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‘Bridgerton’ season three: Luke Newton on playing the Netflix hit’s latest romantic lead

As Bridgerton fans look forward to the third season of Regency romance and scandal, actor Luke Newton tells Rolling Stone UK what he’s learnt from playing Colin Bridgerton in the upcoming iteration of the Netflix hit, as well as dropping some tantalising hints about what viewers can expect.

By Sydney Bolen

Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton (Picture: Netflix)

Each season of Regency romp Bridgerton focuses on the love story between one couple, and taking up the mantle of romantic hero for the third series is the youngest Bridgerton brother, Colin, played by Luke Newton. The object of his affections will be the show’s eternal wallflower Penelope Featherington, played by Nicola Coughlan, who has been loving him from afar for some time now.

Newton – who has played Colin since the start and is just as charming in real life as you’d hope – has relished the acting challenges that have come with season three. The “range of scenes, emotions and parts of Colin that I got to explore was something that I really enjoyed and that I hadn’t got to experience with any other role that I’ve played so far,” he says.

The 31-year-old was 26 when it was first announced that he had been cast as Bridgerton’s witty and winsome adventure-seeker, and from the beginning, life seemed to imitate art. “At the show’s start, Colin was this very naive, innocent, younger brother role,” he says. “In a weird parallel, that is how I felt on the show. I had Luke Thompson and Jonathan Bailey to look up to, and we had a very natural brotherly dynamic. Over the years, my character has grown up and learned a lot about himself, and so have I. As Colin has made good choices and bad choices, I’ve been right there beside him.” After a pause, he says, “It’s not very often you get to live in a role for this amount of time and experience such growth within a character. Getting to really live in this character and to now reach his climax moment where he has an understanding of himself and feels confident in his place and in his abilities is something that I’ll cherish forever.”

A key component of successfully portraying romance is being able to show vulnerability, and this is an aspect Newton finds “really fun”. He also drew on his role as the romantic lead in The Shape of Things at Park Theatre last year. “Jess Brownell [Bridgerton’s showrunner], came to watch the play and saw a couple of rom-com elements she wanted to see more of in Colin – moments where he’s awkward and can’t really speak his mind,” says Newton. “It was fun to draw from that experience for Bridgerton because that’s my favourite thing about this job: there’s never a finish line. You’re forever learning and drawing from other experiences.”

For those wondering why the love between Colin and Penelope took so long to blossom, Newton has some potential theories. Until now, Pen, as she is affectionately known, has spent most of her time pining for Colin, her best friend’s older brother, but 1815 seems to be the year that her feelings are finally requited.

“There are so many obstacles that have kept Colin from seeing what’s right in front of him,” says Newton. “On a personal level, he’s going through that classic time in a young man’s life when he’s over-stimulated by everything involved in growing up. He feels a lot of pressure to live up to the Bridgerton name and find his purpose. Being the third in line, he has no purpose. He’s never going to need to look after the family. I think that’s why he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder because he has this protective side that he feels he doesn’t need to use. Then, on a romantic level, he doesn’t consider friendship a fundamental base for his relationship. Particularly after last season, seeing what Anthony goes through, he thinks he needs that passion and that fire and that longing.” He takes a confident breath before adding, “I think he’ll get there though.”

For his part, Newton hopes that it all works out for ‘Polin’, as they are known by the Bridgerton fan base. “I’m so biased for Colin and Pen,” he says. “I can’t imagine this story playing out in any other way. I feel very connected to this love story. I’m proud of it and I know that the fans will really resonate with it.”

Noting the penchant the period drama has for orchestral pop covers, I ask Newton to pick a song that best summarises Colin and Pen’s dynamic. He grins before replying: “I know that it’s a bit of a comedic answer, but ‘Mirrors’ by Justin Timberlake. The lyrics do actually represent their relationship and the journey that they go through.”

Knowing that fans of the Bridgerton books are sure to have a field day with that answer, we move on to discuss *those* scenes that readers will be looking out for. “I’ve seen that moment now and [fans are] going to be over the moon. Nicola and I would talk about those moments from the books at length before we’d get to set. On those days, there was a different energy. It felt like having the support of thousands of people for that one particular moment, knowing that it would mean a lot to people and that they’d waited and hoped that it would make it into the show.”

Newton then drops a tantalising hint about the future of the couple. “One of the best things about this show is the opportunity it affords to continue playing these characters way past the drama of them trying to find love,” Newton shares. “Nicola and I have already spoken to Jess [Brownell] about our place within the future Bridgerton. She’s got some really cool and interesting ideas for where she’s going to take us. It will be nice to expand upon the themes we’ve begun to explore in season three and find new versions of the characters and the dynamic between them as they grow.”

Finally, he leaves me with some advice for the show’s fans to bear in mind as they watch season three. “Things are always changing,” Newton tells me with a mischievous glint in his eye, “so whenever you feel comfortable, maybe don’t.”