Eve Hewson Says She Was Drawn to ‘Bad Sisters’ Because She, Too, Is a ‘Wild Child’: ‘I’m Not Going to Lie About That’

“There’s something in playing a character from where you are from — it is so instinctive and in your blood,” the Irish actress says of the Apple TV+ drama

Eve Hewson Bad Sisters
Eve Hewson in "Bad Sisters" (Credit: Apple TV+)

By the end of 2022, Eve Hewson was already having a very good year by virtue of the fact that she was one of the stars of Sharon Horgan’s “Bad Sisters,” a very serious and very funny series about a group of four Dublin sisters who scheme to kill the man who is abusing their fifth sister. Then the “Nepo Babies” furor erupted after a December article in New York magazine, and Hewson — whose father is Paul Hewson, aka U2’s Bono — dropped a couple of funny tweets and came across as one of the few who handled it all with wit and perspective.

Then came January 2023, when the 31-year-old Irish actress headed to the Sundance Film Festival with “Flora and Son,” a delightful and touching musical drama from “Once” director John Carney. Playing Flora, a single mother who starts taking guitar lessons as a way to connect with her sullen son, Hewson won rave reviews while the film landed the festival’s biggest deal, with Apple winning a bidding war that reached the high side of $20 million.

Eve Hewson Sharon Horgan Bad Sisters
Eve Hewson and Sharon Horgan in “Bad Sisters” (Apple TV+)

Hewson is now shooting Susanne Bier’s miniseries “The Perfect Couple” for Netflix and gearing up for Season 2 of “Bad Sisters.” The upcoming season will find the five sisters (Hewson, Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle and Sarah Greene) back to deal with the aftermath of the death of “The Prick,” as they called the abusive husband played by Claes Bang. Hewson spoke to TheWrap via Zoom about why she connected so strongly with two of her recent roles and about why her dad is taking cues from her these days.

What drew you to “Bad Sisters?”
Sharon, definitely. And the script, but that’s Sharon. I mean, the idea that there were these five brand new, exciting, layered characters going out into the world, when so much of what we watch now is not original IP — it’s, like, superheroes and books and blah, blah, blah. But she’d written these five characters and they felt so true and so familiar and they’d never had their moment on film. And I felt an instant connection with Becka. I had so much fun doing my audition. I just knew what I needed to do.

It was kind of similar to Flora, you know? Some parts you kind of go, “Hmm, I don’t think I understand that. How do I figure this person out?” But then some parts just sort of come out of you. [Laughs] And Becka came out of me. Flora came out of me. Some things click. It’s like you’re just a vessel, and that person is just raging out of your soul.

Eve Hewson Flora and Son
Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “Flora and Son” (Apple TV+)

Becka is kind of a wild child, and so is Flora. Are you drawn to roles like that, or are people drawn to you when they’re casting them?  
[Laughs] I am a bit of a wild child, to be perfectly honest. I’m not gonna lie about that. I am a wild child, but I’m many other things. And what was interesting about Becka is she wasn’t just one thing, you know? There’s so much of her that feels inadequate and incapable and without direction, the baby of the family. But it’s really interesting to also be a girl who can walk into a bar and have any man buy her a drink.

I had always thought I would be good at playing these type of roles, but they don’t really write them a lot, you know? And especially with Irish characters. There’s something in playing a character from where you are from — it is so instinctive and in your blood, and I never really thought I would be able to do that. I thought I’d always be playing English or American characters. And now there’s been this massive wave of creativity in Ireland and I’ve really benefited from it.

Why did it take so long? Everybody knows the Irish are the greatest storytellers.
Of course! I thought the entire world knew that. Sometimes people ask me, “Why do you think these Irish characters are so interesting?” I’m like, “Because we’re the most interesting people on the planet. Duh!”

The tone is very tricky in “Bad Sisters.” Some people were surprised when it was entered as a drama series at the Emmys, but they probably would’ve been surprised if it were entered as a comedy, too.
Exactly. I mean, essentially the story is quite dark and dramatic and it’s about domestic abuse and I don’t think they could really ignore that and just put it in as a comedy. But the way that we approached the tone was, it’s a drama with jokes. We had to find the truth of the story, the truth of the sisters, and then also have hilarious one-liners and ridiculous moments. Because life is funny — even in the most dramatic times, life can be really, really funny.

