bridgerton
Photography by LIAM DANIEL//Netflix © 2024

Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton On *That* Bridgerton Love Scene

Chairs were broken in the making of this season.

Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton can’t stop looking at each other. I mean, they really can’t.

As I enter their suite in the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto to interview the Bridgerton stars, all I can hear is laughter. Coughlan is leaning over to show Newton something on her phone. He throws his head back, giggling. It feels extremely intimate but, as the world has seen through countless clips on TikTok and on the third season of Bridgerton (the second drop of episodes dropped on June 13) this is just your average Tuesday for the two co-stars.

nicola coughlin luke newton
Photography by Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

“You must be exhausted!” I tell them as I sit down. Another look. “We’re OK,” Coughlan smiles. Newton nods, echoing “Yea, we’re OK.” They’ve just arrived from Brazil, another leg of the never-ending Bridgerton press world tour. “Our bodies don’t know what time it is but we’re fine,” Coughlan laughs. But I guess if I was breaking every Netflix record, maybe I would be fine too.

Bridgerton’s third season has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year. It’s been two years since the last season and fans have been clamouring to see the love story between their favourite wallflower, Penelope Featherington (Coughlan) and sensitive third son, Colin Bridgerton (Newton). Judging by the sheer amount of videos I’m bombarded with on a daily basis on social media, they were not disappointed.

 

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While the first half of the season was more about Penelope and Colin falling in love and revealing their true feelings, the second centres around the aftermath. Can Penelope ever reveal her true Lady Whistledown identity? Will Colin ever forgive her? And in true Shonda Rhimes fashion, how much sex does it take to break a chaise lounge? (Yes, the actors actually broke the prop during the scene.) But for a show that is known for its sexy reputation, the love scenes in Bridgerton season three are surprisingly heartwarming, and, dare I say, realistic.

“We’re so proud of it,” Coughlan says of the the playful, messy and awkward intimacy between her and Newton’s character. “It feels much more true to life because in intimate moments like that, you do laugh, you do silly things, things go wrong. It was special that all that was included.” Indeed it was.

Below, Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton talk more about filming *that* scene, their character’s costume journeys and the meme that Coughlin can’t stop laughing about. (Warning, spoilers ahead!)

Is it strange that I loved how Penelope went through this big makeover, and her life didn’t actually change?

Nicola Coughlan (NC): “I know! It was really cleverly done. Because everyone loves a makeover moment, it’s so satisfying to watch, but I quite like that she immediately was just who she was and still rubbish at flirting. And I love that the transformation continues in her style throughout the season. In part two, Penelope comes more into her womanhood, so the gowns get more fitted and there are stronger colours.”

Photography by Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix © 2024

We have to talk about the green dress from episode one. The reveal! I can imagine a lot of thought went into this dress.

NC: “Oh, a hundred per cent! John Glazer, who designed the costumes this season, is a genius. It was like they wanted Penelope to go a little too far in her transformation — to wear a dress that she wasn’t confident enough to wear yet, like the dress is wearing her. So she goes back into the romantic soft blues, greens and purples, but as the season then progresses, she starts to be able to own those stronger colours again. There’s so much thought and work that goes there into everything. Netflix needs to do a full documentary on the costume department! There’s a full room that’s just for embellishing! There’s a team of six that just make my dresses.”

How much input do you have in the creation of your costumes?

NC: “We do have a say, but we feel we’re in such safe hands that there’s never any conflict. And honestly, the majority of the time, the costume department knows more about the future of your character than you do. We didn’t have any scripts at that point so I was like the fans — ‘What is this dress for this? What’s happening?’” [Laughs]

Photography Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

And not to be forgotten, Colin is serving some pirate-fantasy realness this season. But his look definitely transforms from the first to the last episode of the series. Can you walk us through how your costumes evolved with your character over eight episodes?

Luke Newton (LN): “Colin starts off real strong in those first episodes and by the end of the season, he’s more settled, like ‘this is who I am.’ And that’s really his whole journey. At the start, he’s putting on a bit of pretence and thinking that he needs to be a man about town, but eventually gets back to the real him because he learns who he is is good enough.

All the costumes were so intricate and detailed! I’ve seen Dougie Hawkes [associate costume designer] talk about the little Easter eggs that are on one waistcoat and it told me a hundred stories before I’d even read a script.”

The fans have been very vocal about wanting to see Colin begging Penelope for forgiveness after the way he treated her in the past and Luke, may I say, you did some A+ begging. What is the key to male grovelling?

NC: “I’m just laughing to myself thinking about a meme I saw where it’s Violet [the Bridgerton matriarch] saying to Colin, ‘you always have been one of my most selfless children.’ And someone’s like, ‘he’s literally gone on a gap year every year.’” [Laughs]

LN: “God, I don’t know. I think the long game of their relationship has really helped in that he really knows her, the real her, even though they’re both putting on a bit of pretence this year. So just finding the truth in it, the desire and what does he want.”

NC: “There’s also more yearning to come. Once they get a little taste and then they’re like, ‘oh yeah!’ We called episode seven ‘the sex ban’ episode. After he finds out [Penelope is Lady Whistledown], they don’t hook up for a bit and then they meet in the dark alleyway and they’re like ‘quick, quick, quick, quick, quick.’” [Laughs]

Photography by Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Jokes aside, the sexual side of their relationship is really beautifully written and I think in a lot of ways, the most realistic of the three seasons. How much of that was written into the script and what did you two add that maybe wasn’t on the page?

NC: “Thank you! We’re so proud of it! We did have a lot of control over those little moments.”

LN: “And it really was in the writing. It’s something that I’ve noticed more watching it back, just how real it feels. And I had a beautiful conversation with Adjoa Andoh [Lady Danbury] at the premier and she was just like, ‘it represents real intimacy and it’s authentic.’ Lots of people I think will resonate with that and see themselves in those situations. And when they laugh at something funny that happens or…”

NC: “Yeah, and it’s awkward and Penn says kind of the wrong thing and she doesn’t know how everything works and I love that there’s space for all of that. And it’s not just like they immediately know what to do. It feels much more true to life because in intimate moments like that, you do laugh, you do silly things, things go wrong. It was special that all that was included. And I love the way consent is handled in this season! It’s done in such a smooth, un-clunky way that it doesn’t take away from the sexiness of it. That’s something I definitely did not see represented when I was younger on the screen so it’s something that we really loved about the scene too.”

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