Season 2 of Bridgerton has a leading lady who isn’t afraid to get a bit dirty.
As Kate Sharma, Simone Ashley takes her character’s strong-willed, unconventional approach to an extreme in a scene where she ends up slipping and sliding in a pool of mud alongside Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey). It’s a hilarious moment rife with sexual tension — and a pang of regret for the absolutely stunning costume she’s ruining.
Ashley reveals that they had four copies of the dress to ensure they could smoothly shoot the scene. At first, she was a bit horrified at the prospect of ruining the wardrobe piece, but the longer they worked on the scene, the more she accepted it. “After one day and many takes, you lose the novelty of sitting in the mud and getting dirty and stuff,” she tells EW. “I just got really used to it and got used to wearing this amazing embroidered dress covered in mud.”
Though she gets literally dirty, in terms of her central love story with Anthony, there’s far less metaphorical filth in the show’s sophomore run. Their slow burn romance predicated on a mutual loathing and undeniable attraction isn’t consummated until episode 7. But in Ashley’s mind, that’s exactly as it should be. We called her up to get the story behind this more chaste season — and the scene in which she and Bailey couldn’t stop laughing.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There are some changes from the book, as with any adaptation. What did you make of Kate being more of a genuine obstacle to a serious relationship between Edwina (Charithra Chandran) and Anthony?
SIMONE ASHLEY: I didn’t see it in that way. And I don’t think [creator] Chris [Van Dusen] did either. Chris would say it’s obvious that it’s Kate and Anthony’s — Kanthony’s — romance from the get-go. I wouldn’t say that it was anything of an obstacle. We’re just exploring the sisterly love and the love between Kate and Anthony. And then this amazing relationship between Edwina and Anthony, of these two people, as Anthony says in episode 6, who are incredibly similar to one another, who have these duties as the diamond and as the Viscount. I never really see Kate as an obstacle. There’s just something about her with Anthony. If anything, they’re like magnets that just slowly come together as the series goes on.
There has been some unfortunate internet backlash to the concept of a love triangle, and I think that’s arisen out of a fear of these two sisters being pitted against each other, which once you see it, that’s not the case. But what have you made of that knee-jerk response?
I didn’t know it was that kind of response. If I’m honest, I heard of a few things, but I’m very good at not indulging in that stuff. The show is amazing. What we’ve created is beautiful. Chris Van Dusen nailed it, and Charithra, her performance is just amazing, especially in episode 6. She completely rocks it. We really achieved the strong sisterly relationship where we hopefully can encourage other women to love each other in the same way that they both do. I’m waving the the Kate and Edwina flag.
By nature of the storytelling this season, you have far fewer intimate scenes than Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page did in season 1. Was that a relief to you when you got the scripts?
I didn’t really think anything of it. I love the fact that it’s a slow burner, and that we earn those incredible fireworks and romantic moments between Kate and Anthony towards the end. But we got drip-fed the scripts, so we didn’t get all eight of them as we started filming. It was every few months we would get a new episode. Me and Jonny were both like, when’s it going to happen? Is it going to happen in this one? When’s it going to happen? And then when we finally read it, we were like, “Ohhhhh, [this] is really cool.”
You also have all these intense scenes where you get so close to kissing or his head is just over your shoulder, and then, there’s the bee sting scene. How did you craft those? Were there times where you cracked up in each other’s faces or things like that?
If there’s a blooper reel consisting of all the times Jonny and I cracked up, I think it would be very adored. We were laughing every day. But there was a scene when we were filming the hunt scene where we’re both holding the gun. It’s a very intimate moment. It’s long silence, and he’s breathing down her ear and she’s holding this gun. It’s incredibly romantic and sexy. And one of our stomachs made this really funny noise, and the whole moment was lost and we just burst out laughing. But also, in regards to your question about all the tension and then not being able to kiss and coming so close to it. We actually were firmly directed like, “Too much!” or “You’re not allowed to kiss, so this isn’t gonna happen. Not yet. Not yet.” Some of the moments were so explosive that we needed that firm direction of, “Don’t go there just yet. We’re only in episode 3. So, hold back.”
What was the most challenging scene to shoot?
For me personally, I would say the end of episode 7 — the argument scene between Kate and Anthony before they get it on. Just because of filming logistics. It was a night shoot. And it was freezing outside. It was a very heated scene that we wanted to get right. We got there and we achieved it. Working with Jonny on the scenes, we always bring it and we always get there. But that was challenging just in terms of the filming logistics of it all.
How did you and Charithra build that beautiful sisterly bond?
I always say Charithra, she’s just such a likable person. She’s a people person. She loves to socialize. She’s full of energy. She’s super chatty. She’s super funny. She’s always dancing and singing and just having a laugh. I really appreciated that energy from her. It was a packed filming schedule for nearly 11 months, and to have those vibes from her were deeply appreciated.
Written by Maureen Lee Lenker
Published March 25, 2022