One of the better characters (for the men) on BBC America’s excellent series Killing Eve is that of Konstantin Vasiliev played by actor Kim Bodnia. He is the paternal and pragmatic handler of Villanelle (Jodie Comer) who had a falling out so to speak with his childlike lethal weapon at the end of season one.
Tonight’s episode, Desperate Times, is a happy reunion of the peanut butter and chocolate of high functioning assassination for pay, Konstanin and Villanelle.
Their path back to each other has created not only a heightened sense of urgency to capture Villanelle, but also Konstantin who has really put Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) in a bind with her immediate superiors at MI6.
Mind you that Martens, too, still has a bit of a thing for Konstantin and he has not only put her professionally in the cross-hairs but has slightly cracked her veneer of calm cool collectedness.
Konstantin is part of the higher-ups working for the mysterious Twelve, the clandestine group which hires these assassins to dispatch prominent people throughout Europe.
A watcher, he was schooled and came up in the KGB and has ways of seeing the truth immediately, sussing out what needs to be done and what the mission needs.
His pragmatic approach to handling Villanelle, a volatile and unpredictable show off of a killing machine, is tempered by gallows humor and a strong sense of what to say and when. He is immune to her charms and gets her completely. He knows full well exactly how dangerous Villanelle is, how valuable an asset she is and how to manage her.
Except when the equation variables change on him with her sudden interest and growing obsession with MI6 investigator Eve Polastri, which is when Villanelle’s behavior went off the rails.
His work is completely buffered from his home life, as we find out his family and home-life are sacrosanct, and this season we see how MI6 leader Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw), a former lover, is still drawn to him and was trying to pull him away from the Twelve to help them.
Danish actor Kim Bodnia has cut his teeth on meaty, noir Scandinavian dramatic fare, making a mark in The Bridge (FX adapted for American audiences in a two-year run, setting it in Mexico and the border). He was also cast in the 2014 film Rosewater, Jon Stewart’s adaptation of Maziar Bahari’s memoir Then They Came for Me.
Bodnia has mastered bringing the heaviness of the material blended with an absurdist eye and twist for a unique comedic effect that never dilutes the gravity of his scripted scenes. His Konstantin is pragmatic, compartmental with his work and professional life, warm, chilling and paternal, all at the same time.
We spoke to Kim last week about how wonderful it is to see Konstantin and Villanelle back together again.
Monsters and Critics: The women seem to be dominating in every aspect as far as the action and behind the scenes, but you really stand out in a most wonderful way. You character’s delightful. How did [showrunner] Phoebe (Waller-Bridge) find you?
Kim Bodnia: Ah, yeah, exactly. How did she find me, I mean, when she was young and wanted to be an actress, I met her on the street in London. And she was together with a boyfriend that I was working with. And that’s the way she find me. And, yeah it was interesting yeah. And then she became the, you know, huge star and a big writer and I became a fantastic actor and then we meet up and there’s Killing Eve. [laughs] Isn’t that wonderful?
M&C: Jodie Comer, your chemistry with her is just off the charts. And it’s not a sexual chemistry. It’s a very paternal, father-daughter chemistry. Talk about it.
Kim Bodnia: Yes. Isn’t that funny? It is like that! And I was sure that we needed that from the beginning, and she was sure that we needed that too. So it was so lovely that we could relax in each other’s company. Father-daughter, how lovely can that be… you know?
You accept things so much, and you finding the love and the chemistry very, very easily when you have these kind of feelings for each other. That was so cool when we looked at each other and looked at each other eyes… and saying that’s actually what’s going to happen.
M&C: Your character compartmentalizes very well. Your family life, off-limits from this shadowy world. And then you have your charge, Villanelle. They say that the KGB, there’s always someone who watches someone else. In, and you’re watching her…
Kim Bodnia: Exactly. It’s, it is like a mystery where you are and what you see, but I’m actually seeing all the time. So, that’s wonderful for me to follow her traveling even if I’m not there.
And follow the script developing and where she’s moving. I’m reading that, so I can really understand where she is, and still forget about it so I can be surprised.
So I’m actually not knowing what she’s going to handle over, you know. So… It’s a very funny game.
M&C: You have stolen her away from the Twelve and Raymond (Adrian Scarborough), her sadistic new handler…is he now gunning for Konstantin too?
Kim Bodnia: Yes definitely! You’re right. I don’t like that, and I don’t like the way, you know, people treating her [Villanelle] like that because they don’t understand her and it’s actually dangerous for her because if they don’t understand her and they don’t like her way of behavior, she can be in danger. And that’s my concern.
My biggest concern now is that they gave her Raymond. You know? Even if I’m laughing about it…it’s like, oh my God. I really hope that for me it’s a safety net that I’m back [in business] with her.
M&C: Yes, and you grasped her obsession with Eve so beautifully.
