BRIDGERTON Stars Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton on TOWN & COUNTRY’s May Digital Cover

Posted on May 14, 2024


BRIDGERTON stars Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton on TOWN & COUNTRY’s May digital cover photographed by Mei Tao and styled by MaryKate Boylan.

Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton aren’t holding anything back. In BRIDGERTON season three, premiering Thursday, May 16 on Netflix, the actors who play Penelope and Colin forged a bond to bring romantic comedy—okay, and a bit of bodice ripping—to the Regency-era hit.




Luke Newton on how unlike the first two installments of Bridgerton, which introduced new leads, the third season marks the first instance when the audience will have spent significant time with both stars: “It was nice to sit in those two roles for a couple of years and work and build on our friendship together. It felt like it had to be that way. I know for other cast members that have come in, maybe they’ve met a couple of times before they shoot a romantic scene—or they shoot the first time they meet. It was really nice to already have that relationship with Nic, and know that we were going to get there at some point. It all aligns: It had to be that way; it had to be that we had history between us.”

Nicola Coughlan on how their [her and Newton’s] characters going from friends to lovers was an easy shift: “I don’t want to say [we did] nothing. We worked hard together, but we didn’t have to do anything convoluted. We had been holding back for two seasons! I was playing a character that was in love with him and he was meant not to notice. So for me, finally having the attention reciprocated between the characters meant they just unlocked something new for us. And thank god we’ve had that foundation of friendship and trust with one another, because I truly can’t imagine doing Bridgerton with someone else.”

On how Coughlan and Newton are aware of the “Polin” fandom: Coughlan and Newton could be co-presidents of the Polin fan club. In fact, they often send each other fan edits and TikToks they come across of their characters. “Nicola has got her finger on the pulse,” Newton says with a smile. “She’ll see a lot of the stuff and send me anything that’s funny.” (Coughlan is quick to add that Newton too sends her his share of posts.)

Coughlan on how she was mindful of what the “Polin” fandom was hoping to see in the season while filming: “It’s a really careful balance of having so much love for [the fans] and wanting to do their love for the couple justice. Once I get to set, then you just have to live as much in the moment for that character as you can, because you would be doing it a disservice trying to think of all of the things they want. You’re never going to please everybody.”

Coughlan on fan-favorite scenes that are part of season three: “A lot of the fans are really desperate for Pen to address Colin as ‘Mister Bridgerton,’ because she never has—they always just call each other by their first names. That was something that I said to Jess [Brownell, the showrunner]. I said, ‘If that could be included at some point, I know they would love that.’…I do believe there are a lot of really special moments for the hardcore fans. I hope they feel seen and happy.”

Newton on the friends-to-lovers trope: “I actually don’t think friends-to-lovers is something that happens in my life. If I meet someone I know immediately. There’s a difference between me and Colin.”

On whether Newton believes in love at first sight: “I think so. I’ve felt that. I’ve met someone and been immediately infatuated with them. That’s something that’s more me than Colin.”

Coughlan on how she feels that “friends-to-lovers” is the healthiest way to go: “You’ve skipped all of the posturing and all of the initial things you do when you meet someone—you try and pretend to have only nice underwear, or that you don’t sit on the couch and eat your dinner off your lap. Because they’ve been friends first, they go, ‘I know you.’ Deep, true, abiding love comes from when you love the bones of someone. You love them deeply in their entirety. That’s a thing that you get with friends-to-lovers, because you love them first as a friend.”

Coughlan on how her Penelope is reminiscent of Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary and Princess Diana: Zellweger, she says, “wasn’t in my head, but to play her as this goof, as this awkward [girl]—I loved that. I revel in that stuff.” The foundation of her character, however, can be traced to none other than Princess Diana. “In season one, The Crown was about to come out with the first Lady Di season,” explaining that Diana influenced Penelope a bit, especially that “look where she can kind of look up, but she can’t really.” Like Diana, she says, Penelope is “someone that feels like an outsider in high society.”

Coughlan on how she and Newton would prepare for their intimate scenes together before appearing on set: “Having a united front was very important to us.” Over text they would trade their favorite sex scenes and onscreen kisses from movies and TV. “I really loved the one from Atonement, and it’s wild when you watch that back, how little you actually see and how much is in your imagination.”

Newton on approaching Penelope and Colin’s various intimate moments: “There was never a thought of ‘Oh, let’s make this look really sexy’ or ‘Let’s make this a really romantic scene.’ It was just, ‘Let’s stay true to these characters.’” He adds that staying true to Colin and Penelope meant “making moments of it awkward and quirky. There’s humor in it, where they just laugh at each other and it’s so genuine. It really has a sense of showing their friendship from the start. Me and Nic wanted to honor that and keep that in the show.”

On how the theme of Bridgerton season three is the power of friendship and how Coughlan and Newton’s friendship offscreen was the key to unlocking Penelope and Colin’s friends-to-lovers romance: “The things that Penelope loves about Colin are, weirdly, the things I love about Luke: his kindness, what a good, caring person he is, his respect for women,” Coughlan says. Newton is similarly effusive in his praise for Coughlan: “You’re sat in the job for so long that you can’t ever imagine anyone else playing [Penelope]. It’s not even something that I can describe. She is that character to me.”

Coughlan on how their scenes have a different energy from the past two lead couples: “I quantify [Bridgerton] in my head as season one being about passion, season two being about longing, and season three being about romance,” Coughlan says. In Penelope and Colin’s love story, there are “those moments of beautiful levity—and levity doesn’t have to be being the butt of the joke.” Ultimately, Coughlan says, “What I really adore about this season is in those intimate moments, there are moments where they’re laughing. It’s that gorgeous human connection when you can be truly silly with the person you love. That really touches my heart, and it was gorgeous to do that with my friend who I adore.”


[Photo Credit: Mei Tao for Twon & Country Magazine]

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