“I feel like everyone has their own process. I try to get as much daylight as possible.” Jonathan Bailey quips, after being asked about the secret behind his much-discussed mutton chops as seen in Bridgerton. “Maybe spritz them every day with a bit of hyaluronic acid. My advice is to just be brave and be bold and try not to look down too much. It gets hairy,” the 33-year-old actor adds.
While the intense sideburns contributed to the look of his character, it was Bailey’s performance as Anthony Bridgerton that garnered acclaim from both critics and audiences. Based on the Julia Quinn novels of the same name, the Netflix adaptation dives into the competitive nature of Regency-era society, in which Bailey’s character navigates his duty to his family as well as his own desires. Delivering an excellent combination of compelling drama, captivating romance, as well as visually stunning costumes, Bridgerton became the most-watched series on the streaming giant’s platform at the time of its premiere.
The second season will showcase the pursuit of a suitable marriage for the eldest Bridgerton sibling as chronicled in the second book of Quinn’s Bridgerton series, The Viscount Who Loved Me. Recently, August Man Malaysia had the opportunity to speak to the English actor. In this interview, Jonathan Bailey talks about Anthony’s character development, his love for history, as well as what is it like to work with an intimacy coordinator.
If Bridgerton stays close to the adaptation process, season two would be Anthony’s story. Is that something that you’ve discussed with showrunner Chris Van Dusen back in the production of season one?
Yeah, it was something that Chris and I discussed when I went to meet him for the first time. We always discussed how his story would be interlaced with Daphne’s in series one. Which is quite an extraordinary position, where he has decided that he’s going to marry a woman, but he doesn’t want to be in love. And that’s where we leave Anthony. It’s a really unique proposition for an actor to come in and to support the leads in series one and then to step into their shoes in the next. In a way, it’s like the Bridgerton family is in a wrestling ring and we’re all on the side supporting, and then we tag team, and then the next one goes in. It’s been exciting and overwhelming to take the baton, and I’m going to be really excited to pass that on to the next person next year.
What was the thing that you look forward to the most going back to season two?
There’s so much about Anthony that we need to answer. He was quite controlling for some of his actions in series one. He represents quite an extreme side of toxic masculinity, privilege, and the position of heritage in British society, which is unique. We needed to find out why Anthony is the way he is. Going into series two, I was thrilled to go back into his history and invite the audience to understand his actions a bit more.
And of course, what’s really exciting about series two is meeting some incredible new characters like the Sharmas, a family coming over from India. With Charithra Chandran, Simone Ashley, and Shelley Conn playing those characters, I think Anthony is very lucky because he gets to meet these incredible women. We know that it takes a formidable love to grasp on the Bridgertons. So yeah, it was always about expanding what was there in series one.
Bridgerton employed Lizzy Talbot as the intimacy coordinator for the intimate scenes of the show. How was the experience like?
The first thing that I want to say is that I can’t imagine an industry or a film set that didn’t employ an intimacy coordinator, and the fact that they were only introduced about five years ago is completely mind blowing.
The thing is, with storytelling and filmmaking, you want to have a safe space where everyone feels like they can raise their hand and offer a suggestion without discrimination or feeling self-conscious, without being coerced into a different way of doing things. And it makes perfect sense to have someone there who is basically a communicator that can quickly identify any areas in which people might feel vulnerable or sensitive. I think it’s brilliant for the directors to know that they’re able to discuss exactly how these intimate beats play out in a way that feels safe for the actors.
With this genre of storytelling that we’re putting together with Netflix, there’s so much humanity that you can put into a sex scene if it’s told in a safe manner. As an actor, you’d feel more in control of your performance and less nervous about whether you’re doing the right thing, or whether you’re touching the other person in the right place. That’s why I think the sex scenes became such a big part of the success of Bridgerton series one.
Bridgerton is a grand production with gorgeous sets and beautiful wardrobe. Do you have a favorite costume/set?
I’ve loved going to Bath. If you’re a bit of a history nerd as I am, you’d know that we’re spoiled. Essentially, it’s a big school trip around all these amazing manors in South London. There’s the exterior of Lady Danbury’s house in the middle of Bath, it’s just the most amazing thing to go there and film. Even though we’re in the 21st century of cosmopolitan Bath, it’s amazing to experience the sense of history that’s steeped into the architecture. As an actor or as a creative, that helps inform the performance in the world in which we’re creating in Regency London.
There were moments when you’d look out of the window and you can see large amounts of land, a gorgeous lake, and you’d get a sense of just how much these people had. Their homes were huge, and you can understand the scale of the workforce that they had living in the house and working downstairs. And that really helps inform the actor when playing high-status characters who came from immense privilege.
As for costumes, it’s incredibly hard to say. Last year, Phoebe had about 108 dresses made for her, and I think this year it’s 140 stocks and waist coats. So, for me to pick one out of those 140 would be very unfair. I can’t possibly do that!