Netflix’s Bridgerton is a glossy, fun and refreshingly modern period drama that will have you totally hooked this Christmas. A big budget affair, Bridgerton features spectacular sets and idyllic filming locations, an extravagant Regency-era wardrobe and an inclusive ensemble cast made up of the likes of Adjoa Andoh, Julie Andrews, Regé-Jean Page, Polly Walker, Jonathan Bailey, Golda Rosheuvel and Nicola Coughlan.
The super luxe series is inspired by Julia Quinn’s best-selling novels, which detail the drama of the eight high society Bridgerton siblings. The Netflix series takes inspiration from the first book, The Duke and I, and focuses largely on the relationship between eldest sibling, debutante Daphne Bridgerton (played by Phoebe Dynevor) and bachelor Simon Basset (played by Regé-Jean Page).
It’s the first original Netflix series from TV powerhouse Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland production company. While not directly involved in the day to day running of the project (she serves as executive producer), it was Shonda who told creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen, who previously worked with her on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, to read the books and bring it to life on-screen.
"I took them home, read them that first night and I just fell in love with them," Chris told Cosmopolitan UK. "They had every element I love as far as being funny, emotional, sexy and charming, and there was this delightful family at the centre of them.
"It was about escapism for me," Chris added. "It was something I was really looking for and what a lot of audiences are looking for today - to be transported to this other time and place in this amazing, decadent beautiful world."
If you’re intrigued but are yet to watch or if you're searching for more Bridgerton content now you’ve consumed all eight episodes, here are 10 Bridgerton behind the scenes secrets, courtesy of Chris and the cast.
1. The cast spent six weeks at a 'regency bootcamp' ahead of filming
In order to get fully immersed in the Regency romance, the cast spent more than a month getting to grips with things like horse riding, Regency history, etiquette and dancing. "We literally did it all," Phoebe shared. "We had amazing intimacy coordinators, we had horse riding lessons, dance rehearsals, etiquette training, piano lessons... so we ticked every box in that respect."
2. Working on the series was like a "summer camp"
Filming on the series started in July 2019 and wrapped in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. That’s almost nine months of shooting, which is a pretty long stretch for a TV series. But it sounds like most of the actors didn’t seem to mind because when they weren’t in front of the camera there was plenty to do. "It was like a summer camp," Jonathan Bailey (Anthony Bridgerton) told Cosmopolitan UK.
He said FIFA fan Luke Newton (Colin Bridgerton) ensured there was always a game on the go, and revealed there was also a "coffee crew". "And on a nice day," he joked, "everyone would just sort of sunbathe and roll around in their corsets, so there was always something going on."
3. Phoebe and Regé-Jean on how they prepared for their intimate scenes
The costume drama is refreshing for many reasons, not least because the female characters are given agency. Case in point: Phoebe's intimate scenes with Simon are almost entirely shot from her perspective. As for Phoebe and Regé-Jean’s on-set chemistry, Phoebe said the extensive preparation ahead of filming played a large part. "It was so well written and we had an incredible intimacy coordinator who really helped us develop that kinship with each other and make sure the scenes were authentic and truthful, and that we felt comfortable," she shared.
4. Approximately 200 people worked behind the scenes
As well as the ensemble cast comprised of the likes of Phoebe, Regé-Jean and Jonathan, the big budget production obviously also required a lot of hands working behind the scenes. According to showrunner Chris, the crew was made up of "at least a few 100" people. One of the set designers, a carpenter, reportedly dedicated four months just to making fireplaces and windows. Meanwhile, for those epic scenes featuring huge rain storms, they used sound stages so they could control the levels of rain and the water temperature.
5. How Bridgerton was brought to life
While Shonda didn’t create the series, she was the one who told Chris to read Julia Quinn’s best-selling novels and adapt it for screen. "I knew I wanted to do something completely different than modern day political intrigue on Capitol Hill and Washington DC, and Shonda was the person who told me about these books and I took them home, read them that first night and I just fell in love with them."
6. Yes, some of the cast warned family members about the steamier scenes
In parts, Bridgerton is perhaps not the show you want to be watching with your parents. Opening up about the sex scenes, Phoebe admitted she "definitely did" have to warn some of her nearest and dearest, while Regé joked, "Oh, I like to surprise them. Let them off the leash, see what they discover." Jonathan revealed he told his 90-year-old nana to read the books first so she was "prepared" and warned her that you see "my bottom before you see my face".
7. A lot of the actors are now BFFs IRL
With a six-week bootcamp followed by more than six months of filming, it’s no surprise some of the cast are now incredibly close. "Phoebe, who plays Daphne, has now become a best friend and I feel incredibly proud and protective of her as well as an older brother," Jonathan said. "I think when you’re playing a family, a lot of the friendships just blossom from there." He also credited the producers for putting together such a stellar cast. "I think it’s testament to Shondaland that they managed to cast people who seem like a similar sort of tribe, and everyone really did get on."
8. The costume department didn't let anyone pinch any props from set
Working on such a huge production, we totally get why you might want to keep a souvenir but there was no such luck for most of the Bridgerton cast. While Jonathan kept the dance belt (essentially a thong) he had to wear under his white trousers for "proof of survival", he didn’t get to keep the signet ring that Anthony wears. "I think I got as close as the car but costume don’t miss a trick and I was pulled back in."
9. The cast have a WhatsApp group to stay in touch
Filming finished in February and a virtual press day in early December meant the actors couldn’t reunite in person, but they do all keep in touch via other means. "There’s a WhatsApp group and I think there’s still full attendance in that," Jonathan revealed, "so that’s a good sign."
10. As for a Bridgerton season 2…
When Cosmopolitan UK asked Van Dusen about a potential Bridgerton season 2, he told us "of course" he'd love to make one. "Obviously we’re just focused on the first season right now. And while that focuses on the eldest Bridgerton daughter Daphne and her love affair with Simon, we know there are eight Bridgerton siblings [and] there are eight Bridgerton books. So in success I would love to be able to explore love stories and romances for all the Bridgerton brothers and sisters, of course." Sounds extremely promising.
Watch Bridgerton on Netflix from 25 December.
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