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Filming wrapped on the second series of Netflix smash period drama Bridgerton over the weekend, with the show set to air next year.

Creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen posted a photo of himself of himself hugging leads Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley, declaring a “wrap on season two.”

“So proud of this cast and crew who brought their A-games to work each and every day in this very challenging year,” he wrote. “And these two in this photo with me right here. Words are not enough. Coming in 2022.”

Bailey, who plays Anthony Bridgerton, also posted a photo of himself at the wrap party on Instagram, saying his “heart was full.”

The season two premiere has already aired for cast and crew, according to another of its stars, Nicola Coughlan, earlier this month.

The eight-part series will pick up with a fresh set of scandals following the conclusion of season one, which became Netflix’s most-watched show of all time and has only recently been eclipsed by Squid Game. A third and fourth series of Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland drama have already been commissioned.

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When Simone Ashley received the script for the second season of Netflix’s Bridgerton, she was wrapping the final episodes of the comedy-drama series Sex Education in London. On the verge of being a “technically unemployed actress again,” Ashley, a native of Surrey, England, landed the lead role of Bridgerton’s Kate Sharma. Ashley describes Kate as an “independent, competitive rule breaker, who comes across as quite strong and brave and has that fighting exterior, but she is also incredibly vulnerable.” (“Kate is also really witty and I’m not really like that,” she adds.) Ashley says she developed “really, really great chemistry” with costar Jonathan Bailey, who plays her love interest, Anthony Bridgerton. “Kate really puts her family first,” Ashley teases of the new season. “When the stakes of love come with family as well—it’s very different.”


Written by Ariana Yaptangco
Published October 19, 2021
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The Sex Education actress, one of PEOPLE’s Ones to Watch, shares the story of being cast as the new romantic lead on Bridgerton — including hearing from one of her favorite stars

Simone Ashley didn’t always see herself as a screen actress.

The British actress, 26, who will be the new romantic lead in season 2 of Bridgerton and is featured in PEOPLE’s 2021 Ones to Watch package in this week’s issue, initially had her heart set on musical theater.

“I grew up singing quite a lot and studied a lot of classical music, and then that kind of led into musical theater and I fell in love with musicals,” Ashley says. “Whilst I was studying musical theater, I actually started to watch a lot of movies, particularly [Quentin] Tarantino films.”

The Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds director’s work shifted Ashley’s perspective on her career. “I was really inspired to maybe try screen more,” she says. “I started auditioning for more film and TV screen-based projects and never really continued with musical theater.”

While a return to the stage may be a goal for another time, Ashley soon booked her first big role on Netflix’s Sex Education, which premiered its third season earlier this month.

“I was a very classical actor with pennies left in my bank account,” she says of the game-changing moment she got the call for Sex Education. To celebrate, “I took myself out for sushi and tuna tacos and some sake.”

Upon being cast as the headstrong Kate Sharma, a love interest for Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), on the No. 1 show on Netflix (well, until Squid Game, that is) earlier this year, Ashley simply got down to business. “Before I knew it, I was going into the studios where we film for fittings,” she says. “It happened incredibly fast.”

While she says she’s really “trying to just focus” and not get too overwhelmed by her newfound fame or any sort of pressure that comes with Bridgerton’s sophomore season, Ashley says there have been “some pinch-me moments,” especially when she heard from one of her favorite stars.

“When Mindy Kaling messaged me, because I’m a super hardcore fan of hers, I grew up looking up to her and her work and still do, that was a bit of a pinch-me moment, because I never really thought I would ever interact with Mindy,” Ashley says. “She just said congratulations and was just really lovely.”

Of course, Ashley “messaged back with loads of emojis!”

As for the show itself, Ashley clearly connects to her character, Kate Sharma, whom she describes as “sporty and competitive” and “really smart.”

“She listens to her own instincts and she’s not easily swayed by what everyone else is doing,” Ashley continues. “We meet her in different vulnerable moments and discover her background a little bit more and the family trauma that she holds.”

Bridgerton season 2 is expected to arrive on Netflix in 2022.


Written by Breanne L. Heldman
Published October 13, 2021
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You can see her briefly in the trailer here:


EXCLUSIVE: Bridgerton has found its Kate. Simone Ashley (Sex Education, Because the Night) has been tapped as the female lead opposite Jonathan Bailey in Season 2 of Netflix and Shondaland’s hugely popular Regency-era period drama series based on Julia Quinn’s romance novels.

The second season will chronicle the pursuit of a suitable marriage for the eldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony (Bailey), as chronicled in the second book of Quinn’s Bridgerton series, The Viscount Who Loved Me.

Ashley will play Anthony’s romantic interest, Kate Sharma. Newly arrived in London, Kate is a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools — Anthony Bridgerton very much included.

In Season 2, Bridgerton continues to break conventions on race. Anthony’s love interest (named Kate Sheffield in Quinn’s novel) and her family were conceived by the series’ producing team as being of Indian descent in a continuation of the reimagined, multi-racial world of early 1800s London high society created in Season 1, which included several major Black characters, including the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel).

As Season 2 leads, Bailey and Ahsley will succeed Page and Phoebe Dynevor, who became global stars as Simon and Daphne, the couple whose sweeping romance was at the center of Season 1. (Page is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend.)

British actress Ashley was already on Netflix’s radar; she is probably best known for her role as Olivia Hanan on the streamer’s popular series Sex Education. She is one of several cast additions for Season 2 of Bridgerton, which will start filming this spring in London.

“We have a bunch of new characters we are going to be introducing,” creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen said in announcing the Season 2 renewal on Today with Hoda & Jenna last month. “Anthony is going to have a love interest next season, and I think it’s going to be as sweeping and moving and as beautiful as viewers of the first season have come to expect from the show.”

The focal point of Season 2 was teased in the final minutes of the Season 1 finale when Anthony revealed to Daphne and Simon his plans of “finding and promptly declaring my intentions to my new viscountess” after the heartbreaking end of his relationship with opera singer Siena.

“We left him at the end of the first season at a bit of a crossroads, so I’m looking forward to jumping in and discovering how he fares on the marriage market,” Van Dusen said in the interview, noting that his hope is for Page and Dynevor to return.

With its vibrant mix of Jane Austen-meets-Gossip Girl and its contemporary storytelling redefining the period drama and romance genres, Bridgerton has captivated audiences around the world to shatter Netflix’s viewership records. It became the streamer’s biggest series ever as 82 million households globally watched the first season (partially or in its entirety) in the first four weeks.

The series also stars Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Claudia Jessie (Eloise Bridgerton), Ruby Barker (Marina Thompson), Luke Thompson (Benedict Bridgerton), Luke Newton (Colin Bridgerton), Ruby Stokes (Francesca Bridgerton), Will Tilston (Gregory Bridgerton), Florence Hunt (Hyacinth Bridgerton), Ruth Gemmell (Lady Violet Bridgerton), Bessie Carter (Prudence Featherington), Harriet Cains (Philipa Featherington), Polly Walker (Lady Portia Featherington), Ben Miller (Lord Featherington), Sabrina Bartlett (Siena Rosso), Martins Imhangbe (Will Mondrich), Kathryn Drysdale (Madame Genevieve Delacroix) and Lorraine Ashbourne (Mrs. Varley).

Van Dusen executive produces with Shondaland’s Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.

Ashley had a major recurring role on Neil Cross’ 2020 ITV limited series The Sister. Her resume also includes an arc on Season 3 of Broadchurch. Ashley is repped by Gersh, Identity Agency Group in the UK and attorney Derek Kroeger at Myman Greenspan Fox.

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