Welcome to my bed,” Eve Hewson says by way of hello, her back arched into a preposterous abundance of cloud-white pillows. The 31-year-old actor simply cannot. resist. a good line. When I ask her about her boss, Catastrophe star Sharon Horgan, Hewson doesn’t hesitate: “Do you have a girl crush on her? Because I do.” And when I ask if anyone happened to misbehave at the flashy premiere party for their new series about a scheming clan of Irish sisters? “Yeah!” A pause. “Me.”
Hewson does look alluringly dishevelled over Zoom. She’s chicly/slovenly attired in a fluffy hotel robe, enormous silver hoops, and yesterday’s blowout. She’s also lounging exactly how you’d think a movie star would lounge the morning after a debauched night out – a Hollywood fantasy of a hangover. “Tits and hoops,” she calls the off-duty uniform.
In reality, Hewson just doesn’t have any clothes. She flew in to New York yesterday, but her luggage is languishing at the airport in Dublin, along with her pet cat. (Don’t worry, Luna is scheduled to come later on a special pet flight.) But it’s this robe or the flimsy trousers she wore to the party for Bad Sisters, a black comedy about four sisters who maybe – or maybe not? – successfully conspire to murder a fifth sister’s oppressive husband. Based on a 2012 Belgian thriller, the 10-episode whodunnit from Apple TV Plus picks up just after the gaslighting tyrant’s mysterious death, and ends – as Hewson puts it – with some truly “wackadoodle s***”.
In the starry ensemble cast, Hewson plays baby sister Becka Garvey, and Horgan, the show’s creator, is the family matriarch. The rest of the Garvey girls are played by Irish actors Sarah Greene (Penny Dreadful) and Eva Birthistle (The Last Kingdom) and by Anne-Marie Duff, the technically English daughter of two Irish immigrants. Flicking through her phone this morning, though, Hewson can’t be sure exactly which of them was involved in last night’s mischief. “I was wearing these sequiny, see-through pants, and there’s just a video of me bending over and someone’s slo-mo smacking my bum,” she tells me. “I have no idea which sister it was.”
Given Hewson’s preternatural timing and penchant for zingers, it’s surprising that Bad Sisters is her first comedy. The actor’s choicest roles so far have been in imposing period pieces, like the 2014 turn-of-the-century American medical drama The Knick and the 2020 New Zealand gold rush miniseries The Luminaries.
But her wild breakthrough was Behind Her Eyes, the deranged Netflix psychological thriller that dominated conversation during whichever phase of lockdown consumed February 2021. Hewson played Adele, an unhinged housewife with an impeccable bob and a dicey grip on reality. “But in my daily life,” she assures me, “I’m much more of a clown than I have played in my work.”
Becka – a prodigiously flirty Dublin masseuse – is a total hoot. “I know Beckas, I grew up with Beckas,” says Hewson, whose family home is a 10-minute drive from the Forty Foot, the ice-cold slice of the Irish Sea in Dublin Bay where the Garvey sisters swim. “It was just like that kind of banter, that kind of mischief and sexuality, and then also not giving a f***. That’s just such a quintessential Irish chick.”
My life definitely wasn’t normal
And Hewson would know. She’s lived in Dublin most of her life (although she trained at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts), managing to hide behind one of the most seldom-used superstar surnames in rock’n’roll. Her dad is Paul Hewson – aka Bono. When she was younger, the U2 frontman discouraged his little Eve from following him into showbiz for all the usual reasons parents object to showbiz – the rejection, the uncertainty, the heartbreak. Now, though, Hewson says he’s “so buzzed” for his daughter, who in the past year graduated from a struggling actor to a knife-wielding, “Fuck off”-screaming internet meme.
“This never happened to me before Behind Her Eyes,” she says enthusiastically. “Now, I’ll go for a walk and someone will be like, ‘Oh my God, you’re the crazy bitch from that show.’” Hewson’s still relishing all the congratulatory phone calls from friends and old colleagues.
It’s refreshing and endearing to watch an actor embrace her early brushes with stardom, just like it’s refreshing to hear rock-star progeny own the fact that if you know what the inside of a tour bus looks like, your childhood wasn’t the same as everyone else’s. “My life definitely wasn’t normal,” she tells me. “It was normal half the time, and...” – she stops herself, laughing – “No, none of it was normal.”
Instead, she compares life as U2’s daughter to a scene from Postcards from the Edge, the 1990 film based on Carrie Fisher’s auto-fictional novel about growing up with Debbie Reynolds for a mom. In the scene, the Carrie character, played by Meryl Streep, watches her famous mother – played by Shirley MacLaine – sing at a party. “And the way that Meryl looks at Shirley MacLaine when she’s performing, it’s just this look of admiration and love, which I totally have with my dad, too. He’s my dad, but then when I see him do something great, I become even more sort of in awe of him.”
Because when your dad is Bono, he’s never just dad. She’s conscious of how her proximity to her father’s fame and her parents’ public activism (Ali Hewson, Eve’s mother, has been involved in anti-nuclear campaigning for decades) shaped her. “I guess I am secretly a political person,” says Hewson, who evidently can’t keep a secret. In the past few months, she’s used Twitter to comment on the US abortion crisis, the war in Ukraine, and even the Will Smith Oscars slap: “The world is ending I just wanted to see the beautiful people accept their awards instead I got violence.” She sees a future in activism as inevitable. “I haven’t found that right thing yet, or the moment to do it,” she tells me. “I’m not afraid of it. I feel like when the moment is right, I’ll pick something.”
For now, though, she’s just as likely to use social media to complain about dating – another arena in which her parents have set sky-high expectations by example. Paul Hewson met Ali Stewart on the school playground at age 12. Eve Hewson’s grandparents met at age 11. “It’s a lot of pressure,” she says, without getting into the details. “I haven’t figured out why it’s f***ed me up, but it’s definitely f***ed me up.” She also confesses that what fans can see is only the tip of the iceberg: “I actually have a secret Twitter account where I go no-holds-barred. I really let it rip up on the dating thing. The apps are s***.”
Acting isn’t a career, it seems, that’s super-compatible with romance. When she’s on set, Hewson wakes up early and spends her nights learning lines. When she’s not on set, she’s hunting for the next gig. She’s got no fixed address at this point. Her furniture is in storage. Fortunately, shooting parts of Bad Sisters in Dublin gave Hewson the opportunity to spend time at home, where she’s long had a reputation for audaciously committed role-play.
In the Hewson family’s most-told tale, little Eve cut off all her hair and, for two years, answered only to the name Elliott – the upshot of an out-of-control ET obsession. “I was so in love with that movie that I connected to the idea of him sort of feeling like an outsider,” she remembers. “But everybody talks about Elliott, like on my birthday they’ll chant ‘Elliott’. Everyone knew Elliott.”
And her follow-up to Bad Sisters allowed her to extend the stay at home. Hewson’s just finished filming Flora and Son opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a new musical comedy from Sing Street director John Carney that she’s absolutely forbidden from discussing in any detail.
For now, her tentative plan is to crash at a friend’s place in New York, catching up with classmates and hoping to book the next job, which will give Hewson her latest home address. “I just float around in a suitcase and bring my cat with me everywhere.”
But until her travel companions make it over from Dublin, a robed Hewson tells me she’s determined to sleep as much as possible – or maybe the quintessential Irish chick just can’t leave a quip on the table: “I think I’m just going to stay naked for the next week.”
‘Bad Sisters’ is available to stream on Apple TV Plus with new episodes arriving every Friday