Despite its Regency-era setting, “Bridgerton” is far from historically accurate.
Although many period dramas have cultural experts on hand during production to ensure historical authenticity, “Bridgerton” took an entirely different approach, opting for a diverse reimagining of London’s high society.
“It’s important to remember that ‘Bridgerton’ isn’t a history lesson,” Quinn told Entertainment Weekly in December 2020. “The show is for a modern audience.”
In a different December interview with Town and Country magazine, the show’s creator and Shonda Rhimes’ long-time collaborator Chris Van Dusen expressed a similar opinion.
“We knew we wanted the show to reflect the world we live in today, and even though it’s set in the 19th century, we still wanted modern audiences to relate to it and to see themselves on screen,” he said.
Fans of the “Bridgerton” book series impacted Nicola Coughlan’s performance.
Coughlan, who rose to fame on the Channel 4 drama “Derry Girls,” plays Penelope Featherington on “Bridgerton.”
And according to a December 2020 interview with The Guardian, the rising talent turned to fan pages to get an idea of what people expected from her character.
“I spent a lot of time lurking on online book forums to see what fans thought,” Coughlan said. “I realized that [Penelope] is this really beloved character, because she’s not this perfect girl that all the boys love.”
“She’s a complete wallflower,” she added. “So I thought, ‘OK, I really, really wanna do that justice.'”
Before “Bridgerton,” Phoebe Dynevor starred on the TV series “Snatch” alongside “Harry Potter” actor Rupert Grint.
Dynevor plays the central protagonist of the first season, Daphne Bridgerton, but that wasn’t her first foray as a TV lead.
The Manchester-born actress played Lotti Mott on Crackle’s “Snatch,” a TV adaptation of Guy Ritchie’s hit 2000 comedy of the same name.
The series also starred Ed Westwick, popular for his role as Chuck Bass on The CW’s “Gossip Girl”, Luke Pasqualino, best known for playing Freddie McClair on E4’s “Skins,” and Grint, who famously portrayed Ron Weasley in the “Harry Potter” films.
And Jonathan Bailey played a leading role on a Phoebe Waller-Bridge TV series.
Before Waller-Bridge gained international recognition for her award-winning BBC shows “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve,” she wrote and created the British TV series “Crashing.”
The Channel 4 show focuses on a group of people in their 20s, who live in a rent-controlled disused hospital.
Bailey — Viscount Bridgerton himself — played one of the main roles on the short-lived series.
Julie Andrews voices the role of Lady Whistledown.
You may have recognized the posh tone of Lady Whistledown’s narration from “Mary Poppins” (1964) or “The Princess Diaries” series, as Andrews voices the rumor-spreading writer.
In a December 2020 interview with Oprah magazine, Quinn said she was thrilled when she heard about the casting.
“When they told me I legitimately stopped breathing,” she said. “I mean, I should be dead.”
And while the other actors filmed season one in locations across the UK, Andrews recorded her voice-over narration in a New York studio.
“She was so fun to work with,” Van Dusen said in the same interview. “Everything that you think Julie Andrews is, she is.”
“I had such a blast writing the voiceover for Lady Whistledown because she gets to say the most scathing, sometimes insulting things,” he added. “And they’re not typical things that you would think that would be coming out of Julie Andrews’ mouth.”
Rhimes was determined to get the rights to the book series.
The creator of hit ABC shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” Rhimes knows a potential TV success when she sees one — and that was the case with the “Bridgerton” novels.
Rhimes was passionate about bringing the old-time Regency stories onto the small screen.
“I remember, I was almost scaring people,” Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter in October 2020. “Like, ‘We have to get these crazy romance novels — they’re hot and they’re sexy, and they’re really interesting!'”
The soaked-shirt scene from “Pride and Prejudice” inspired some of the show’s racier moments.
Jane Austen’s world may feel quaint compared to the scandal-ridden society on “Bridgerton,” but some parts of the Netflix series were actually inspired by the 1995 BBC TV adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.”
Specifically, the moment between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, when he was wearing a wet shirt, inspired some of the show’s more racy scenes.
“Obviously, Colin Firth coming out of that lake with the white shirt is seared in my mind,” Van Dusen told the Los Angeles Times in December 2020. “But I wanted to see a period piece that went further than that.”
The show’s sex scenes were carefully coordinated under the watchful eye of an intimacy director.
In an attempt to create a safer professional space for actors during their most vulnerable on-screen moments, the series hired intimacy coordinator Lizzy Talbot to direct the sexual and romantic cuts.
“We rehearsed all the intimacy scenes weeks and weeks before we started to do things,” Dynevor told Harper’s Bazaar in January 2021. “I think that was really beneficial to us as well, because by the time we got to set, we knew what we were doing. We felt really comfortable.”
Several of the show’s iconic hairstyles were based on real-life celebrities.
Despite its regency-era setting, “Bridgerton” draws from several different decades for its hairstyle inspirations.
Marc Pilcher, season one’s hair and makeup artist, told Insider in January 2021 that he based Daphne’s curled bangs on Audrey Hepburn’s memorable look from “War and Peace” (1956).
“When I did Daphne’s first fittings she had these amazing eyebrows and the looks that we started doing reminded me of Audrey Hepburn,” he said.
