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Love, sex, and a whole lot of drama – the scandalous Netflix-hit Bridgerton is back for its second season on March 25 and we can’t wait to see what’s installed for the eight siblings. 

The most-watched Netflix series of all time is based on Julia Quinn’s novels of the same name, which depicts tight-knit siblings on the quest to find true love in London during the Regency era. The show, produced by acclaimed writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, is lauded for its feminist approach to romance, gorgeous costumes and diverse casting.

Related article: Bridgerton Is Getting A Prequel Series About Young Queen Charlotte

Season one revolved around the whirlwind – and steamy – relationship between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page). Now, living blissfully with their son, the series turns to Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) who pledged to marry without love for the sake of his family and how he navigates this. 

Anticipating another tantalising season ahead, we spoke to Jonathan over video call to find out what viewers can expect from season two and how he prepared for his bigger role.

Interview with Jonathan Bailey on Bridgerton

Did you expect Season One to be an instant hit? 

I don’t know, I sort of describe it like all the ingredients were there for a really delicious meal but you just never know how well these things get cooked. There are so many variables for the magic to take place and for a series to hit the zeitgeist in a way Bridgerton did. I think it was the perfect time for this romance to come out in a world, which was devoid of connection and human empathy because of the pandemic. 

So that’s one aspect of it but with Shonda Rhimes at the helm, and with Netflix rallying behind, it’s a pretty stellar sort of supersonic girl band of a creative team. So yeah, all the ingredients were there and I did believe in it, and I loved Phoebe who plays Daphne and I could tell that they were coming up with something that was really special. 

More importantly, we all got on so well – usually, from my experience, when the cast get along, as well as we do, it comes across. So I knew that there was going to be something there.

In a way, the pandemic also helped in the show’s success because it was released during a time when nobody could touch one another in real life.

Totally, in itself, it is already a fantasy but when you’re living in a world devoid of all of those things, you’ll want to live vicariously and there are so many different romances that go on in Bridgerton because there’s something going on with every character. Therefore there’s a flavour for everyone and you can see yourself in any one of the characters. (The pandemic) sort of took it to the stratosphere.

What can we expect from season two?

It takes everything that we love about series one and series two just goes to a new level, we’ve got the inclusion of this amazing Sharma family, with three incredible female characters played by Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran and Shelley Conn, and they bring about them a whole history of intrigue and mystery. And of course, they bring a lot of flirtation and installation with Anthony. 

Related article: Bridgerton Has Been Renewed For Seasons 3 And 4

But listen, all the Bridgeton siblings will always be up to no good and up to tricks. So yeah, there’s a lot to look forward to. And, you know, in the best way, we now get to see another romance and we get to explore how humans can fall in love in multiple different ways. We fell in love with Daphne and Simon in season one and, hopefully, we will fall in love with Anthony and whoever he chooses.

His behaviour in episode one is very frustrating, choosing a wife just to bear kids and play a part in his family. He’s very misunderstood. Do you empathise with him?

Totally and I think he needs to be misunderstood in order for this series to be really exciting to watch. There’s nothing more satisfying to play a part where you’re keeping the cards close to your chest. 

It’s a reflection of the society that he lives in and the ridiculous responsibility that is put on the male figureheads in the family. It all comes from a place of love for his family but it’s a misplaced love and that’s what this series is about – him being challenged every step of the way. 

But what is great about Anthony, which I’ve never doubted, he’s got a heart of gold and he’s ready to pour that love into someone. He just needed help on how to pour it into other people in the right way. So, I’ve always had his back and I find him fascinating but we find out very quickly in episode three going forward exactly what has happened to him to end up in a complicated way of thinking.

Could this be due to his father’s death?

I think it’s true of a lot of people who have lost parents – it freezes you. Something happens inside you where you stop progressing and growing because the grief can just override. For Anthony, that was just one aspect of it because he also had all these siblings that he had to suddenly step up and fill other shoes for. 

He was a surrogate husband to Violet because she needed support rather than the family and he was definitely a surrogate father to his brothers and sisters without having dealt with himself. 

And as we know of Rupaul, in order to love someone else, you have to love yourself. Anthony’s on the journey of loving himself so that you can love people in a way that he really intends to.

In your life, have you ever experienced this type of heavy responsibility to take charge? 

It’s funny, isn’t it? We as humans, experience a whole wealth of things and something as extreme as what Anthony had to experience, will be felt in multiple other ways. I suppose the actual feeling of having to step up and take responsibility is about stepping into Phoebe Dynevor’s shoes for series two, but hopefully, I did it in a more graceful way.

Related article: Everyone In Bridgerton’s Season 2 Love Triangle Is Frustratingly Hot

How did you prep for season two?

For me, stepping into playing Anthony, I knew that there was a lot of work around his sort of psychology. The amazing Chris Van Dusen, our showrunner, just kept me in the loop about which bits of the book we were going to bring into it and how we were going to catch the audience up in Anthony’s life.

To understand his behaviour in series one and going forward, I met the amazing Simone Ashley during a chemistry test and that was a big part of it. We started to do horse riding together and just get to know each other, and then Charithra Chandra was cast a bit later on. So it was all sorts of like, it was amazing.

Then it was about reading scripts and I listened to the audiobook of The Viscount Who Loved Me – I got into a habit of listening to that every night while falling asleep. Suddenly, I started getting really, really aggressive dreams about Pall Mall and falling in love with Kate. So yeah, a bit too intense but that made me feel connected to the material during a time when we did not have scripts.

There is already a cheeky flash of skin in episode one, how did you prepare your body for Bridgerton season two?

Well, I have an amazing training but it was really about this year was about diet, I think. I just made sure that I ate really well and that wasn’t just for physique – mainly for energy. 

We’re getting up so early and it was kind of relentless because you have to be in every day. So, I watched what I eat and I try to train three times a week. (Training) was great because that was also the one time outside of the filming schedule where you’re in a whole different world. 

Pouring into the fitness side of it was a really good way of signing out and having that hour to just block it off. My bottom seems to be present in almost every episode. So the bottom needed to glow up as well in series two, for sure.

What did you learn about yourself through playing Anthony? 

I think when I started, I was like, there are absolutely no similarities. I love playing a character that’s really far away from me. He’s the eldest. I’m the youngest in a big family – that’s where the similarities match. 

But there’s such an extraordinary vulnerability to him, which is the one thing that I’ve always been curious about – people’s actions of control or the need for clarity is usually coming from a place of insecurity. I think what we get to explore in series two is just where that comes from and a lot of that is about responsibility and fulfilling duties that Anthony doesn’t quite understand. 

His level of anxiety is far more extreme than mine and I’m grateful for it. But when we get to those episodes, three and four, that explore a lot of Anthony’s psychology, I could feel myself getting anxious. I think you have to bring an element of yourself to every character you play. Let’s talk in a year, once I see the edit and bits online and then I will go: “Oh, no, that is me, bloody hell.”