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Nicola Coughlan on Bridgerton Season 2, Lady Whistledown Reveal, and Gossip Culture

Nicola Coughlan shares her journey as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton, Lady Whistledown's reveal, her friendship with Eloise, and more.

In case you missed it, there’s a new season of Bridgerton and if you haven’t seen the first season yet, what are you doing??? The show is based on the romance novel series by Julia Quinn and produced by Shonda Rhimes a.k.a. Shondaland. *SPOILER ALERT* In the season finale, it is revealed that Penelope Featherington played by Nicola Coughlan is Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews). Who is Lady Whistledown, you ask? She’s the town’s anonymous gossip-monger who shakes up the ton with her scandal sheet. Juicy, indeed!

READ MORE:
Bridgerton Season 2 Cast Members on Characters, Costumes, and Chemistry

In a roundtable interview with select media from the Philippines, we sat down with Nicola Coughlan who shares her journey as Penelope Featherington, Lady Whistledown’s reveal, her friendship with Eloise, and more. Read the full interview below:

What do you think that of all the characters to be Lady Whistledown, it had to be Penelope? What pushed her to write on the subject of the ‘ton and in a manner that she does?

Nicola Coughlan: I think there are a lot of reasons why she writes Lady Whistledown. She is someone who feels like she doesn’t belong with her family. She is quite shy so she doesn’t express herself in person because that gets in her way. She was used to going around her family that would constantly snipe at one another, and she couldn’t do that. So she internalized it and brought it into her words because she loves to read. And then I think, because the ‘ton loves it so much, that pushes her forward even more. 

What are your thoughts on Penelope’s journey this season?

Nicola Coughlan: I was really excited to go back and play her because her being revealed as Lady Whistledown at the end of Season 1 really opened up her whole world and opened it up to the audience. I was excited to see how she got away with everything and how she collected all the information, got it to the printers, and all that stuff. Coming back in and knowing I was going to get to play that, was really exciting.

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Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 201 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

How different it was to play Penelope now that her identity as Lady Whistledown was revealed?

Nicola Coughlan: It’s different in a certain way but because I always knew she was Lady Whistledown, that was always in my mind. A lot of season one was about keeping it under the surface and keeping it a lot in her head. It created new challenges which was so much fun for her — being clever and tricking people, moving around London in the nighttime, and all that stuff.

How has Eloise and Penelope’s friendship evolved in this season?

Nicola Coughlan: I think their friendship evolves a lot because Eloise enters into society and Penelope hasn’t had a friend by her side before. I think she likes that she’s there as a friend but then it also creates issues. She needs to collect information at these balls in order to write Lady Whistledown so having Eloise constantly attached to her, creates a bit of tension. And also, there’s an element of her that she really needs Eloise’s praise.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 206 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

The first season focused on Daphne and the Duke, the second season Antony and Kate, whose story would you want to see more for the next season? Would we see Collin and Penelope?

Nicola Coughlan: Who knows? I guess that’s a question for Shondaland. We’re lucky enough that we know were commissioned for four seasons which is such a rare and lucky thing to have. So I do know Collin and Penelope’s love story is coming within that. 

What are your thoughts on gossip culture? Do you think it’s helpful or are you against it?

Nicola Coughlan: I think it’s a thing that we pretend we don’t like, but everyone loves to indulge in a little bit of gossip. It’s something about this time in history that women had so little agency over what they could do in their lives, that this was one thing they could really have control of and be the queens of this domain of gossip. So I totally get why it was such a thing but also, I think nobody’s immune to a good, juicy piece of gossip.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in episode 208 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

This season explores feminism deeply, especially Eloise. If you could share a piece of advice to women, what would it be?

Nicola Coughlan: I think you’ve got to put yourself first because women have a habit of thinking of everybody else before themselves. But ultimately, when they say on a plane, you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on before anybody else’s? Apply that to your life because when you’re taking care of yourself, you’re better to be able to serve everyone and everything you’re doing. But you got to put yourself first.

What onset secrets can you share with us? 

Nicola Coughlan: I’m always trying to be as comfortable as possible because the costumes are not terribly comfortable. So at any scene where I’m sitting down for a prolonged period of time, I will always try and wear Ugg boots underneath the dress. So you’ve got this beautiful Regency ballgown

Bridgerton. (L to R) Kathryn Drysdale as Genevieve, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 203 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

Did you get to keep anything from the show?

Nicola Coughlan: We got given a gigantic bag with a “B” on it. I think if we tried to steal one of those costumes, I’d get in a lot of trouble. They’re not the most inconspicuous so by leaving with a giant yellow gown, I think they’d be like “no, no, no!”

Bridgerton Season 2 premieres today, March 25, on Netflix. Stream here.

ABOUT BRIDGERTON
RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2022
EPISODES:  8 episodes x 1 hour
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Shondaland
CREATOR/SHOWRUNNER: Chris Van Dusen
DIRECTORS: Tricia Brock (201, 202), Alex Pillai (203, 204), Tom Verica (205, 206), Cheryl Dunye (207, 208)
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:  Chris Van Dusen, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Tom Verica
STARRING: Adjoa Andoh, Lorraine Ashbourne, Simone Ashley, Jonathan Bailey, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Charithra Chandran, Shelley Conn, Nicola Coughlan, Phoebe Dynevor, Ruth Gemmell, Florence Hunt, Martins Imhangbe, Claudia Jessie, Calam Lynch, Luke Newton, Golda Rosheuvel, Luke Thompson, Will Tilston, Polly Walker, Rupert Young, and Julie Andrews

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