Other notable, inspired looks include Queen Charlotte’s Afro, which was based on Beyoncé’s hair in “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002), and Lady Featherington’s updo, which Pilcher likened to a “red-headed Elizabeth Taylor.”
One of Queen Charlotte’s wigs was so heavy that it had to be removed during breaks.
Although most of the wigs on “Bridgerton” weren’t heavy, the one Queen Charlotte wore to Daphne and Simon’s wedding party was weighed down by the sheer amount of braids in it.
“That was the heaviest one, I think because of the braids,” Pilcher told Insider. “We just made sure that whenever Golda had a break, we would always take it off because even though they’re bigger they’re actually quite easy to keep coming on and off.”
In addition to this weighty piece, Queen Charlotte also wore an Afro that actually consisted of five wigs sewn together into one.
Simon’s iconic stubble was Regé-Jean Page’s idea.
Page played the charming and brooding Duke of Hastings on season one and sported the shadow of a beard.
Although the unshaven look wouldn’t have been true to the setting, the show’s artistic vision outweighed the need for historical accuracy, so Pilcher took Page’s suggestion.
“And even though it’s technically wrong for that period for a wealthy man to be stubbly, you know, we’re making ‘Bridgerton,’ and it’s not like anything else,” Pilcher told Insider. “So I was happy to go with that and the producers were too.”
“The whole thing with Simon, we wanted him to look hot and handsome — all the girls are swooning for him — so we kept it just for that aspect and he looked great,” he added.
Fans aren’t the only ones who’ve compared the series to “Gossip Girl.”
Lady Whistledown exposes the secrets of London’s upper class like how Gossip Girl reports Upper East Side drama on the namesake CW show.
Viewers took to the internet to note that similarity, and leading actor Page made the comparison himself.
In a December 2020 interview with Variety, Page said that “Bridgerton” is “something a bit like if Jane Austen met ‘Gossip Girl’ and maybe like, you know, ’45 Shades of Gray.'”
“We have a lot of fun in period costumes and it is set in the Regency period in 1813,” Page added. “It is a romance and a fantasy, and it’s a big, warm Regency hug.”
Van Dusen came up with the idea to use modern-day pop songs against the Regency-era backdrop.
Viewers were treated to a combination of orchestral reworkings of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” and Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” among other well-known pop records, and classical masterpieces, such as Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
In December 2020, Alexandra Patsavas, the series’ music supervisor who closely worked with the soundtrack composer Kris Bowers, told Entertainment Tonight that it was Van Dusen’s idea to meld genres.
“The familiarity of these pop songs performed by a quartet or orchestral seemed the most seamless way to create a ‘Bridgerton’ musical signature and also support Bowers’ beautiful score,” Patsavas said.
The show’s costume designer focused on creating a “Shonda” look.
In a November 2020 interview with Slate, “Bridgerton” costume designer Ellen Mirojnick said she didn’t prioritize historical accuracy when conceptualizing the show’s outfits.
“There [needs to be] an element that people that are watching it today can really dive into and not be taken back to a time in history that they can’t relate to — that there’s something about this that gets them swept up immediately in the story,” Mirojnick said.
“And then there’s Shonda. And what that means is that Shonda has a particular aesthetic,” she added. “And if you think of all of Shonda’s shows, it’s evident, whether they are period or they are present-day, they’re very fashionable in their own right.”
Coughlan fell over in heels three times while filming.
In a March 2022 interview with BBC’s “The One Show,” Coughlan said Mirojnick originally gave her heels to wear since she was “too small,” but the actress had trouble walking in them.
“I agreed to wear these crazy heels, and then on my first day on set we were walking around and I toppled over not once, not twice, but three times,” she said.
The “Derry Girls” actress added, “Three times, and I thought they’re going to think I’m drunk, they’re gonna think I’m crazy, and I was holding a dog at the time.”
The dog was fine, but the crew quickly realized heels weren’t going to be an option.
The identity of Lady Whistledown was not always set in stone.
The final episode of season one revealed that Penelope Featherington had been Lady Whistledown all along, which stayed true to the book series.
But according to Stacy Lambe’s reporting for Entertainment Tonight, the show’s creators considered different avenues, noting characters like Daphne, Lady Danbury, Eloise, and Brimsley all were contenders to be the divisive writer.
The actors have to dance while wearing earpieces, which can get tricky.
Filming dance scenes can be tricky, especially while wearing earpieces that keep the actors up-to-date on the action.
In a March 2022 press conference, Luke Newton, who plays Colin Bridgerton, said that although he likes the dancing and rehearsals, the earpieces make filming difficult.
“Hats off to the dancers because they do it every take, and they do it perfectly, and then I step in, and I feel like I’ve got two left feet because I can not hear the music,” Newton said. “I hear everyone else talking.”
Also, the actors have to move the earpieces to different ears to keep them out of the shot, which becomes an added element of “headphone choreography.”
Coughlan originally auditioned for the role of Eloise.
In a 2022 profile with The New York Times, Coughlan said that after her turn on “Derry Girls,” the producers of “Bridgerton” reached out to her agent for an audition. But originally, she read for the role of Eloise.
Even though she didn’t get the part, Van Dusen said he thought she was the perfect fit for the youngest Featherington sister.
“I called all of our other producers into the room and showed them the tape,” Van Dusen told The New York Times. “I’m happy to say that everyone loved her as much as I did.”