Modern media loves a quirky, headstrong woman—so writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge was destined to catch the public eye. She’s been wracking up both public and critical acclaim with TV shows like Killing Eve and Fleabag, while also showing off her talents in side projects like Solo. With cutting wit, regal aplomb, and hilarious honesty, Waller-Bridge is in high demand in the film and TV industries, both as a performer and a creator. Read on to learn more about this formidable funny-woman.
1. She’s Just Good at TV
Fleabag is not the only show Phoebe Waller-Bridge has both written and starred in. She’s also the creator and lead performer in the Channel 4 sitcom Crashing.
2. Jack of All Trades
When Phoebe Waller-Bridge gets involved in a project, it seems she can’t resist wearing as many hats as possible. In addition to being a writer on Killing Eve, she was also the showrunner, developer, and an executive producer for the thriller show’s first season.
3. Straight A’s
Where Phoebe Waller-Bridge goes, acclaim follows. Both Fleabag and Killing Eve were named by The Guardian as two of the best TV series of the 21st century to date.
4. Good Morning, America!
Waller-Bridge is crossing the Atlantic! She’s moving from London to New York City, moving into a fancy new apartment with her boyfriend Martin McDonagh.
5. A Tragic Lack of Ability
Waller-Bridge is undeniably multi-talented–but there are some things she can’t do that cause her much chagrin. In an interview with The Guardian, Waller-Bridge said it’s a tragedy that she can’t burp on command or make farting noises with her armpit.
6. Hey, I Know Her!
Waller-Bridge’s body of work is wide and varied. She can be spotted on the TV series The Café and Broadchurch, and her film work includes Albert Nobbs, The Iron Lady, and Goodbye Christopher Robin.
7. Oh No, She’s an Artist
Waller-Bridge did not come from theatrical roots. Her father, Cyprian Waller-Bridge, is the founder of Tradepoint, an electronic trading platform, while her mother, Theresa Mary Waller-Bridge (née Clerke), works for a livery company called the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. It doesn’t get more British than that!
Worshipful Company of Ironmongers
8. Bow Before Her Ladyship
Before getting real-people jobs, the Waller-Bridges were the landed gentry of Cuckfield, Sussex! These members of the British aristocracy generally lived entirely off rental income, being the owners of large stretches of land.
9. Illustrious Ancestry
The portrait hall of Waller-Bridge’s well-to-do ancestors includes The Reverend Sir Egerton Leigh, 2nd Baronet, who served as the Conservative MP for Mid Cheshire from 1873 until his death (which happened in 1876, so not a super extensive run). Also, the Waller-Bridges probably don’t actually have a portrait hall, but you never know with these nobility-types.
10. Mum Ain’t Peasantry Neither
Sure, dad’s side has Egerton, but Waller-Bridge’s mother also had some fancy folk. Her maternal grandfather was Sir John Edward Longueville Clerke, 12th Baronet of Hitcham, Buckinghamshire.
11. A Brood of Creatives
While there don’t seem to be any notable artists in their ancestry, Waller-Bridge and her siblings made up for lost time. Phoebe’s brother, Jasper, is a music manager, and her composer sister Isobel actually wrote the music for Fleabag!
12. Learnèd Lady
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is an alumnus of London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. RADA has given the world many notable actors, including Vivien Leigh, Fiona Shaw, Sean Bean, and the school’s current president, Kenneth Branagh.
13. Move Over, Shakespeare
Although she’s more widely known for her screenwriting, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is also a playwright, and her stage works have been very successful.
14. The Show Must Go On! (On TV This Time)
One of Waller-Bridge’s most successful plays was…Fleabag! No, that’s not a typo; before being adapted into a TV series, Fleabag was a one-woman show. First performed in 2013, it even had an Off-Broadway revival with a completely sold-out run.
15. Just the Beginning
There’s even more Waller-Bridge to come! After her momentous Emmy wins, Amazon made a $20 million a year deal with Waller-Bridge to create and produce more TV content.
There was a shot-for-shot French remake of Fleabag called Mouche (meaning “Fly,” like the annoying house-bug). It featured much of the same content (guinea pigs, cutting wit, #stepmomproblems), but ultimately people missed Waller-Bridge’s idiosyncrasy and the show didn’t do terribly well.
17. Critically Acclaimed; Like, as a Human
Critics love Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Her performance in Fleabag earned her the British Academy Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance, and she was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
18. Theatrical Companionship
When Waller-Bridge and her friend, Vicky Jones, were struggling to get work out of theatre school, they created Drywrite Theatre Company. The company, with Jones and Waller-Bridge as co-artistic directors, puts on plays at Soho Theatre in London.
19. Killing It
Keep the nominations coming! Her writing on Killing Eve got Waller-Bridge a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
20. Up Next on “Phoebe’s a Genius…”
HBO has ordered a series from Waller-Bridge and Jones! Called Run, it’s about two former lovers who made a pact to run away together if ever one of them texted the word “RUN.” Yes, Waller-Bridge will have a recurring role on the show, and her Goodbye Christopher Robin co-star Domhnall Gleeson is set to star.
21. Married and Unmarried
Waller-Bridge’s former husband was documentary filmmaker Conor Woodman. They married in 2014, then separated and filed for divorce three years later. It was finalized in 2018.
