Fans of the series “Killing Eve” watch and get annoyed from episode to episode because of the main heroine, the diabolical and unstable Villanelle, who is probably the most unusual paid killer in the world of fiction. However, it is not entirely fictional.
British author Luke Jennings, who introduced Villanelle to the world through his four books on the basis of which the series of the same name was created, claims that his heroine is inspired by a real killer, the infamous Idoia López Riaño, who killed 23 people. She was part of the extremist Basque separatist group ETA during the 1980s.
Riano, who served a 23-year sentence in prison, was known as the Tigress (La Tigresa) thanks to her legendary, and probably fictional sexual powers. She claimed to have seduced police officers, had sex with them, and then killed them and their colleagues.
As writer Jennings discovered, the narcissism and complete lack of empathy that Riano had served him to conceive the character of Villanelle played by Jodie Comer in the series.
And, while we look at her, we can’t help but feel a little sympathy and adore her fashion style, until then, the “real Villanelle” was a complete psychopath whose love for expensive things almost cost her her life. On one occasion, she was staring at a shop window so much that she did not see the man who tried to kill her.
Riano became one of ETA’s leading commandos during the 1980s who was recruited as a teenager. She said she desired to become a firefighter.
“I became involved with Eta at a very young age, full of romantic and idealistic ideas, and those who captured me knew straight away how to make me choose: ‘Would you prefer to save a few people as a firefighter or a whole town? We need committed kids like you'”, she wrote in a letter to the judge who decided in 2015 on her fate.
She was 18 at the time and spent ten years fighting for this separatist group, taking part in numerous actions throughout Spain from 1984 to 1994. She is best known for planting a bomb in a car in 1986 in Madrid when 12 police officers were killed, and 50 people were injured in an explosion.
Later that year, a similar bombing she organized killed five people, killing several police officers and four soldiers in separate actions. She also tried to kill the judge of the Supreme Court of Spain.
As her comrades later testified, everyone was fed up with her behavior, the constant attempts to seduce her victims before dealing with them, so they tried to force her to retire and move to the south of France.
She was arrested there in 1994, where she was serving a sentence for terrorism, so she was extradited to Spain. In 2003, she was sentenced to 2,000 years in prison. However, she was released in 2017 after 23 years in prison, one for each of the victims.
Even while she was in prison, she repented of her crimes and condemned the violence.