'Bridgerton' star Claudia Jessie thinks there's 'room to play' with Eloise's love story

Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton on season three, episode three of "Bridgerton."
Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton on season three, episode three of "Bridgerton."Liam Daniel/Netflix
  • Claudia Jessie plays Eloise Bridgerton, the second-eldest Bridgerton sister.

  • In season three, Eloise is estranged from her best friend Penelope — and navigating new friendships.

  • Jessie spoke with Business Insider about "Bridgerton" season three, and being a working-class actor.

Three seasons in, Claudia Jessie still thinks that Eloise Bridgerton is cool.

The second-eldest Bridgerton daughter has never shied away from speaking her mind on the show, particularly when it comes to the romantic mœurs of Regency-era London society. Her sharp tongue — and Jessie's sharper delivery — made her an instantly enjoyable part of the first season of "Bridgerton."

"When I first read her, I was like, 'Oh, she's awesome,'" Jessie told Business Insider. "I didn't really need to do much, thanks to the writers. It's very nice."

And Jessie's right — Eloise is cool, even in the aftermath of an explosive second season that left her dealing with the aftershocks of societal scandal and a falling out with her best friend. In season three, she's a bit more subdued, succumbing to some of the trappings of society while still keeping her wits about her. And in the absence of Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), she's found a new confidante in former enemy Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen).

Jessie spoke with BI about Eloise and Penelope's changing relationship, her eventual love story, and what it means to be on a wildly successful show like "Bridgerton" as a working-class actor.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for "Bridgerton" season three, part one.

penelope featherington, in a bright yellow dress, facing eloise bridgerton, in a sheer blue gown, standing inside the modiste's stop
Penelope and Eloise have a falling out at the end of season two of "Bridgerton."Liam Daniel/Netflix

Eloise had this bomb dropped on her last season when she learned that Penelope was Lady Whistledown, and it's turned their relationship into this very raw wound. You and Nicola had worked together so closely on prior seasons of the show — what was it like changing the nature of their friendship like that?

Physically, it's weird, because we've spent two seasons together, mostly Eloise dragging Penelope out of a room. It was weird to be on season three and not be with her. That was definitely unusual.

I think it's important to show that female friendship isn't always perfect. There can be ups and downs.

Eloise's friendship with Cressida this season is such a surprising narrative turn, but a very nuanced one. What was it like navigating that with Jessica Madsen, and what do you think Eloise sees in that relationship with Cressida?

I'll start with Eloise. To quote her, she says, "Cressida showed me kindness when no one else would." And I think from season two, Eloise had this sort of thing with Theo that ended, and this very solid column in her life in the form of Penelope crumbled.

If you are alone, and if you don't feel enchanted by the things around you, you might get intrigued by or attached to things you wouldn't have before. But I also think what's nice about the friendship is that people are complex. We're capable of all sorts of stuff, and nothing comes from nothing. We get to see a lot about Cressida and the really suffocating situation that she's in.

eloise standing next to cressida cowper in bridgerton, among a crowd in a ballroom. eloise is wearing a blue gown and smiling, while cressida looks forward, wearing an ornate gold gown
Eloise forges a new friendship with Cressida in season three of "Bridgerton."Liam Daniel/Netflix

For me, it was one of the greatest professional experiences of my life working with Jess Madsen. We've known each other since April-ish 2019, but most of the time I'm in scenes with her, Eloise has been saying she'd rather die than be her friend. But to spend that much time with Jess was unbelievable. She's a really magic human being and I love her with all my heart.

If all goes to plan, we'll eventually see Eloise take center stage in a future season. Out of all the Bridgerton siblings, it feels like she has the greatest potential to diverge from the romantic norm we've seen on the show so far. What would you hope for Eloise if she does do something, I would say characteristically, off the beaten path?

It's a great question, and I think everyone's aware of what you're saying as well — I am most certainly. Eloise is such a maverick. I don't think that "Bridgerton" would ever ignore romance, it's such a huge part of the show. But the great thing about Eloise is that there's so much room to play, because she could be political, or just really continue on this journey for independence, or see her interact with someone she had feelings for in her way.

She isn't Daphne, and she's not Francesca, and she's not the boys. They're all very different. It's sort of similar with Benedict. There's room for play as well. They're the most similar siblings.

I can't wait to find out, but I think you're right. I think there's a lot of scope there with Eloise.

It's interesting you bring up Benedict as well, because I feel like both she and Benedict have a potential queer resonance to their storylines. How does that interact with how you see Eloise?

I've always loved that there's this coding that people have with Eloise. There's a strength in her that I think a queer storyline can connect. And I've always been touched by that as a notion with Eloise. But yeah, there's definitely room for all of that with both her and Benedict.

eloise bridgerton in a blue gown with a bown at her neck, looking bemused while standing at a garden party
Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in season three of "Bridgerton."Liam Daniel/Netflix

You told The Guardian recently that as a working-class actor, doing a franchise like this allowed you to support your friends and family in a way that you didn't think was previously possible. What does signing onto a franchise like this feel like, knowing there's some degree of stability for a bit, if that rings true?

It almost makes me want to cry, you just saying that. It's funny, I've got a mate who's also working class, and we always say that it sort of never goes. So while I feel very fortunate and grateful, and I'm doing the right things with the success of it, it doesn't go away, this sense of terror. And that's not going anywhere, I don't think. Nothing's guaranteed.

Growing up with a single parent from a council estate, all I ever knew was life to be difficult. So I'm never going to take that for granted, but I'll use it responsibly. And that means being able to support those around me in a way that I never thought I'd be able to do. So thank you so much to Shonda Rhimes.

"Bridgerton" season three, part two premieres June 13.

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