Thrillist: You've known Phoebe for a while, you did a play together. How did she approach you with this role? Just, on paper, it's sort of a crazy thing to be asking of someone.
Andrew Scott: Yes, absolutely. Well, we worked together 10 years ago -- we did a play together in the Soho theater. Last summer we met and she wanted to talk to me about this character that she had forming in her head. We had this extraordinary first meeting where we talked about religion and spirituality a lot and what it means for this generation who have been somewhat let down by organized religion, and love and loss, the state of life that we are in. I took her to that Quaker meeting hall in Soho, which actually she wrote into the show. So we sat in exactly those positions.
We sat there for about two hours just talking about what we'd like to create. At the end of the meeting I said, "Yeah, I want to be involved," even though I hadn't seen any scripts or anything, but we just had this extraordinary energy. Obviously, I'd seen the first series, but our main aim was to try and create a love story between two flawed people. Just because love is imperfect doesn't mean it's not significant for us in our lives.
About that Quaker meeting: Is that something you do frequently? What inspired you to bring her there? I read in another interview that you grew up Catholic and spoke about having a contentious relationship with the church.
Scott: I suppose I feel like being spiritual is very important to me. I love the idea that "spiritual" literally means "of the breath," so I think it's just about remaining calm. The reason I love that Quaker meeting so much is, it's in the middle of Soho in London, one of the busiest cities in the world, and it's just a place you can go in and sit and be present and silent. I think we're so starved of that, just the idea of presenting a man of the church as somebody who is conflicted and human. A lot of the stories that come out of the Catholic Church can be quite extreme in our drama -- stories of abuse, or corruption, or extremism -- and I suppose we just wanted to show a human side. Fleabag, the reason I think people love that character, is because she's flawed. Phoebe wanted this story to have another character who is a match for her. In that sense, he has to be flawed, too.
He's really the only person that seems on her level, like when he notices her breaking the fourth wall. Can you talk about those moments in particular and creating someone who speaks to Fleabag on her terms?
Scott: I think that's what we feel when we love somebody. We feel like we can see points of them that other people can't. We can see their vulnerability. Phoebe's great gift, I think, is she's not scared of a big gesture. She's not scared to be theatrical -- paintings falling off walls, fourth wall-breaking. She comes from the theater.
Those scenes [are] really, really fascinating because they're very playful. But I find it very moving because it plays with the form of television that Phoebe's already played with. It's unusual to have a character with direct access to the audience. To bring that further in the second series, and for it to be based on deep authenticity between the characters, I think is wonderful because it's not just a trope. It really actually does mean something in relation to what he's able to see in her in a symbolic way. [That's] the reason those scenes work. I think you just have real chemistry with some people, some actors. Phoebe and I have always had that great chemistry. I think it makes the audience feel what it's like to love somebody.