Who has not watched Fleabag or at least watched countless snippets from the series and wondered, “What show is this?“. The “I love you/ It will pass.” scene alone has made rounds around every corner of the internet; people were sharing it without even knowing where it came from! Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been thrust into our world with a one-of-a-kind show she created on her own. She cemented herself as a genius not just as a writer but as an actress and a creator.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become a tour de force in the entertainment industry, captivating audiences with her unique voice, sharp wit, and uncanny ability to tap into the human experience. As a writer, actress, and producer, Waller-Bridge has shown a remarkable range and depth in her work, earning her critical acclaim and a devoted fanbase. In this article, we delve into the life and career of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, exploring her major works, her impact on the industry, and what makes her a standout talent.
Early Life and Education
Born in July 1985 in London, Phoebe Waller-Bridge grew up in a creative household. Her father, Michael Waller-Bridge, founded the electronic music group Crystal Palace, while her mother, Theresa Waller-Bridge, worked for the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. Phoebe’s grandfather was an actor and BBC announcer, and her sister is a composer whom she collaborated with before.
With such a creative family rooted in entertainment, Phoebe was always encouraged to follow her dreams of acting and writing. And follow them she did!
Phoebe’s Education in the Arts
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s foundation in performing arts was solidified through her education, which played a pivotal role in shaping her as a writer and actress. She went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, a prestigious institution known for its rigorous training and emphasis on practical experience. During her time there, Waller-Bridge immersed herself in the world of performance, honing her skills in acting, writing, and stagecraft. The intensive program provided her with a comprehensive understanding of theatrical traditions, acting methodologies, and the art of storytelling.
This educational background laid the groundwork for her future successes, equipping her with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the entertainment industry. Waller-Bridge’s time at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art was instrumental in her development as an artist, fostering her passion for storytelling and her ability to create compelling, multi-dimensional characters.
Waller-Bridge made her acting debut in the theatre, performing in various plays before transitioning to television and film. Her early TV roles include appearances on shows like Bad Education and The Café, but it was her performance in the Channel 4 sitcom Crashing that began to turn heads.
Starting on the Stage
While Phoebe Waller-Bridge is widely recognised for her groundbreaking work in television and film, her roots in theatre are deep and formative. Her experiences on the stage have played a crucial role in shaping her unique voice, wit, and approach to storytelling. The stage was the start of her career and where she first found her unique voice.
Creation of Fleabag
Phoebe has taken part in many theatrical projects in her early days. However, the turning point in Waller-Bridge’s theatrical career came with the creation of Fleabag, a one-woman play that she wrote and performed. Being performed for the first time at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013, the play was a revelation! It instantly captivated audiences with its brutally honest and hilariously dark comedy of a young woman struggling with life, love, and loss.
Fleabag showcased Waller-Bridge’s exceptional writing and acting talents, earning her critical acclaim and setting the stage for her future successes. The play’s innovative narrative style, which included breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience, became a hallmark of Waller-Bridge’s work, showcasing her ability to create an intimate and engaging experience for audiences.
Broadway and Beyond
Following the success of Fleabag in Edinburgh, the play embarked on a UK tour, further cementing Waller-Bridge’s reputation as a formidable talent in the theatre world. The play eventually made its way to New York, where it had a run off-Broadway before transferring to Broadway in 2019.
The Broadway production of Fleabag was a triumph, receiving rave reviews and winning a special Tony Award. Waller-Bridge’s performance was particularly praised, with critics highlighting her ability to bring depth, nuance, and humanity to the character.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge takes on the Small Screen.
Now that she had cemented herself on the stage from London to New York, it was time for Waller-Bridge to try her luck on television, and she started with her baby, Fleabag. Shortly after its release, Fleabag became a cultural phenomenon, winning multiple Emmy Awards and garnering a global fanbase. Waller-Bridge’s writing and performance in the series were applauded for their authenticity, wit, and emotional depth.
Waller-Bridge further showcased her show-running and writing prowess with Killing Eve, a thrilling drama that subverts traditional gender roles and genre conventions. Killing Eve was also a huge success, winning multiple awards for Waller-Bridge as well as the cast and crew of the show. Let’s take a deeper look into both shows and how they shaped Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s career.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s work on Fleabag stands as a testament to her exceptional talents as a writer, actress, and creator. Initially conceived as a one-woman play, Fleabag was transformed under Waller-Bridge’s visionary guidance into a television series that captivated audiences worldwide.
As the creator, writer, and star, Waller-Bridge delivered a masterful exploration of the complexities of modern womanhood, embedding the narrative with her trademark wit, raw emotion, and unflinching honesty. The character of Fleabag, portrayed by Waller-Bridge herself, is a tour de force—a deeply flawed yet profoundly relatable figure navigating the challenges of life, love, and loss.
The show’s innovative use of direct address, where Fleabag breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, creates an intimate and engaging experience, allowing for moments of vulnerability and sardonic commentary to coexist seamlessly.
