Bridgerton isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a period piece. While the Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix series (adapted from books by Julia Quinn) has the look of a Regency-era social drama, it goes deeper than many of its period-piece brethren, exploring issues of race, gender equality, and sexuality—without skimping at all on the opulent costumes, jaw-dropping sets, longing glances, or upper-class anxiety.
Actress Phoebe Dynevor stars in the series as Daphne Bridgerton, a young woman dubbed her social season’s most promising debutante. Viewers might expect her to meet suitors, giggle nervously, and eventually follow her heart to a perfect match and hulking country estate—but what Dynevor delivers is something altogether different. Yes, the series is part Downton Abbey, but it’s also got a wild side; Daphne’s a more fleshed-out character than we’re used to seeing in Regency dramas and at some steamy moments, the series can feel like Normal People in corsets. Which is all to say, it’s a delight. There’s enough storytelling candy for any fan of period pieces, and Bridgerton is brainy enough to keep viewers glued to the TV even if high-society hijinks aren’t normally their cup of tea.
Here, Dynevor talks to T&C about taking on the role, facing her fears on-camera, and how a group text helped with her history lessons.
How much did you know about the world of Bridgerton going into the series?
Not a lot. I mean, I remember I had an audition in January, I was actually in New York at the time and I filmed a tape and never heard anything back from it. And then three months later I got called in and I met with [executive producer] Betsy Beers and [creator] Chris Van Dusen and it kicked off from there. And then I chemistry read with Regé-Jean Page [who plays Daphne’s will-they-or-won’t-they love interest] the week after. It all happened really quickly when it actually happened, and so between my second meeting and the chemistry test, I read the books and got to know who this character was and what her world was like. Because from the script it felt period, but not conventionally so.