The actress won't be on hand at Sunday's Emmys, but will be hoping for a big night: 'I’m filming the next day so I’ll be asleep!'
There won't be a heavy Bridgerton presence at Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards, but series star Nicola Coughlan will be excitedly cheering on the series' nominations from across the Atlantic, where she and her co-stars are busy filming the hotly anticipated second season. The period drama, adapted from Julia Quinn's best-selling novels, already won its first Emmy over the weekend for Outstanding Period and/or Character Hairstyling.
"It was amazing! It was so exciting," Coughlan, who plays fan-favorite Penelope Featherington, told ET's Lauren Zima on Wednesday of the recognition the Shondaland drama received from the Television Academy. "It's the biggest awards in television so to be recognized by them is phenomenal. We were all super excited. We [are] in the middle of filming season 2 right now, so the new season 2 group chat was going off. It's called 'Bridger-2,' which I picked that name and felt very proud. I felt like, 'That's so smart!'"
Bridgerton earned 12 Emmy nominations for its freshman season, including several top categories such as Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for breakout star Regé-Jean Page, who exited after one season. The nominations, Coughlan said, have inspired the cast to make even more of a mark in season 2.
"It's such an exciting thing when you do a show that anyone watches and connects to. But the level at which people connected to Bridgerton and the scale is really mind-blowing. I think we really went in more relaxed, which I know maybe some people wouldn't," the actress noted. "I think we felt so much love from the fans of the show and support. Also, the book which this season is based on is like the big fan favorite," the actress said, referring to the popular sequel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which follows eldest Bridgerton sibling Anthony as he embarks on a journey to find a suitable wife. Things change when he meets Kate, a character who's been reimagined for the TV series.
"When you do season 1, you don't know if you're gonna get a season 2, but we were like, 'I really hope we get a chance to tell that story because people love it so much.' And Kate is such a fiery character," Coughlan teased. "She's like this strong, independent woman. We really wanted to get to that and the fact that we get to tell [it] is a real privilege. I think there's also the fun of a second season that you don't have to do the exposition in order to be like, 'This is the world of Bridgerton.' People get what Bridgerton is now, and it's become this phenomena, which is bonkers. But yeah, people know what they're heading into, but they are not ready."
The upcoming season follows Anthony as he "intends to dominate the social season." Sex Education's Simone Ashley will play Anthony's love interest, Kate Sharma, newcomer Charithra Chandran will play Kate's younger sister, Edwina, and English actress Shelley Conn will play Kate and Edwina's mother, Mary. (Coughlan called the Sharma family "stunning," also describing their style as "lavish and rich." "They're quite jeweled," she hinted of their looks.) With Page's absence in season 2, but Phoebe Dynevor's Daphne still very much involved in the family's shenanigans, Coughlan promised there's little to worry about without the Duke around.
"Daphne and Anthony have such a good relationship and he involved himself so much in her and the Duke that now Daphne's going to be like, 'I want to do what you're doing. I'm going to figure it out,' and there's a lot going on. It's extremely dramatic," Coughlan previewed, hinting that there's a spoiler-filled monumental scene involving the entire ensemble they're filming Thursday that people will want to discuss. "Claudia Jessie, who plays Eloise [Bridgerton], literally sat in my trailer yesterday and said, 'People are going to die when this happens and they're going to die when this happens and they're not going to believe that it's ampled up... It's very epic this year, I feel like is how I would describe it. But yeah, the Duke is just busy. The Duke is playing James Bond in 1814, so that's what he's doing. I'm going to get them to write that in. It's not in the script yet but I will!"
Jonathan Bailey, who plays Anthony, previously teased that season 2 may be even "sexier" than ever and Coughlan had to agree.
"The chemistry is quite major, I can say that. I mean, Penelope not as much...," Coughlan admitted, adding that her character's moment "may be coming." "There is a book dedicated to Penelope so it will get there. Currently she's still a wallflower. She's a working lady. She's an independent woman in Regency London so she's doing a lot." (Bridgerton has already been picked up through season 4. The Penelope-centric book is No. 4 in the series, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.)
But there's one reveal -- the game-changing finale surprise that Penelope is secretly moonlighting as the town's all-knowing gossip, Lady Whistledown -- that will complicate Penelope's story just a little and serve as a big departure from the books.
"It's got a whole lot spicier I will say. You definitely see more sides to her. We find out at the end of season 1 [that she's Lady Whistledown], that is there but we don't get to explore it. But the world cracks open," Coughlan teased. "I feel like the Bridgerton world has grown and you're going to see a lot more sides to her. She's a sassy chick."
Though there's no indication that Page will be returning for a surprise cameo in season 2, the former star did leave the door open for a potential return. Asked whether there could be a Simon surprise in store for fans, "not that I have heard," Coughlan said. "They could surprise us too. I haven't seen anything to reflect that but it could happen. Stranger things have happened!"
As for how Coughlan plans to spend her Sunday night, she confessed she'll likely be in bed already.
"I’m trying to figure out what time it will be, it'll probably be at like 2 a.m. for us maybe and I’m filming the next day so I’ll be asleep. Very glamorous, isn't it?" she joked, adding later that if Bridgerton comes home with a big haul on Sunday night, the celebration will likely consist of an on-set favorite. "I am going to be like, 'Pizza, pizza!' It's always an exciting thing because the days on set are long and when pizza comes, everyone gets very excited."
For more on Bridgerton, watch below.
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