Killing Eve exclusive interview: Edward Bluemel on the new character Hugo and who he’s really rooting for

Edward Bluemel is Hugo, the man-boy who everyone will love to hate on Killing Eve
Edward Bluemel is Hugo, the man-boy who everyone will love to hate on Killing Eve. Pic credit: BBCA

On BBC America’s breakout hit that made our best TV list for 2018, Killing Eve, a newcomer has been added to the cast and he is really annoying to his MI6 office mates Eve (Sandra Oh) and Kenny (Sean Delaney).

Edward Bluemel stars as Hugo, a twenty-something man-boy who is used to getting what he wants, who now serves in the major counter-terrorism department in MI6. Posh and entitled, he gets under Kenny’s skin from the get-go.

In season 2 of BBCA’s critically acclaimed series all based on the Codename Villanelle novellas by Luke Jennings, we see the fallout of the attempted murder of Villanelle by Oh’s character Eve, who is now on the run, much to Eve’s relief and dismay.

The tenacity of Villanelle is on full display as she survives what could have been a fatal stab wound in her bid to live and to get Eve, but not necessarily to kill her. There’s a lot of complicated feelings this season!

What’s not complicated is the addition of Ed Bluemel’s Hugo, the poster boy for posh 1 percenters, who is someone new that Eve (Oh) must navigate around in her office life.

Bluemel joins a stellar cast along with Oh that includes Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Owen McDonnell, Sean Delaney and Nina Sosanya.

This English actor has cut his teeth mightily on stage in notable roles and has another TV series debuting in the USA tonight (A Discovery Of Witches) that was already a huge hit green-lit for Seasons 2 and 3 in the UK.

To say this Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama grad from Taunton (England) is on fire is an understatement.

We spoke to Ed ahead of his two big American TV premieres tonight:

Monsters and Critics: Are you living in Wales right now, or are you back in Taunton, or are you in New York?

Edward Bluemel: So I am, at the moment, I’m in South London. Which is where I’ve lived with four friends of mine for about three years.

M&C: You’re from an accomplished family and you were sort of the runner. Your mom and dad are academics, as are your sister and brother, yet you went, “I’m going to acting school” – How did that go over?

Ed Bluemel: Yes, it actually went very smoothly. I think my parents were sort of relieved that somebody was going to buck the trend, which is nice, because… nobody hates a family [more] where everyone’s been to Oxford or Cambridge, so it was nice for me to do something different.

And they were always very supportive, which is nice. I was very lucky that they were sort of in a way very much behind me, which is good. They’re very proud.

M&C: Alright, as they should be, your work is excellent. You’ve got a lot of theater under your belt for someone your age, but now you’re really making this huge mark in television, and especially so, because Killing Eve, and A Discovery of Witches, have something in common in that they’re British productions, but they’re really straddling the pond.

Killing Eve season one was a huge success in America. And A Discovery of Witches is about to be discovered by Americans. So that’s exciting.

Ed Bluemel: Yes. You Americans are going to get bored of me on the telly (TV) for two hours every week because it’s like… I’ve been so lucky that I’ve been able to be involved in two shows that were sort of versatile enough to be successful in two countries.

Well, I mean, I hope that Discovery of Witches is as successful in America as it was here!

But yes, I’m very lucky. I never thought it would go like this. But to be able to work on something like Killing Eve, that’s sort of established has being so brilliant. It’s amazing.

M&C: Yeah. Let’s talk about Killing Eve and your character Hugo. He’s sort of a snotty guy and Kenny hates him. Discuss…

Ed Bluemel: He is at the bottom of the ladder at MI6, he’s just joined. He’s been working there a few months maybe. He’s come straight from Oxford University.

He comes from a very privileged background. He’s sort of old money, he’s been presumably to Eton before going to Oxford, and he’s the sort of person that we’ve seen so many times in espionage dramas, spy dramas, all thrillers, working in these sort of capacities.

We’re so used to seeing James Bond and things like that. These sort of posh, educated men who were there to talk about communists and stuff. So, he’s sort of a young one of them. And I think what’s really exciting about portraying him in the show is, Killing Eve as a show is the complete opposite for that.

It sort of bucks the trend completely, of what a spy drama should be like and I think what’s interesting, is that now, in this second series, we’re seeing Hugo thrown in amongst it, like a sort of spanner (wrench) in the works. Which is great fun to play. It’s fun being the spanner (wrench).