22. Who Says Romance is Dead?
Waller-Bridge wasted no time wallowing after her divorce. Since 2018, she’s been in a relationship with playwright-director Martin McDonagh, who directed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges. If they co-wrote, they could really make some magic happen.
23. Infamous English Warmth
Waller-Bridge has described herself as having an “aversion to sentimentality” (so please don’t hug her when you ask for a selfie). By that same token, she’s also said what she really wants to write about is love and friendship, so she’s not all ice.
24. Fear of the Unknown
Her greatest fears while writing? The parts she didn’t have actors in mind for. Waller-Bridge says she gets really judgmental of her own work until she’s found the right person to play a part: “Because you have amazing actors coming to read for it, and if something’s not clicking, it can’t be them because they’re amazing actors.”
25. Thespian to the Core
Though she’s making a splash in film and television, Waller-Bridge’s first love is the stage. She says she loves the “live-ness” of an audience, and she feels that shared energy teaches you how to “do it better.”
26. Put Your Bits Away
Waller-Bridge isn’t a prude, per se. She’s “comfortable” talking about sex scenes “and stuff.” But she doesn’t like nudity or language that’s gratuitous, and has said her reaction to that is, “Oh! Put it away!”
27. Betrayal and Quarrels and Death, Oh My!
Waller-Bridge uses her own worst fears as inspiration for her writing. Not spiders and clowns—real fears. She has specifically cited losing a loved one, broken families, and friends committing an unforgivable betrayal. Yikes.
28. Comedy Night at Downton Abbey
When Waller-Bridge unsuccessfully auditioned for Downton Abbey, she had mostly been playing comedic roles, and vowed to give her most heart-wrenching, sincere performance. This was met by someone on the panel saying, “We had no idea she was so [effing] hilarious!” Some people just can’t help being funny.
29. Schmoozing With the Higher-Ups
When filming The Iron Lady, Waller-Bridge met British treasure Olivia Colman and they really hit it off. Colman said to Waller-Bridge, “Let me know if you ever write anything I could be in,” and that invitation led to Colman playing the sharp-tongued Godmother on Fleabag.
30. She Can Take a Hit
To reiterate, Colman and Waller-Bridge are friends. But that didn’t stop Colman from slapping Waller-Bridge for real on an episode of Fleabag. Anything for the craft.
31. Emmys Come in Threes
In 2019, Waller-Bridge took home three Emmy Awards, all for Fleabag. In addition to Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, the show also won Outstanding Comedy Series as a whole!
32. You Were an Accident
Fleabag might never have happened if Waller-Bridge hadn’t been asked to do a 10-minute bit at the 2012 London Storytelling Festival, for which she begrudgingly developed the character that would become Fleabag. The rest, as they say, is history.
33. Double-O Seven
Waller-Bridge’s next project is the upcoming James Bond movie, No Time To Die. The current Bond, Daniel Craig, wanted Waller-Bridge on board to “punch up” the screenplay because he and his wife Rachel Weisz are such huge Fleabag fans.
34. Making Bond History
By working on the upcoming Bond film, Waller-Bridge is making 007 history; she will be the second woman to have a writing credit in the James Bond franchise.
35. Singing From the Heart
You need to be keenly aware of peoples’ behavior to write good comedy. In an interview with Vogue, Waller-Bridge shared the following observational wisdom: “You can tell a lot about a person based on how they conduct themselves in a karaoke session.” Truer words…
36. Collateral Damage
Many people have speculated that Waller-Bridge’s family served as inspiration for some of the unsavory content of her shows, and the resulting scrutiny of her family is her one regret about her career success.
37. Slaying SNL
Waller-Bridge hosted SNL on October 5, 2019. While the episode was described as mediocre, many critics agree that Waller-Bridge was hilarious.
38. Tongue So Far In Her Cheek It Comes Out Her Ear
As previously mentioned, Waller-Bridge has described herself as “prudish,” but you’d never know with her filter-less sense of humor. On SNL, she did a bit saying fans often ask if she’s similar to the “sexually depraved, foul-mouthed, and dangerous” main character of Fleabag. “And I always have to say to them, ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right.’”
39. Writer, Actress, and… Android?
There’s no denying that quirky characters demand to be played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. You may recognize her voice as the self-constructed droid navigator and robot-rights activist L3-37 in the Star Wars prequel movie, Solo.
40. An Actor Prepares (Or Not, Whatever)
A gifted actress, yes, but a Star Wars fan? Not so much. Waller-Bridge auditioned for the role of L3-37 having no idea what a droid was. In fact, she confessed on The Graham Norton Show that she’d never seen a Star Wars movie before joining the franchise.
41. Overstayed Welcome
Fleabag the play had another revival following the conclusion to the TV show. It was met with…lukewarm reviews. One reviewer commented, “After the TV show, the play felt like going to a gallery and looking at the artist’s sketchbooks. The show is just so much more developed, so the play can’t help but feel a little disappointing.” Womp womp!
42. Flirting With the Duchess
Waller-Bridge met Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at a women of the world event, where she described Killing Eve as having a lot of “girl on girl action.” She was flustered until Camilla came back with, “Well, we all like a bit of that, don’t we?”