‘Bridgerton’: Nicola Coughlan is Netflix’s new comedy star

With three shows in the 2020 streamer, the Irish actor makes laughter look effortless.

Nicola Coughlan was the first person to get a role in Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” in the role of Penelope Featherington, one of the “sad sows” of the upper class that the overbearing mother prepared for the 1813 London marriage market.

The description of the withering was courtesy of Lady Whistledown, the mysterious owner of the gossip cloth in that series that alternates between persecution and flattery by Tony. But really, Coughlan insists that poor Penelope, who was forever forced by her mother to dress in awful neon colors – acting on the assumption that looking like a deranged, psychedelic peacock is the best way to get a daughter a suitor – makes the best impossible sartorial situation in the series. starts streaming today.

“Some people would say, ‘Ugh, it’s so sticky,’ and I’d be offended because they’re beautiful!” Coughlan said. “I would be in love with every piece even though I know they are overdone! Getting into a ball like Featherington when everyone is there in their muted blues and pink colors – it’s so much fun. “

“Bridgerton” is the third show featuring Irish Coughlan and airing on Netflix in America. The first were two seasons of “Derry Girls,” a noisy and candid look at high school life in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. (Coughlan plays Clare, a “little lesbian” quintet of a friend.) The other was in a special holiday episode of “Great British Baking Show,” where in honor of “Cabaret” she made a cake with a hat in a derby and then a small emotional breakdown wondering you insult Lisa Minnelli because it didn’t turn out perfectly.

But it is precisely “Bridgerton,” from Christmas, that Coughlan will make a household name, with her depiction of the resilience, liveliness, and wit of a character that will inspire repeated viewings. The relativity that Coughlan brings to her characters is a constant in her work, no matter the time period and no matter how different the miles for women are compared to today.

“That’s what draws me to the characters and terrifies me at the same time,” she said. “I like to play characters – I’m not very good at playing my own versions, so I prefer to step into some shoes that feel very, very different. But there is also fear in that. Penelope is this English accent made of cut glass, and I am from the west of Ireland and I am not an aristocrat. I think it’s more fun to do something that scares you a little bit, that pushes you, that challenges you. “

Nicola Coughlan, center, in “Derry Girls”

To make sure the properties from the “Bridgerton” era were correct, Coughlan said the cast relied on a historical advisor, Dr. Hannah Greig of York University, and discovered that we have a solid, formal vision of people from that era is not entirely true. All of our shared memories of the Region period come from novels and portraits – and for the vast majority of these depictions, people behaved best and buttoned up.

In reality, Greig told them, they were sloths lounging around the house, drinking whiskey and smoking in the garden like all of us. “We were very lucky because the books about Bridgerton are only 20 years old, so we didn’t adapt‘ Pride and Prejudice ’or‘ Emma ’where there are certain expectations,” Coughlan said. “It was kind of like it was free to have fun and create what we wanted Regency London to look like. This is our version of Regency London, not the documentary version. It is much more Technicolor. “

Penelope’s crime partner in the series is Eloise Bridgerton, a chatty, chatty second oldest sister of the clan. They are played by Claudia Jessie, the relationship between the two is refreshed in the woman and woman settings in the show, and it also highlights the new money compared to the old money class dynamics. The connection is so important that the scene between Penelope and Eloise was used for Jessie’s first audition. The Bridgertons have been established and can therefore keep Eloise out of the marriage market for a year so as not to compete with her older sister; The Featherings are in such a tight spot that they have to present all three sisters in the same season – and their cousin from the country.

BRIDGERTON (L to R) NICOLA COUGHLAN as PENELOPE FEATHERINGTON and CLAUDIA JESSIE as ELOISE BRIDGERTON in episode 102 BRIDGERTON Cr.  LOVE NETFLIX / NETFLIX © 2020

Nicola Coughlan and Claudia Jessie in “Bridgerton”

KINDNESS NETFLIX / NETFLIX

For Jessie, working with Coughlan provided unbridled joy to the pathos of the larger, more plateau, and vicious social position in which the two characters exist. “We were really excited to show a really nice female friendship, no competition, no jealousy, just to the pure friendship they had since childhood and which they will have forever,” Jessie said. “It’s such a crazy time for those girls in this wild marriage market, where there’s this bizarre ritual where they’re dealing with potential suitors – and they’re not fully subscribed to what surrounds them.”

“Bridgerton” is based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling series of eight books; this season of the Netflix show is mostly focused on the first book “The Duke and I”. Although there was no talk about the second season of the show, in the first there is a hint of information that indicates the potential for the continuation of the action for Penelope, which is the focus of the fourth book in the series. (There are no spoilers here, folks, but if you know … you know.)

“When I got the role, I went and started reading books and I read the fourth book […] which shocked me a lot! “Coughlan said and met with the directors of each episode to adjust his performance accordingly.” It was something I was very aware of in certain scenes, even when the focus was on the Duke and Daphne. It was a lot of fun to work. ”

“Bridgerton” Season 1 is available for streaming on Netflix.

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