Bridgerton: 25 facts about the making of new Netflix series
- Credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX
Already binge-watched Bridgerton on Netflix over Christmas?
Here's 25 behind-the-scenes facts about the making of the Shondaland series for Netflix.
1. This wasn’t the first time American television producer Shonda Rhimes and Julie Andrews have worked together. Rhimes wrote the screenplay for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
2. Bridgerton’s corsets were created by the renowned corset maker Mister Pearl, who made Kim Kardashian's Thierry Mugler corset for the 2019 Met Gala.
3. Bridgerton's director of photography Jeffrey Jur previously worked on the pilot episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and was also the DP on the classic 1987 film Dirty Dancing, which can’t have hurt given the number of balls featured in Bridgerton. Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton, recalls the fan club Jur had on set. “That man is a genius,” she says. “Our directors’ assistant made shirts with Jeffrey Jur’s face on it for everyone to wear, so there were a couple of days when everyone was wearing a shirt with Jeff Jur on it. Everyone loves Jeff.”
4. Queen Charlotte, played by Golda Rosheuvel , is widely regarded to be the first mixed-race member of the British Royal family. She was married to King George III, who was depicted in the biopic The Madness of King George. Together, Queen Charlotte and King George had 15 children.
5. The colour palette for the classic Bridgerton blue used in the series was inspired by the well-known Wedgwood hue. Wedgwood, the fine china, porcelain and luxury accessories brand, began shortly before the Regency period and its wares graced the tables of many an English monarch and other heads of state.
6. Bridgerton filmed in a number of spectacular historic locations across the UK. Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, found herself especially enamoured with one location in particular. “We shot at Hatfield House, which was the house that they filmed The Favourite in. I did sneak upstairs because I wanted to see Olivia Colman’s room. I was trying to rub the walls so that her acting talent would rub onto me!”
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7. The Bridgerton and Featherington families both have their own symbols that are used throughout the series and eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot these throughout the season. “The Bridgertons have a bee which appears on certain parts of their costumes, and for the Featheringtons, it’s butterflies,” explains head of hair and makeup, Marc Pilcher. “We have a few little hair decorations that reflect this as well and we pop them in now and again.”
8. Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte has a special love for her pet pomeranians. Golda Rosheuvel, who plays Queen Charlotte, loved the experience, but recalls that the pups all had strong personalities, much like her character. “I do very well with dogs, and these were very feisty so you had to calm them down a little bit, but they were excellent dogs. They were as rowdy as the Queen sometimes, but I loved that. I think they were all female, bar one. It’s a very female driven show.”
9. Marc Pilcher, the head of hair and makeup for the series, says that when it came to designing the look for Queen Charlotte, the early discussions he had with creator/showrunner Chris Van Dusen revolved around her having a different wig on every time she is on screen, and that the wigs would always match her outfits. “She’s got nothing else to do. She’s waiting for her husband to die and she’s quite bored. It took us a lot of time, but it was great and a really creative thing to do.”
10. The production design team led by Will Hughes-Jones didn’t use furniture from prop houses. They built everything themselves, right down the curtains.
11. Despite the Queen’s penchant for her wigs, some of these accessories were starting to lose favour at this time. “Regency England was actually a really exciting period because it started to pull away from the strictness of the massive dresses and wigs,” explains Marc Pilcher.
“They introduced a powder tax on wigs. You had to pay a tax if you wanted to wear powder in your hair or in your wigs. It was about thirty pounds a year, which was a lot of money back then, so people decided to discard their wigs.”
12. The cast were all in when it came to putting themselves in the shoes of their characters. Depending on their role, an actor may have taken classes in any of the following: etiquette, horse riding, dancing, voice lessons, pistol training, and boxing.
13. Regé-Jean Page, who plays Simon Basset, says that he enjoyed the boxing lessons and scenes the most, even though it was always challenging and often incredibly sweaty. “It was really fun to do something so physical and exhausting and to get into visceral play with the other actors,” Page recalls. “I got on really well with Martins Imhangbe, who plays Will the boxer, and we had a great time in those scenes."
- READ MORE: Regé-Jean Page on playing The Duke
14. Claudia Jessie and Nicola Coughlan, who play best friends Eloise Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, knew each other a little before working on Bridgerton. “One of my favourite things about this story is Penelope and Eloise’s friendship,” Coughlan says.
