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Anjana Vasan: 'Killing Eve' assassin Pam is a blend of Eve and Villanelle

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Anjana Vasan: 'Killing Eve' assassin Pam is a blend of Eve and Villanelle
Anjana Vasan now can be seen in Season 4 of "Killing Eve." Photo courtesy of BBC America

NEW YORK, March 18 (UPI) -- Anjana Vasan says Pam, the assassin she portrays on Killing Eve, is exciting to play because she is a bit of an enigma.

"I see Eve and Villanelle within Pam," Vasan told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

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"She seems timid and not up for the job. She doesn't look like a killer, necessarily. She doesn't really enjoy it, but at the same time, there is a darkness to her. She did make the choice herself to kill her brother," the actress added.

"That contradiction is what's interesting, and I think that is what we will see play out as the show develops."

Now in its fourth and final season, with new episodes airing Sundays, the globe-spanning espionage dramedy centers on Sandra Oh, who plays Eve, a former MI5 analyst-turned-security-specialist who is drawn equally to and repelled by killer-for-hire Villanelle (Jodie Comer).

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The show also features Camille Cottin as Helene, a member of the shadowy criminal enterprise, The Twelve, and the woman who recruits Pam; Kim Bodnia as Konstantin, the Russian operative who trained Villanelle and is teaching Pam how to take out human targets; and Fiona Shaw, Eve's ex-boss and the former head of MI6's Russian division, whose motives are murky as the series comes to a close.

Vasan was a huge Killing Eve fan going into her audition for Pam, and would have been content if she came away from it with no more than a glimpse at what would happen in future episodes.

"I couldn't quite believe it when I got the job," Vasan said, calling her time on the series an "overwhelmingly positive" experience.

"I was a little bit intimidated at first, thinking this is a huge show with big names, and I didn't know what it would be like," she recalled. "I assumed it would be this sort of machine, and it's not.

"It's actually a very generous, collaborative process. That's the big takeaway for me. I really felt like I could really collaborate with the writers and other actors."

The fact that showrunner Laura Neal is a woman telling a story about women contributed to the positivity and sense of female power on the set, Vasan noted.

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"But I feel the love also from the male directors of photography, for example," she emphasized. "The people who are involved in the show are really good at what they do. I was just enjoying how they all work."

Vasan described Pam as someone who is easy to underestimate. When viewers meet her, she is working as a mortician in her abusive brother's funeral home.

"She's one of those characters who [fits the maxim], 'It's the quiet ones you have to look out for.' It's an intriguing and enigmatic opening with her, and you kind of don't know where it is going to go," Vasan explained.

"The writers were very bold with that, slowly drawing her into the story. Laura Neal always talks about it like the origin story of an assassin because you've seen assassins before -- obviously not Villanelle -- but the other assassins that The Twelve have used at some point, and they are all women. I think that is interesting."

Pam's storyline shows how criminals find people who are lonely and miserable, and then groom them to commit nefarious acts.

"That echoes the larger questions that Killing Eve discusses: Are you a natural born killer? Are you made that way? That idea of once you've killed, can you go back and continue as if you never had? Or do you just settle, and that's your path forward, and you can't really return from that?" Vasan mused.

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Different power dynamics are at play regarding Pam's relationships with her brother, Elliot (Manpreet Bachu), Helene and Konstantin.

"In some ways, Pam is an innocent because she doesn't really know that much beyond what Helene has told her," Vasan said.

"Her brother represents all that is going wrong with where Pam is," the actress continued. "She loves her job and she is very good at her job, but she is very isolated and she doesn't really have any friends.

"Her parents are no longer with her and I think there is a huge cloud that's hanging over her. Helene is the only way out of that -- it's the promise of something more extraordinary."

Pam sees the fashionable and confident Helene as a mentor, someone "brilliant and aspirational," Vasan said, adding that because Helene is in a higher socio-economic class, Pam assumes Helene must be right in her criminal calculations, and that whatever she is doing must be worthy.

The fledgling assassin is drawn in because she is flattered that she is needed by someone like Helene, Vasan said.

Pam's connection to Konstantin is another matter.

"What's fun is that you see that relationship evolving in real time," Vasan said. "They are an odd pair. Konstantin does not want to be there to train Pam, and Pam is very eager to impress and also a little intimidated by him because he is a force of nature. It's a very odd pairing come together."

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Vasan learned she got the job on Killing Eve before the first season of her sitcom, We Are Lady Parts, was released to critical acclaim. The show about female British Muslim punk rockers has been renewed for a second season.

"They are very, very different characters and very, very different shows. We haven't started filming yet on Season 2 of Lady Parts. Nida Manzoor is still writing the show, so [Killing Eve] fit in and I was free," the actress said.

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