Kim Bodnia: Yes. I really adore this writing… about women. And from the beginning, I was like, “this is what I’m supporting. ” And as a supporting actor I really adore that love story they have and I am really enjoying their going deeper into it.
And it’s so complex and it’s so dangerous for all of us around them, you know? Because love can go everywhere and people’s behavior can be so unpredictable. You never know what’s happening. And it’s so funny to play with. So I’m really enjoying that.
M&C: Carolyn Martens… I feel like there’s some unrequited love…one-sided on her part. And you’re kind of toying with her and using her and her good graces. She really loves his company.
Kim Bodnia: Yes. Exactly. You really got the point there. I mean, that’s exactly what that scene was about and what I also like to play with, these kind of, behind feelings that you using that skill, that they don’t know that.
You know, that’s wonderful… you can set things up that they don’t know the ending of it. That’s wonderful.
M&C: Carolyn Martens could be quite dangerous to you, she’s a wild card for Konstantin. As far as your safety, I don’t know if you feel that.
Kim Bodnia: Yes, You really got the point here. I mean, you really know, she is intelligent. She is very clever woman, and she’s very strong and she, when she go for something she really going for it. And it’s so dangerous for me.
So my behavior is always I am toeing the line when I’m with her. You know? Maybe that’s why I’m laughing so much when I with her, because it’s dangerous. But you’re right, it is… yes.
M&C: What does your character make of Eve?
Kim Bodnia: Yes, I mean, it’s a fantastic balance between winning her trust and it seems from the beginning that actually she didn’t like me at all. She didn’t hesitate to not to show it. She was very, she actually said it.
So, of course, it’s like, it’s always a big game. But for me, it was like winning her trust was very important in this. In this season. So I really like her, I have to like her you know?
Because if I’m showing that I don’t like her she can’t trust me. So, I really have to work with all what actually going on and my sense, that feeling about her, I have to forget everything and then start in a new way of thinking, that we really need her. We really need Eve. So that’s my background. Yes.
M&C: Switching gears a bit. In your opinion, what Swedish or Danish shows, that you’re familiar with, would translate well here and are ripe for being remade?
Kim Bodnia: It’s always a good question about remakes and also about if you are not painting in your way, and take the right colors and paint it with your colors, it can be dangerous, you know?
So it’s very difficult to say what [adaptations] will work and not will work. It really depends on if you catch up at how we actually working and how much actors and writers is actually working together to find on set, it can be difficult you know.
Because then you following the script and that’s not what we doing all the time. So it’s a balance of taking it in. But I can’t really say what will work or not work. And I let it be to the people who understand that.
M&C: Of all the roles that you’ve had in the past, which is the one that you wish American audiences could discover like on Netflix or Hulu…Would it be your character Martin Rohde from The Bridge?
Kim Bodnia: Oh, yes, definitely. I love The Bridge. I mean, I was so connected with The Bridge from the beginning. And the writing and everything, and that was you know, that was my little television baby.
And I adore the work with the Swedish people together with the Danish workers, it was brilliant that we had these connections between each other. And so I would say yes, The Bridge. Definitely.
M&C: Where do you consider home now?
Kim Bodnia: Oh, that’s a good question. Home is actually in our hearts. And in our belief that families are so strong together. And the ground is, because I’m traveling to so many places in the world all the time, that the ground is just… You land on the ground and you have to behave how the nature [of it] wants you to behave. And, be together with people.
So, it’s the love that actually in the heart, that’s actually is driving my way. Now, I really wanted to come over to the [United] States and be there more and more, you know?
Right from the beginning when I did my first movie, called The Night Watch, they remake it over in Hollywood. So I was there when I was 28 years old and it was amazing. And I have many friends there. So, I’m just so happy that Killing Eve came out. I can probably come over and do some work over in the US, I really want to do that. So. That’s my next move, you know.
M&C: Reverting back to Konstantin real quick, who does your character fear the most in this teleplay? Is it Eve? Is it Villanelle? Is it Carolyn Martens? Is it Raymond?
Kim Bodnia: Wow, that’s a fantastic question. That’s a marvelous question … Wow. That’s a serious question. Because that’s actually what I’m working on all the time. I mean, there’s so many people who really want Konstantin dead. And the problem is that actually everywhere I’m going, I have to be careful.
So, there is so many people I’m scared of. In the show, we have a scene, all of the characters there is, behind everything. Yet…Because you choose somebody here, it’s a…. oh I dare not to say it. I dare not to say it. I cannot say that. I can’t tell you. Maybe later we talk to each other. Maybe. But it is a fantastic question. Thank you for asking that question.
M&C: Will your character be in season three or not?
Kim Bodnia: Ah, I can definitely not tell you that. Not even as a friend… that’s a big problem, you know? I have to have all these secrets.
M&C: I get it. Your KGB training has served you well.
Kim Bodnia: [Laughs] Yeah! Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
Killing Eve airs Sundays at 8/7c on BBC America.