Why was Francesca Bridgerton recast? Netflix boss explains replacement

Simone Ashley, Jonathan Bailey and Charithra Chandran star in the romantic drama Bridgeton
Simone Ashley, Jonathan Bailey and Charithra Chandran star in the romantic drama Bridgeton -Credit:SplashNews.com

Francesca Bridgerton is set to take centre stage this series, after largely remaining in the shadows during the previous two seasons.

The reserved Bridgerton sibling will find herself reluctantly thrust into society as she embarks on her quest for a husband - a task she hopes to complete as quickly as possible. Indeed, she's eager to wrap it up so she can return to her cherished pastime of playing the piano.

As audiences get the chance to grow fond of Francesca, they may also notice that she appears somewhat different from earlier seasons. This is due to actress Ruby Stokes, who portrayed Francesca in the first and second seasons, being replaced by Hannah Dodd.

Ruby exited the series to join the cast of supernatural drama Lockwood and Co, paving the way for Hannah to step into her shoes. Hannah confessed that shooting her initial scenes as Francesca was "absolutely terrifying".

"Francesca has been preparing for [her debut] ... Filming it was absolutely terrifying, because it was quite early on in production," she shared. "There was a little bit of life imitating art there. She was nervous and I was nervous. She was watching people, and I was watching people to learn. We were kind of going through it together.", reports the Mirror.

Shonda Rhimes, the showrunner, has shared her excitement about the new casting, saying: "It's really wonderful to truly welcome Hannah - and Francesca. We've only ever seen tiny bits of Francesca in seasons past, and in this season she's back from having travelled and she's ready to get married, and you really get to know who Fran is. Fran's always been the invisible sister, and now she becomes front and centre in a lot of ways for us to get to know."

Director Tom Verica also praised the newcomer, describing Hannah as "outstanding" and "an amazing human being". He added: "She's ridiculously smart and talented. She was seamless. She hit the ground running," and acknowledged the challenges of joining an established cast by saying, "She revealed later in the season that she was just absolutely terrified, which we didn't see at the time, but we kind of assumed that stepping into this environment could be very tough. We were very clear about welcoming her and making her feel at home, but she was just absolutely seamless, stepping right into this role and really giving us a fresh take on Francesca."

"We really haven't seen her world that much; just little pieces here and there. For Hannah to embody this character, with all of her idiosyncrasies and her quirks, was amazing. I just couldn't be more pleased with this actress playing this role, and with seeing Francesca emerge and find her own love in a very different way than everyone else's. She forges her own path. I just loved her relationship with Violet, and how close they become - acceptance is a big part of that. Ultimately, what will you do as a parent when your child starts looking for love? What do you want to do to help make your child happy? Hannah and Ruth just navigated that world and that dynamic together so beautifully."