M&C: It’s interesting to see you in scene with Sandra Oh (the titular “Eve”) because most Americans really don’t understand the subtleties in English society and culture of language. To some extent, there is that here, but not on the level that you guys have. She’s sort of like, quite nonplussed and almost deadpan with you, you’re just this new thing, this new shiny thing in the office, and she’s just kind of navigating you.

Ed Bluemel: Yes, and I think that’s sort of why, Hugo becomes so interested and attracted to her, this sort of thing that she doesn’t know… This great description of the character. When I first got it, it just said, ‘nobody’s ever said no to Hugo in his life.’

And then, I think what happened is, he comes up against this sort of adversary in the office, Eve, who, just like you said, those subtleties just don’t register necessarily with someone who’s not British.

She just treats him normally, happy to take the piss out of him, happy to completely ignore him, and I think that only spurs Hugo on, because then he wants approval, and then he also wants to undermine her more and more, and see if he can bait some sort of reaction out of her.

M&C: What do you think the source of Kenny’s dislike is? I mean, I would assume that he is also from really good schools. I mean, Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) is his mother, and she’s running this office for MI6, so I’m sure he went to good schools too. But what’s the friction between Kenny and your character, Hugo?

Ed Bluemel: I think the school connection is probably a huge part of it. I doubt that they would have gone to the same school or anything, but I think Kenny definitely had the same upbringing, but at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

So Kenny probably has grown up with these sorts of boys at his school, who are arrogant, who consistently get their own way, who don’t work hard, but somehow still get good results. Who are sort of the loudest in the room, always cracks the funniest joke in the room, and that, I think, is completely what Kenny absolutely hates.

He’s [Kenny] very hard working, he’s very quiet, he’s not necessarily the most sociable, and I think they’re sort of polar opposites. I reckon that Kenny thought that when he started working at MI6, he had got rid of these people forever, and he could work in a nice quiet office with a computer, and not be bothered.

And then suddenly, Hugo comes sauntering in with his signet ring and his stripey shirt, making sexual jokes, and it’s like everything that Kenny hates. So there’s naturally friction.

M&C: Your character never really crosses paths with Villanelle (Jodie Comer), just Eve (Sandra Oh).

Ed Bluemel: No, he doesn’t, which is good for him, really. So generally these characters, you cross paths with her, it doesn’t go very well. So I was lucky in that sense, also very unlucky because I would have loved to have done some scenes or some action with Jodie because she’s awesome. I got to meet her on set, which was also lovely.

M&C: Who are you rooting for? Villanelle or Eve?

Ed Bluemel: I think what’s so good about the show is you feel guilty for it but you’re sort of rooting for them both.

They feel so connected. I feel like, almost in a way, the show is the two of them versus the rest of the world and in that case, then I’m definitely rooting for the two of them.

They’re both so brilliant in different ways. They’re so flawed, funny but also totally opposite. I think it’s really hard to choose between them.

Every time I think one character is my favorite character, there’ll be a scene with the other one and I’m like, “Oh now, no, no maybe it’s her.”

Yeah, they’re both so brilliant. I do feel like they almost come as a pair despite sort of the cat and mouse aspect there. I feel like they’re very much the two of them.

M&C: Are we going to have Hugo for season three, on Killing Eve?

Ed Bluemel: Not sure yet, nothing’s confirmed. I would love to see him back, but we’ll have to wait and see, I think.

What is Killing Eve about?

Sarah Oh and Jodie Comer in Killing Eve
Killing Eve returns to BBC America in April. Pic credit: BBC America

Killing Eve centers on two women. An American working abroad, Eve (Oh) is a bored, whip-smart, security services operative whose desk-bound job doesn’t cut it for her secret ambitions of being a field spy.

Villanelle (Comer) is Russian by birth but a damaged child of the world. Fluent in many languages and utterly void of empathy, she is an elegant, talented killer who loves the finer things in life, little and large luxuries made accessible by her lucrative gig as a hired assassin.

This is a focused, noir-ish dramedy about two fiercely intelligent women who admire each other’s skills and who are drawn together in a dangerous cat and mouse chase across Europe.

Killing Eve Season 2 premieres Sunday, April 7 at 8/7c on BBC America and AMC.

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