‘Bridgerton’ Star Luke Newton Talks Colin and Penelope Getting Out of the Friend Zone: ‘A Lot of People Have Experienced It’

“When Harry Met Sally,” “13 Going on 30,” “Past Lives” and even “Spider-Man” have all included the complicated friends-to-lovers trope. Now, “Bridgerton” could be added to list as the latest season sees romance blossom between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) as they finally make it out of the friend zone.

“The more I speak to people, the more I’m starting to realize how a lot of people have experienced it in one way or another, even my loved ones. I spoke to my family members and they were like, ‘Yeah, I’ve had that in my life, I’ve experienced that'” Newton told Variety at the show’s Season 3 premiere on Monday at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. “It’s not something that I’ve had, but I now have an extra level of empathy for it now having lived this process of the show, so I’m a big fan of the trope.”

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Newton mentioned that his and Coughlan’s chemistry stems from their history of “growing up together” on and off the show.

“We came into this show, not knowing what it was going to be, not knowing the scale of it and then we’ve lived that journey,” Newton says. “We’re so obsessed with storytelling. And we’re really passionate about it, and we both gave as much as each other throughout this whole experience. And it just felt like something that we shared, and you won’t ever really get that experience again, so it feels very special.”

While the two never had a chemistry read when they were cast for the show, they were quick to develop a kinship.

“He’s such a kind, genuine person. What you see is what you get, and I always really admire that in people,” Coughlan told Variety. “Actors, sometimes when doing a thing, they don’t care about they’re like, ‘I don’t need to be here.’ But he really wants to do this show and he loves it as much as I do.”

Season 3 is based on the fourth novel, “Romancing Mr. Bridgerton” in Julia Quinn’s eight-book series. Each book in the collection focuses on a different Bridgerton sibling’s love story, with Colin taking the lead this time.

“I’ve been personally waiting for this season since the day I cast Penelope and Luke in these roles,” says Chris Van Dusen, the series creator. “I was the first person to see Nicola come in, I fell in love with her the moment I saw it. Luke, we cast at the casting session in London, and he just inhabited Colin Bridgerton and in such an amazing way. And the two of them together have this quiet strength about them that I think you really root for in a really relatable way.”

Van Dusen went on to say “There’s a scene at the end of Season 1 at the Hastings Ball when Penelope’s in her yellow dress and Colin is there staring at her across the room. That’s what’s so wonderful about the season, the world finally gets to see the payoff. We’ve been setting these two characters up these first two seasons and now the payoff is here so it’s super exciting.”

However, Penelope and Colin’s relationship may be threatened as Sam Phillips’ Lord Debling also fancies Penelope and teases he is going to “shake things up.”

“I’m a bit of a troublemaker in this one,” Phillips says. “[Lord Debling’s] a good man who just sees what he wants, and wants to get what he wants and I think perhaps he disregards whatever’s come before to get that. He doesn’t really know about the building romance between the two of them.”

“Bridgerton” Season 3 will be released in two parts. Part one premieres on May 16 on Netflix, follow by part two on June 13.

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