15. Luke Newton, who plays Colin Bridgerton, put his musical abilities to good use when filming the series. “I come from a musical theatre and singing background and both of my aunts were in West End shows, so I was brought up going to see them in musicals. When the opportunity to be part of Bridgerton came up I never thought that I would be singing in the show, but I performed around the piano and it was so cool for me because I got to learn a completely different style of music that I’d never even listened to before."
16. Claudia Jessie (Eloise Bridgerton) lives on a canal boat and was in the midst of boat renovations when she heard about securing the role in Bridgerton. “I was painting the roof of my boat, and I remember at that time thinking, ‘You’ll get a job and everything will be fine’,” she recalls. “Then my agent called me and told me I got this role. I just went back to painting the roof but I thought, 'This is a great day'. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this show.”
17. Jonathan Bailey, who plays the eldest Bridgerton son Anthony, says that the scale of the Bridgerton production was most felt when the cast were filming the epic ball scenes. “What was amazing was when they would get the extras to stare at you as the Bridgertons as we were walking into the room. It was impossible to not feel a bit like a Bee Gee! You’d get a bit of a strut. That was really enjoyable.”
18. Irish actor Nicole Coughlan got lucky when it came to learning a tricky dance at one of the balls. “The dances were planned out before anyone was cast and I was thinking it was going to be a waltz or something like that, but it just so happened that the dance they had for Penelope was an Irish jig! It was a total coincidence. It’s called The Siege of Ennis and it’s a very famous dance that I’ve known since I was five years old.”
19. When it came to designing the hair and makeup for Daphne Bridgerton, Marc Pilcher says that they based the look on Audrey Hepburn in War and Peace. “It was that Sixties look. It’s always nice with your main actor to keep them soft, pretty and very natural. The images we found of Audrey Hepburn are of the period, but they also have a fashionable look.”
20. English actor and comedian Ben Miller , who plays Lord Featherington, was halfway through a PhD in semiconductor physics at Cambridge University when he decided to give up science for comedy.
21. Polly Walker, who plays Portia Featherington, had previously worked with her on-screen husband Ben Miller and says that the familiarity added so much when it came to building this relationship. “Years ago, I did a project called Jeffery Archer: The Truth with Ben. He’s so funny and such a talented actor and I couldn’t have hoped for a better Lord Featherington. It’s nice to have already worked with someone because you have an ease in the relationship. Ben’s got one of those faces where he doesn’t have to do very much and he’s hysterical, but he’s also a really good actor when he’s doing drama and moving material as well.”
22. Jonathan Bailey (Anthony Bridgerton) decided to grow his own lengthy sideburns for the role instead of resorting to assistance from the hair and makeup team, something he had regrets about by the end of the season. “They were homegrown!,” he says. “About three weeks in, Luke Newton said to me, ‘They’re sticky and quite itchy, aren’t they?’ and I said, ‘What do you mean? No, these are real!’ He said, ‘You’re going to hate that’. By the end, I was worried that when I took them off I wouldn’t be able to walk in a straight line. I’d be completely off balance.”
23. The costume department created thousands of costumes from scratch. Nicola Coughlan remembers how different the experience was from other projects she’s worked on. “For my first costume fitting, my agent said, ‘They need you for four hours’”, she recalls. “Normally you just try something on and see if it fits, but because everything on Bridgerton was couture they had to get every single measurement right. They’d make an outline of your hand to get gloves made, they’d get shoes made just for you, everything was specially colored and if they didn’t have the right color, they would dye it.”
24. Regé-Jean Page (Simon Basset) says that when it came to his character he couldn’t believe the amount of care that the costume team put into what the outfits meant, in addition to how they looked. “We talked a lot about what kinds of Byronic influences we could bring into Simon’s costume, what his clothes say about him and where he’s been,” remembers Page. “Byron is very big in terms of his writing and his sense of romanticism and adventure, and he would have inspired a lot of these characters.”
25. One of the strangest idiosyncratic aspects of period design discovered by production designer Will Hughes-Jones was a Regency spit roast powered by domesticated animals. “I just couldn’t believe it when we were on location and we saw a mock up of it in an English heritage property. It was a spit in a kitchen powered by a dog. Imagine a dog in a hamster wheel, on a wall that turns the spit roast in the fireplace. Yes, they had spit roasts run by terriers.”