‘Bridgerton’ Stars Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton Talk Stepping into the Spotlight for Season 3

The actors tell TheWrap how they deepened the relationship between childhood friends Colin and Penelope

Bridgerton
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in "Bridgerton" (Credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix)

While “Bridgerton” Season 3 has lit the internet aflame since its debut, Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s journey to lead the Netflix drama’s third season has been several years in the making.

“We found out during Season 2,” Newton told TheWrap of learning his character, Colin Bridgerton, would lead Season 3 alongside Coughlan’s Penelope Featherington. “We got to take a step back, enjoy where our characters went throughout Season 2, but also prepare ourselves and see how everyone else had done it [and] experience what they were going through in that moment as well.”

Luckily, Newton could lean on his on-screen brother Jonathan Bailey, who led Season 2 as Anthony Bridgerton opposite Simone Ashley, who played Kate Sharma. “He was there for me throughout the process of Season 3,” Newton said, noting his gratitude. “It feels like we have that sort of brotherly bond that you see in the show — I felt very connected to that.”

Ashley and Phoebe Dynevor (Daphne) provided a similar support system for Coughlan, who was not lost of the gravity of leading an installment of the buzzy Netflix sensation, saying “this show is huge — it’s unfathomably big.”

As is “Bridgerton” tradition, both Colin and Penelope underwent a glow-up for Season 3, shifting their color palettes to represent a new chapter as they embark on their love story. Showrunner Jess Brownell told TheWrap Penelope’s transformation looked to the “opposite end of the color wheel” to distance herself from the citrus colors worn by her family, while Colin’s makeover embraced a darker color palette akin to a pirate to indicate his worldliness and confidence.

“The fitting is kind of the first time you get to see the journey that our characters have been on in the time that we don’t see them — that was before we’d got any scripts,” Newton said. “I got to see these browns, sort of dusty, worn-in jackets, I was like, ‘okay, he’s had a wild time. He’s really lived an experience.’”

After observing Colin and Penelope as what Coughlan considered “babies” in Season 1 and wannabe grown-ups in Season 2, Coughlan enjoyed seeing the pair embracing adulthood, while admitting they have quite long way to go from where they are at the start of Season 3.

“This season, it’s nice to see them as adults, but also realize they have so much growth to do [and] they do a lot of it together, which is really beautiful,” Coughlan said.

Whereas love interests for the first two Bridgerton siblings — Simon (Regé-Jean Page) and Kate (Ashley) — were introduced at the onset of their respective seasons, viewers were already well acquainted with both Colin and Penelope, enabling Coughlan and Newton to deepen their character’s relationship rather than establish it.

“We’re not introducing a new character, so we really get to dig deep in into these storylines of both our characters but also everyone else that you’ve all already seen before,” Newton said. “First watching Episode 1, I was blown away by the pace of it and how much we get into these stories immediately.”

“We had the first two seasons to ease ourselves into their dynamic,” Coughlan added, looking back on Penelope’s unrequited feelings for Colin throughout the past seasons. “That helped immeasurably in playing them this season and developing [the love story] with them.”

The pair also shares a connection through their love of writing, which Newton sees as an outlet for Colin, who is “quite internal and keeps everything locked up.” “It’s also nice for Penelope to be able to see that side of him, to see him — for want of a better phrase — as an open book,” Newton said, noting that Penelope can glean bits and pieces of his travels from his writing.

Of course, as Penelope applauds Colin’s writing, Newton noted Colin has “no idea how much that means … to get a compliment from the most accomplished writer in London” as Colin remains in the dark about Penelope’s secret identity as gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, though the other shoe might drop in Part 2.

“Bridgerton” Season 3, Part 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Part 2 premieres June 13. 

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