Fleabag garnered widespread critical acclaim, sweeping major awards, including six Emmy Awards, and solidifying Waller-Bridge’s status as one of the most influential voices in the entertainment industry. The series not only showcased Waller-Bridge’s unparalleled ability to tell compelling, nuanced stories but also cemented her legacy as a creator who defies conventions and pushes the boundaries of storytelling.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s work as the showrunner and head writer for season 1 of Killing Eve further solidified her reputation as a groundbreaking and innovative creative force in television. An adaptation of Luke Jennings’s Villanelle novel series, the show revolves around the intense cat-and-mouse chase between MI6 operative Eve Polastri and the enigmatic assassin Villanelle.
Waller-Bridge brilliantly infused the series with her signature wit, dark humour, and flair for complex female characters, creating a thrilling and subversive narrative that stood out in the crowded television landscape. She skillfully balanced high-stakes espionage and action with intricate character development and emotional depth, resulting in a series that was both exhilarating and profoundly human.
The show’s central relationship, marked by obsession and mutual fascination, broke new ground in its portrayal of female desire, agency, and power dynamics. Waller-Bridge’s sharp dialogue and unique perspective brought a fresh and exciting energy to the genre, challenging traditional tropes and expectations.
Killing Eve received critical acclaim, multiple award nominations, and a devoted fanbase, showcasing Waller-Bridge’s exceptional ability to craft compelling stories and create television that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Her work on Killing Eve not only pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the spy thriller genre but also left an indelible mark on the television industry, highlighting her status as a creator of immense talent and vision.
Time to Move to the Big Screen!
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s foray into cinema has proven her ability to excel beyond the realms of theatre and television, showcasing her versatile talent in the world of film. Notably, her work on No Time to Die, the 25th instalment in the James Bond franchise, marked a significant moment in her career and in the legacy of the series.
Hired to infuse the script with her unique voice and to bring a fresh, modern perspective, Waller-Bridge contributed to the evolution of the iconic character and the story’s relevance in today’s society. Her involvement ensured that the female characters were given more depth and agency, a progressive step forward in a franchise historically criticised for its portrayal of women. Her signature wit and ability to blend emotional depth with humour were evident in the film’s dialogue, bringing a nuanced touch to the action-packed narrative.
Apart from No Time to Die, Waller-Bridge’s on-screen presence in the film has also made a mark. Her part in Solo: A Star Wars Story as the droid L3-37 was met with praise for her comedic timing and the character’s advocacy for droid rights, adding a layer of social commentary to the film.
With her distinct voice and innovative approach, Waller-Bridge continues to push boundaries in cinema, contributing to the evolution of storytelling on the big screen. As she forges ahead in her career, her work in film stands as a testament to her wide-ranging talent and her commitment to creating authentic, impactful cinema.
And the Award Goes to
For someone who only created two television shows and wrote one film so far in her career, Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a plethora of awards! Her one-woman play, Fleabag, and Killing Eve have all been major successes in their own accords, earning Waller-Bridge many awards and critical acclaim through the years.
Her one-woman play, Fleabag, was the first to win Phoebe multiple awards. In 2014, she won the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright and The Off-West End Theatre Award for Best Female Performance and Most Promising New Playwright. Her play was also nominated for an Evening Standard Award and a Drama Desk Award.
A couple of years later, when Fleabag made it to the silver screen, it also gathered multiple awards, especially for its second season. In 2019, Phoebe and Fleabag were taking the world of awards by storm! Phoebe Waller-Bridge won three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Lead Actress.
She went on to win two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress. She also won the SAG Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series and was later included in the Time’s 100 list!
The first season of Killing Eve, which Phoebe wrote and was showrunner for, was nominated for multiple awards, including Primetime Emmy Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes. It won the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Series in 2017 against Fleabag! Even though Phoebe herself did not win any more awards for Killing Eve, the show and the lead actresses, Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, won multiple awards throughout the show’s seasons.
You can stream both seasons of Fleabag on Amazon Prime and all four seasons of Killing Eve on Hulu. No Time to Die is also available to stream on Apple TV, while Solo: A Star Wars Story is available on Disney Plus. Phoebe’s latest project has been a starring role in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opposite the legendary Harrison Ford. The film will be available to stream on Disney Plus on 1 December 2023.
The thirty-eight-year-old artist has given the world so many masterpieces throughout her career so far. From theatre to comedy TV series, to crime-thriller TV series to a James Bond film and even a Star Wars movie, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s talent knows no limit! The young woman has been proving that hard work and persistence can get you wherever you want to go. We, for one, cannot wait to see what Ms Waller-Bridge has next under her sleeves!
No Time to Die
Solo: A Star Wars Story
as Actress: L3-37
as Actress/ Writer
as head Writer/ Showrunner
July 14, 1985 in London, England
Conor Woodman (3)
Critics' Circle Theatre Award
Most Promising Playwright
The Off-West End Theatre Award
Best Female Performance
Most Promising New Playwright
Primetime Emmy Awards
Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Golden Globe Awards
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy