Sean Delaney reveals that he’s pink — his arms are a medium steak shade, his face more of a medium well steak — when he jumps on the phone to talk about his role on Killing Eve. The sunburn is thanks to the fact that he’s still getting used to being in the states, specifically New York City. The past couple of months are actually the first time he’s traveled to the U.S. from the United Kingdom and after he recently moved to a new apartment building with a rooftop to hang out on, he hadn’t realized that the sun can be a tad harsher on this side of the Atlantic.
“I think that’s definitely been my most touristy mistake so far,” he tells Teen Vogue. After performing in the West End production of The Ferryman, he was tapped to come out to the states and try his hand in the Broadway one. Coupled with the facts that he’d never been to the U.S. before and the second season of Killing Eve was about to premiere, the move had all the makings of a new chapter for the young performer.
Sean currently portrays hacker whiz kid Kenny Stowton on the hit BBC America spy thriller starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. He’s the go-to person to sift through mugshots in a criminal database or rewatch security camera footage on a loop; his character is much more comfortable behind the computer screen than the center of attention in an M16 debriefing room. Over the course of two seasons, we’ve seen Kenny come out of his shell a bit more, largely due to his working relationship turned friendship with Eve (Sandra) as she tracked the murderous Villanelle. It was also exposed near the end of season one that he’s the son of Carolyn (portrayed by Fiona Shaw), the Head of Russia Desk at M16 who recruited Eve to find Villanelle.
“It was definitely an intimidating prospect to pull off the idea that I was a whiz kid at computers when I can barely switch my phone on and off at the end of the day,” he says. “His personal friendship with Eve has grown and so that's kind of taken the forefront this time around.”
The hit show’s sophomore season also explores a bit more of Kenny and Eve’s friendship, coming to a head in the penultimate episode when he goes behind his mother’s back and warns Eve against going to Rome for a mission. Sean repeatedly expresses how grateful he is for the entire experience and that it’s been a bit of a whirlwind — Killing Eve came around about a year after he finished drama school and was doing temping jobs and working as an assistant in a real estate office (you can check out his office skills in a humorous video posted to the Killing Eve Instagram). On top of all this, Kenny originally wasn’t going to be in the series beyond just a couple of episodes.
Sean remembers back to one of his first days shooting when he and Fiona gave Sandra the same deadpan look, which made Sandra giggle and joke that they looked like mother and son. Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge overheard the exchange and ended up writing the bit into the show. Sean has been extremely thankful for the opportunity to continue working with such a team of amazing actors and calls the moment “a really happy accident.” It’s also a bit surreal considering the fact that during Sean’s first year studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Fiona guest spoke in one of his classes.
“It was incredible to listen to this really experienced, bold and brave actress, speak about her career to us and give us advice,” he says about Fiona, who is a storied performer who many will recognize as Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter movies. “Three years later, we're on set together playing mother and son in a TV series. It's a ‘pinch me’ moment. If I think about it too much, I'll probably start crying.”
Fiona isn’t the only pro that Sean gets to work with. He, of course, has many scenes with Golden Globe award-winning performer Sandra Oh. Even before he got into acting, he would watch Grey’s Anatomy with his mom and witness “how brilliant she was.”
“It's been a really easy process building chemistry because we both work really hard together and we both get on really well,” he says. “A lot of Sandra's work comes offscreen and her investment into it and the amount of work she puts in. If someone's only coming in for one or two day's filming, they’re treated with the same respect as someone who's been a part of it for the whole time; and that a testament to her really.”
Killing Eve season two has upped the dramatic stakes, but always part of the fun is seeing Jodie’s villain outfitted in the most luxurious garments. Floor-length gowns that basic biddies want to document for their Instagram are expected from Killing Eve, however, the wardrobe selections for Sean have also caught the eye of many fans. Particularly, Kenny’s penchant for workplace shorts. While Sean’s personally uncomfortable in shorts and doesn’t wear them often unless he’s at the beach, he says that it actually helps him stand and walk a tad awkwardly that kind of suits Kenny.
"It's really incredible to have fans and people watching it take in that attention to detail and what people are wearing and I think a lot of it had to do with Jodie's costume in the first series,” he says. “I check Twitter now and again to see how the show's doing and I see the kind of things I get tagged in. My mum, on the other hand, is the person who will look up or search, ‘Kenny Killing Eve’ or ‘Kenny Shorts’ to see what people are saying about it. As much as I've tried to avoid it, my mum has given me the lowdown.”
The past couple of years have been a complete trip for Sean, going from office gigs to acting in one of the most buzzed-about shows on television. The second season of Killing Eve closes on May 26, but thankfully it’s already greenlit for a third season. It’s proof of the show’s success.
“I'd seen Fleabag and I'd fallen in love with Phoebe's mind before. So before I even opened the [Killing Eve] script I knew it was going to be really exciting and bold and challenging and rule-breaking,” he says. “It feels like there's no doubt in any of our minds that the reason it's kind of exploded is because of the quality. It really does feel like the hard work everyone put in has really paid off.”
It’s only the beginning for Sean and it’s already a bright start.
“I'm working on Broadway, which is on any actor's bucket list, in an incredible play; and I'm also around for the first time to kind of see the hype around Killing Eve which is a really lovely bonus,” he says. “There is an amazing mural at Union Square Station that I didn't know was there until I got off and there is like a big, like ten foot, painting of Jodie and Sandra. That's definitely been my most mind-boggling experience in New York so far; to be there with two different jobs at the same time. It's been really lovely.”
The season two finale of Killing Eve airs on May 26.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue