmy Awards strong female leads young adult french worst high school twilight The Arrangement Comic-Con@Home 2021 adaptation cinemax Crackle laika 2016 Fox Searchlight San Diego Comic-Con Trophy Talk CNN black CBS Apple TV+ sequel GIFs new zealand Amazon Studios GLAAD Country PBS a nightmare on elm street Masterpiece thriller fresh VH1 parents DGA Pacific Islander TCA Awards Winter TV stoner witnail BBC America AMC screenings news Premiere Dates Mystery cancelled TV shows children's TV BET boxoffice action-comedy blockbuster 21st Century Fox USA Network latino Film Festival Shudder classics Tubi Infographic 24 frames History Animation 20th Century Fox Emmys name the review wonder woman batman Starz teaser Rom-Com child's play Tokyo Olympics Image Comics YouTube Premium ABC Family boxing social media DC Universe OWN Disney Nat Geo Arrowverse 99% Baby Yoda Warner Bros. romantic comedy halloween tv 2015 royal family police drama Lucasfilm television Pirates medical drama 90s 4/20 BBC Spectrum Originals Syfy suspense vampires satire Epix Awards Tour animated spanish language Heroines Lifetime Vudu ITV theme song cancelled television Cartoon Network 93rd Oscars APB jurassic park directors rt labs Esquire natural history Schedule YA Apple TV Plus hist WGN disaster ESPN Opinion Dark Horse Comics godzilla Brie Larson discovery asian-american stand-up comedy Cannes Comedy Captain marvel streaming miniseries rt labs critics edition 2018 scorecard Chilling Adventures of Sabrina documentary