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Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton on Carriage Scene

Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton on Carriage Scene

[This story contains major spoilers from Bridgerton season three, Part 1.]

Dearest gentle readers, Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) finally get together at the end of Bridgerton season three, Part 1.

The couple, often regarded as one of the favorites in Julia Quinn’s novel series that serves as the basis of the Netflix hit show, have spent their whole lives in love with each other — even if one of them didn’t realize it until now. And their relationship seems to be in the best place ever when the first four episodes end. But, for how long?

In the final moments of Part 1 (the season has a two-part release), Colin admits he has feelings for Penelope. And after the very steamy carriage scene (a favorite from the book), they’re on track to be married, with the Bridgerton sibling asking his bride-to-be, “Penelope Featherington, are you going to marry me or not?”

While there could not have been a sweeter way to begin their love story, one massive secret looms over the happy couple: Penelope is Lady Whistledown. With Colin proclaiming early in the season that he will do whatever he can to ruin the Ton’s gossip columnist if he ever finds out who she is, chances are that their beautiful bubble will soon be popped.

“I think it makes the story just so juicy that we constantly have that noise in the back of the room,” Luke Newton tells The Hollywood Reporter of Pen’s secret. “No matter how happy things are and how good things are, [it can’t last].”

Below, the stars of Bridgerton season three open up about what’s to come for the couple in part two as they shift from friends to lovers.

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Season one’s romance was immediate. Season two’s was more slow-burning. And your season is a little bit of both. How did you approach Polin’s storyline differently from Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon’s (Regé-Jean Page) and Kate (Simone Ashley) and Anthony’s (Jonathan Bailey)?

NICOLA COUGHLAN I guess it was how it was written. I think you can’t overthink too much. And also, when [showrunner] Jess Brownell talked us through the run of the season, it was really exciting. The pace was very clear. The story was very clear. And it felt like that work was done for us, so all we really had to do was just very much commit to it.

LUKE NEWTON Even at the premiere the other night, I realized how much can happen in one episode. And I think, in previous seasons, we needed to introduce everyone, particularly in season one. It took a while to introduce all these different families and these lead characters, and for us, because it focuses so much on Colin and Pen’s love story, we get to hit the ground running straight away, which is so exciting. And then welcome new characters as we go on.

Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) with Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton).

Liam Daniel/Netflix

The famous carriage scene from the book Romancing Mr. Bridgerton takes place at the end of Part 1. Why do you think Penelope and Colin’s intimate scenes are so heightened?

COUGHLAN Fans have invested in the characters for two seasons. For anyone, it’s easy to say girls who have felt like this — guys who have felt like this, anyone who’s felt like this — anyone who has had this crush and this love for someone who doesn’t see them, and it was just written so beautifully. It had everything. I always say that scene for me has everything that makes Bridgerton magic, because it has the romance, suspense, drama, the miscommunication and then the sexiness, and then the beautiful moments of humor. But it was a scene that stuck out to me, certainly when I read the book all those years ago, and it’s that familiarity. I feel like that moment where they laugh together is really magic, because that’s true intimacy — to me, anyway.

NEWTON I think the fans being along for the ride the whole time really makes it special, like a shared experience. The experience that [Nicola and I] shared together, but also they’ve experienced it. They’ve seen us now onscreen for five years, although it’s only three seasons. They’ve been along the whole time and watching us develop these characters together. So, yeah, it was a really special moment to be like, “Wow, it got to the end.” It was crazy.

Also at the end of Part 1, Penelope and Colin seem to be the definition of happy. They’re on cloud nine. But Pen’s Whistledown secret looms over them. How do you think Colin is going to take the news in Part 2, assuming he finds out?

NEWTON It’s interesting going into that, because, how is he going to find out? Because, realistically, he didn’t see Penelope who was essentially in love with him for three previous years. His whole life, she’s kind of been infatuated by him, and he’s never seen that. So, how is he going to discover this massive secret she’s a pro at keeping? But I think it makes the story so juicy that we constantly have that noise in the back of the room that’s constantly going, and you’re like, no matter how happy things are and how good things are… I also love the bit that Colin is just in his real giddy mood.

COUGHLAN I love episodes five and six when they’re in that giddy, giddy time, and they’re so in love because that’s the thing. Some of the best things in this show are when you see people truly in love with one another, so blissfully happy.

NEWTON That must have been a terrible bit for Pen, because you’re jumping from moments of joy to really the realization of like, “Yeah, well, I’m the ticking time clock.”

Newton as Colin Bridgerton with Coughlan as Penelope Featherington.

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Over the last two seasons, Pen and Colin have had an unspoken intimacy from being friends, and Penelope’s longtime crush on him. You explore physical intimacy in Part 1 a little and more in Part 2. How did you prepare for the dynamic shift from friends to lovers?

NEWTON I think it’s been a slow preparation since our very first scene. I wouldn’t say there’s a drastic difference in the spark and connection between them. We see it in the first episode of season one. It’s not like there was nothing, and it was purely friendship. There’s always been an interest from both and whether Colin’s been clouded by other things that get in the way in his pursuit for a purpose or whatever, there’s always been a connection between them. It’s been the slowest burn out of all the love stories within the show. So, it never really felt like we had to go, “Alright, let’s step it up.” We definitely tried to pace it throughout those episodes.

COUGHLAN We were very conscious of that, because we wanted each moment to feel really earned. We were reticent about the sexy dream scene. That juxtaposed with them having their first kiss and this imagined first meeting where they’re sometimes way more calm and sexy, like, “I’ve been thinking about you,” and “Oh, I’ve been thinking about you.” Then their first actual meeting under that tree is so awkward and terrible. I now love that that’s the reality.

NEWTON I think also because we were living it, and we were experiencing it, it was like, “Oh, the viewers can’t see them have this like really passionate kiss in the dream sequence.” But then it’s hard for us to appreciate going, “It’s the dream,” and viewers are going to take that and go, “Oh, I wish that was real.” So I remember us having these conversations, like that’s ruining the carriage.

COUGHLAN But it doesn’t. It’s hard to think of the whole run of the story when you’re in the midst of filming because, obviously, you film out of a sequence.

NEWTON That’s when it’s like, hat’s off to Jess [Brownell], she just knew exactly what she was doing.

Bridgerton season three, Part 1, is streaming on Netflix now. Part 2 releases June 13. Read Brownell’s take on Part 1.

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