When Killing Eve returns for season three on April 12, fans will once again follow charming psychopath Villanelle (played by Jodie Comer) and Eve (Sandra Oh), an unofficial American agent with the British MI6, on a chase. This time around, England, Spain, Russia, and Poland serve as the backdrop for the action, and designing the locales and sets for the smart British spy thriller proved to be a greater challenge than ever before.
“When we first started season one, we thought we would probably do two thirds on location and one third in the studio, but now the story has dictated that we are a location show,” says executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle. “We really wanted to go places this season that shows don’t normally go, which is quite hard in Western Europe, as most places have been used [for filming].”
Production designer Laurence Dorman notes that the challenge in creating the sets of the cult favorite is “keeping up with the pace of the show, and moving around a lot.” “We spend an enormous amount of time going through airports this season, and we burn sets like crazy; Villanelle does not stand still.” The team filmed everywhere from London to Barcelona to the far-flung locales of Romania.
Within those places, it was important to create contrasting looks for the polar-opposite characters. “Eve lives on the dowdy side of the world, while Villanelle is on the glam side. The overall idea is we are grounded in reality and veer into some quite spectacularly unreal situations. This is where the tone comes from; it’s real but a little bit crazy,” says Dorman.
Season three introduces new houses in Russia and France, a rural farm in Poland, the London offices of an online journalism site known as the Bitter Pill, and a new midcentury Highgate home for the British head of the MI6’s Russia desk, Carolyn Martens (played by Fiona Shaw). Perhaps the most intriguing set is Villanelle’s new digs in Barcelona. Shot on location, the designers found a gem of an apartment in the Catalan capital on the second day of scouting. “We came across this incredible apartment with Spanish interiors, a Moorish influence, textured glass colors, lovely light control, and the whole thing was spectacularly different from anything I had ever seen,” says Dorman, who designed the past seasons as well. “We decided on the spot that has to be it.”
Set decorator Casey Williams concurs, noting that the house, owned by local architects, was a dream. “We got to play with the Moorish modern graphic pieces, and I had fun with the textures, architecture, and fabrics,” she says. Taking her cues from the chic, couture-clad and eclectic character who lives there, Williams paired furnishings from Barcelona prop houses and antique shops with pieces such as the four-poster bed from the U.K.’s French Bedroom Company and custom lampshades from BeauVamp. “Villanelle has this childlike element to her, and if she sees something pretty, she wants it now. She collects things and is like a magpie. There is always a sense of luxury about her, and she is not going to buy anything that doesn’t cost a lot of money,” says Williams. Other character details come into play in the space as well. “We wanted to keep the space somewhat sparse to denote the emptiness of her character,” says Dorman.
A house in Russia (the exteriors were shot in Romania and the interiors on a London soundstage) is another favorite set. “The season’s biggest build was a Russian house interior that Dorman completely matched to the exterior location, building the dimensions slightly bigger in the studio and creating a beautifully conceived set with connecting rooms and a staircase,” says Woodward Gentle. Dorman and his crew seamlessly melded the location and soundstage while facing a lack of motorways and even bears crossing the few roads that were in Romania.
Williams found this set to be the most fun from a historical point of view as far as shopping for the furnishings. “We sourced everything in Romania and had it sent to the U.K. It was quite a feat getting pieces that have a history and are well kept. I looked at rural Russian houses, and the colors are so much brighter. I found a lot of incredible wallpaper with a ’70s and ’80s vibe. I also looked at the history of the people, what they would have in their home, and how much money they would spend for the older pieces in the house. I really enjoyed delving into the Russian background and traveling around Romania,” she says. The end result provides the landscape for a cat and mouse game of epic proportions.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest