Game of Thrones’ Gemma Whelan has just traded out one bloody, prestige cable drama for another. Whelan is a newcomer to AMC’s Killing Eve, playing Geraldine, daughter of MI6 boss Carolyn Martens who slid into her mother’s DMs this week after the tragic loss of her brother, Kenny.
Despite mingling with secret agents and Russian spies, Geraldine is refreshingly normal — a lonely young woman in mourning hoping to reconnect with an estranged parental figure — and Whelan is using the character to showcase her range, trading the merciless seafaring pirate personality of Yara Greyjoy for a comically oblivious, woefully unequipped 30-something with serious mommy issues. We chatted with Whelan about joining Killing Eve in its third season, her character’s darker arc, and if she’d ever return to the Seven Kingdoms.
Going from Game of Thrones to something like Killing Eve, are there similarities between these shows?
There is a lot of murder, a lot of people who appear to be one thing and turn out to be another. Duplicity. Deceit. Very beautifully shot. Yeah, there are similarities for sure.
Your character, Geraldine, kind of pops up out of nowhere this season. Why haven’t we heard anything about her before now?
I really don’t know. I guess that’s interesting in a way. Like, what? She’s got a daughter? Hold on. And everyone’s got their own conspiracy theories about it all. Carolyn is such a dark horse. She’s the sort of person that, if it’s not important to the moment, why mention it?
What’s her journey with her mother this season?
My feeling is that Geraldine has been away for a while. They don’t really have a relationship. It’s a very difficult dynamic between them, because they are so different. Geraldine is so emotionally available and keen to talk about things and fix things and if it’s all out in the open, then we can heal together. You know? Carolyn is all about squashing it down. It’s not necessary and it’s not part of who she is. That juxtaposition, the difference in their approaches to life is obviously going to start fractures in a home environment, particularly when Geraldine doesn’t really have a life established with Carolyn. She just wants to have a relationship with her, to grieve together and heal. I think that’s quite difficult for Carolyn, who just wants to get back to work and forget about things.
Does being around her mother change Geraldine as the season goes on?
Yes, absolutely. I think we see that Geraldine begins to harden towards later episodes. She tries so hard with her mother, and makes some mistakes as well and gets involved inadvertently with certain things that she had no business getting involved in. She sort of inadvertently makes things worse for Carolyn at work. Geraldine tries so hard many, many times to connect with her mother. I think you can only try so many times before it gets difficult for the person trying to connect. Something’s got to give.
What can you say about Geraldine’s relationship with Konstantin? Is something going on there?
I guess it’s good that you’re not sure is all I can say, but it’s interesting that you’ve picked up on something.
What’s that like for you to come on to a show in its third season and carve out your own character, who’s really unaware of what a bizarre world she’s living in?
Yeah, she takes the tuning fork at a different pitch from everyone else. She doesn’t really quite fit. I hope that’s interesting [for fans]. It’s quite fun to come in as a bit of a clueless character, getting things a little bit wrong.
Is Geraldine going to get her hands dirty at some point this season?
Let’s hope so. There’s definitely a latent part of Carolyn in there somewhere. It just needs drawing out perhaps.
We’ve had some distance from GoT’s final season. How do you look back on how things ended with the show and the fans’ reaction to it? Would you be open to coming back?
A Greyjoy spinoff would be wonderful. Yeah, I feel really proud to have been part of it. They’re my second family. We’re all in touch on a WhatsApp group. I don’t feel any real personal loss, because they’re still all in my life. But of course, if the show had carried on, that would’ve been wrong as well. Everything has to come to an end, and to draw it out wouldn’t have been fair either. I really liked the ending of the show. I know some people had a problem with it, but you can’t make everyone happy.
BBC America’s ‘Killing Eve’ airs on Sundays at 9:00 PM EST with simulcasting on AMC.