The humor is necessary because if you take that away, it’s, you know, a bunch of women plotting to kill somebody. And yes, you could say that he deserves it, but without the humor you could find it harder to root for them.   
It would’ve been too much, I think. I don’t think it would’ve hit as a show if it was just drama. You know, we’ve seen stories about domestic abuse and women going out to get the bad guy. But the genius of Sharon and of this show is that we’re also gonna make you laugh the entire time we do it. And you’re gonna feel conflicted about that, you know?

Did you have to stay away from Claes on the set?
Oh, Claes. [Laughs] Claes sometimes needs to be given a wide birth, I will say that. I learned how to pick my days. Some days he could be really, really fun and cheeky. Some days, I stayed away from him. I think he had a hard time playing that part because it’s difficult to be that much of a dick, and then to have all these women come at him all the time.

Eve Hewson Claes Bang Bad Sisters
Eve Hewson and Claes Bang in “Bad Sisters” (Apple TV+)

What were the biggest challenges of the role for you?
Honestly, the biggest challenge was the emotional toll of it. I found it really hard to stay in that place, and then also come out of it and do the comedy side of it. Staying in the head space, you know… I’m not a Method actor, not at all, never gonna be a Method actor, doesn’t work for me. But we had a long, long shoot. And when you are thinking in the mentality of a character, going, “How would this person feel?” in these moments when Becka’s feeling so low and down on herself, it was hard for me to have those thoughts for an extended period of time. And I think it just ended up breaking me down.

By the end of the shoot, I was in need of rehab. [Laughs] Just kidding. But it was really hard, and I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult for me emotionally. I think it was maybe because I felt so close to Becka. We’re different, but there are so many similarities that the two worlds collided and my brain just got confused. So it was more of a challenge than I think I let on on set.  

So what was your rehab like after It was over?
My rehab consisted of going to Los Angeles and lying in the sun for a month and hanging out with my friends. It was a perfect kind of rehab.

You obviously come from a family that’s in the arts. Did you know early on that acting was what you wanted to do?
Yeah, I mean, I always thought I was going to do something performing-wise. I loved music and I played the guitar and the piano and the drums when I was younger and I had a band, and I thought maybe that’s what I wanted to do. And then I also did drama, and I knew I was good at that. And I then got a tutor and she put me in a short film, and then she wrote a part for me, and I did this indie movie when I was 15. And that’s when I fell in love with the process of filmmaking. That was it for me.

I came home and I was absolutely determined to do it. I started taking acting classes and I got an agent when the movie came out, and then I was like, “How do I get out of Dublin? OK, I’ll go and study theater in New York.” And then I went to New York and I started auditioning full-time and studying at NYU.  I was very scrappy about it and just kept going. And here I am. [Laughs]

Do you still have the kind of passion you had then?
Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely a love-hate relationship, I will say that. There are times where I just think, “What is the point? I could be doing something else that’s more important.” But I have to say, I still feel… I’ve had some bad experiences, but I’ve also had some great experiences. And even on a sh—y day on set, I still don’t want to be anywhere else.

And now that things are going so well for me, I have these moments where I remember the years that went by that I couldn’t get a job. Walking into an audition room and feeling completely invisible. Feeling like I had something to offer and people were just seeing right through me, you know? And that was so difficult. And so whenever I’m exhausted and tired on set, I remind myself of those moments and I feel really proud of myself.

“The Knick” must have been a pretty good project for your first major role.
That was, in my eyes, kind of like getting my master’s degree. It was two years with Steven Soderberg. It was hands-down my favorite experience I’ve ever had working. I was 22, I was six months out of college and it was the best education you could ever get.

Bad Sisters
Left to right: Eve Hewson, Sharon Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle and Sarah Greene in “Bad Sisters” (Apple TV+)

Where is “Bad Sisters” going in Season 2? Does it pick up at the end of Season 1?
I’ve heard some things, but I can’t say. [Laughs] I have heard from people who have read Episode 1 that it’s a banger.

After seeing “Bad Sisters,” where all of the sisters frequently go swimming at the area in Dublin called the Forty Foot, and then watching the documentary “Bono & the Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman,” I have to ask: Is it a goal of the Hewson family to make the Forty Foot a big thing around the world?
I haven’t seen the documentary. Is it in there?

Yeah. Letterman visits it and talks to people who are there swimming, and then your dad and Edge write a song about him called “Forty Foot Man.” And at the end of the doc, Dave actually goes back to Dublin and jumps in.  
Oh, wow.

So it’s a significant location in both projects.
Well, it’s a significant location in Dublin. I guess “Bad Sisters” must have put it on the map, and my dad obviously likes keeping up with all the cool kids.