'Fleabag': Sian Clifford credits her offscreen friendship with Phoebe Waller-Bridge for their incredible chemistry
'The reason I love our show as much as any other fan is because of the sister relationship, which is at the heart of the show — it is the real love story of the series,' says Sian Clifford
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's brainchild 'Fleabag' is more than just a dark comedy-drama that follows a twisted, lost character in her misadventures. The show is perhaps the most masterfully made dark comedy you'd get your hands on.
Waller-Bridge plays the eponymous anti-heroine — a woman in her 30s living in London, trying to go about life while simultaneously dealing with the tragedy of her best friend Boo's death. However, her story is much more convoluted than this.
'Fleabag' lives every day running away from her reality, trying to escape the repercussions of her actions, and all this while still trying to save the beloved cafe she opened with Boo.
Through all this, however, Fleabag finds her constant in Claire, her elder sister played by Sian Clifford.
Claire and Fleabag are more than sisters — they're best friends — something that is possibly true of many sibling relationships. The sisters bicker, they fight, and patch up just like that. Despite everything that goes wrong in their respective lives, the sisters have each other's backs.
When Claire is in an unhappy marriage with Martin (played by Brett Gelman) and is not able to derive orgasms out of him, Fleabag, in a signature younger sister manner, gets Claire a vibrator.
"The reason I love our show as much as any other fan is because of the sister relationship, which is at the heart of the show - it is the real love story of the series," Sian Clifford, who plays Claire on the dark comedy, said in an exclusive chat with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW)
"[The relationship] is so accurately drawn. I have a sister and I can really relate to how Fleabag and Claire interact with one other. They both compel and repel each other. but no matter what, in a time of crisis, they will actually be there for one another," she says.
Towards the end of season one, Claire leaves upset with Fleabag. Also, in a way running away from her own reality, Claire spurns her and leaves her for Martin at that moment. "But what is wonderful about the second season is the U-turn that Claire takes in that relationship and the journey their sisterhood goes on - I really like to think that their relationship has evolved in a healthier way than it can."
The rapport we see between the reel life sisters really is a product of a nearly two-decade-long empowering and nurturing friendship.
"Phoebe and I are very old friends — we went to drama school together and we've always had each others' back. We made a silent pact back in the day when we were basically teenagers that we will help each other out whoever got in the stronger position first... We've come on an extraordinary journey: we graduated [from drama school] 13 years ago now and have probably known each other for 16 years [now], "she tells us.
"We've also said that we're like sisters although we don't bicker as much — I speak to her every day and we're incredibly close," she says adding that the show has only bought the duo closer.
Playing sisters was perhaps always on the table for Clifford and Waller-Bridge. But it was when Waller-Bridge incorporated Claire as a character in her series that they got the opportunity to make it happen. "We always had a fantasy of playing sisters and joked about it in drama school. Claire was a character she came up in a sketch probably ten years. So I have been playing Claire for a really long time now. She took that character and put it in 'Fleabag' — for which I'm really lucky."
Clifford and Waller-Bridge's strong and nurturing friendship is really at the heart of 'Fleabag'.
"It is extraordinary when you have a champion like that [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] who believes in you, maybe more than you do yourself. Pheobe knew me when I was really young and she stood by me from right at the beginning of my journey in drama school. So she knew the actor that I was, the actor that I became in drama school and the actor I became in the professional world. So she really knew the depths of my skillset - she saw something in me and wanted to bring that out. It is a very privileged relationship to have with a person that can develop a character around you - which is rare in this industry."
'Fleabag' season two is an ode to sisterhood — the first friendships women develop in the world. It is a story that proves that sisters are right around the corner for you, they're there to tell you your when hair looks really bad. Or not. Because that's also how sisters are.
The second and the final season of the series is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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