The male and female leads of the Netflix series share juicy details from the set and their characters’ volatile relationship
Bodacious. Scandalous. Sexy.
These are just some of the adjectives fans have used to describe Bridgerton. A massive streaming hit when it premiered on Netflix on Christmas Day in 2020—and in the process, making our lockdown lives immeasurably more bearable—the first season of the Regency-set drama introduced us to the Bridgerton family comprising matriarch Violet and her eight children including eldest son Lord Anthony Bridgerton.
Other fan-favourite characters included Queen Charlotte (played to delicious perfection by Golda Rosheuvel) and Lady Danbury (an equally superb Adjoa Andoh), and the mysterious Lady Whistledown (the voice of Dame Julie Andrews) who kept the town up to date on the scandalous goings-on in a newsletter. Then there was Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) who was—spoiler alert!—revealed to be the mystery newsletter writer at the end of Season 1.
But at the heart of it all was the love story of Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest Bridgerton daughter, and the Duke of Hastings Simon Basset portrayed by the dishy Regé-Jean Page who became an overnight star through the series.
Based on the novels of Julia Quinn, the Shondaland production is also a lush spectacle filled with a cast so diverse, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before—certainly not for a British period drama. The eagerly awaited Season 2 promises more of the same, only this time, the central love story revolves around Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley who is new to the cast).
Kate arrives in London with her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) to help the latter find a suitable husband. Anthony, who is ready to end his single life though perhaps not his rakish ways, is also looking for a suitable match and has his eyes set on Edwina, much to the disapproval of Kate who thinks him unworthy of Edwina’s affections.
Jonathan, how did it feel to come back to Season 2?
Jonathan Bailey (JB): It was kind of wild because it was this extraordinary thing that happened at a time when the world was in absolute crisis. It was a sort of love letter to the world when there wasn’t much light. I’m just beginning to adjust to the understanding of how Bridgerton has impacted people.
I always knew that it was going to be Anthony’s story but it was complicated and weird leading up to it. The first time I left the flat since lockdown was to go and meet Simone for the first time. I don’t think anyone knew that it would be quite as good as what Simone had brought. The moment I met her, we instantly felt like we knew what we were going to do.
What was it like to go from being the antagonist in Season 1 to the romantic lead in this season?
JB: It’s complicated. Both Anthony and Kate are heads of their families, and they are all about pragmatism. Anthony himself has such a high level of perfectionism, whether for himself or for his family. You can probably count on one hand the number of times what he says is aligned with what he feels. He’s in need of someone to show him that he is worth something outside his role in the family and in the society. He’s a compelling character, and it’s brilliant to be able to play him.
Simone, how did it feel to join the cast of Bridgerton?
Simone Ashley (SA): I was nervous and excited. What made it so easy was Jonny who was so welcoming, and made me feel comfortable and heard. We were in the middle of a pandemic, and entering this world in which the cast and crew are very much a family, and the huge fanbase… it was just wild. I really can’t think of a better word.
What can you tell us about Kate Sharma?
SA: When we first meet Kate, she wants to blend into the background. She doesn’t want to be on the marriage market and is completely focused on her plan to find her sister a suitor. And then she meets Anthony who is this ginormous obstacle, physically and emotionally.
Anthony and Kate are quite similar in that they are so distracted by the responsibilities and duties in their lives that they don’t get a second to listen to their hearts. And when they are alone together, they are very present and have to deal with their feelings.
Did you enjoy playing her?
SA: She’s smart and emotionally intelligent. She prioritises her family and sister. And she has a lot of patience. That was fun to play.
You mentioned that the both of you hit it off right away. What was the chemistry like on set?
SA: It was a strong partnership from the get-go. There were moments when we would just look at each other and we would understand each other. It’s such a gift to have a scene partner like Jonny; he gave me so much to react off.
JB: I realise that it might never be the same again, the uniqueness of such an intimate and complex partnership, an alchemy and magical bubble that we existed together. For both of us, it was a massive experience.
What was it like to shoot during the pandemic what with all the social restrictions?
JB: Netflix and Shondaland smashed it (with Covid SOPs). Everyone felt incredibly safe. We were tested to an inch of our lives!
SA: It was bizarre for everyone but as a community we all knew just how privileged we were to be working during the pandemic.
What are you most excited for fans to see in Season 2?
JB: There are so many great moments that I don’t know where to start. I’m thrilled for fans to experience Kate and her coming into the family and how much she dislodges Anthony that he’s become even more of a stranger to his family.
SA: Bridgerton is all about family and you want to be a part of these families—the banter, the inside jokes, and everything in between. It’s what everyone has been waiting for. It will be like seeing someone you love for the first time in a long time.
JB: And there’s no other show like it where you get a robust sweeping love story that’s different from the last.
Written by Brian Cheong
Published March 1, 2022