Nicola Coughlan Shines in Teen Vogue, Discussing Ageism and Breakout Roles

Nicola Coughlan, star of Bridgerton and Derry Girls, opens up about ageism in the acting industry and her character's transformation in the upcoming season of Bridgerton. The new season, featuring Coughlan's character Penelope Featherington, will release on Netflix in two parts, starting May 16.

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Nitish Verma
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Nicola Coughlan Shines in Teen Vogue, Discussing Ageism and Breakout Roles

Nicola Coughlan Shines in Teen Vogue, Discussing Ageism and Breakout Roles

Nicola Coughlan, the 37-year-old actress known for her breakout roles in Bridgerton and Derry Girls, graces the cover of Teen Vogue this month. In the candid interview, Coughlan opens up about her experiences with ageism in the acting industry, her youthful appearance, and the transformative journey of her character Penelope Featherington in the highly anticipated season of Bridgerton.

Coughlan's portrayal of Penelope in Bridgerton has captivated audiences worldwide. In the upcoming season, three, Penelope's friendship with Colin Bridgerton, played by Luke Newton, takes center stage as it blossoms into a romantic relationship. Showrunner Jess Brownell emphasizes that Penelope's transformation is more about her confidence than her external impression, stating, "A makeover is a huge trope in the rom-com genre. Penelope does have her makeover, but it doesn't necessarily have the impact that she thought it would. For her, the change is much more about her confidence than it is about her external impression."

Coughlan reflects on the months of work that went into Penelope's evolution, saying, "That transformation took months of work as Penelope steps into her adulthood and finds her sexuality. Doing it as her character evolves was interesting for me as an actor." The actress, who is significantly older than her character, notes that people often make the mistake of patronizing younger characters. "When you are 17, you haven't lived as much life, but you are the same person. She was always intelligent," Coughlan asserts.

Despite often being cast as characters younger than her age due to her youthful complexion, Coughlan expresses excitement about finally getting to play grown women. The actress has also appeared in the dark comedy Big Mood, the box office hit Barbie, and will feature in the Doctor Who Christmas special later this year.

Coughlan's journey to stardom began in County Galway, Ireland, where she developed a passion for acting from a young age. With the support of her family, she pursued her dreams, attending the National University of Ireland Galway and later enrolling in the Oxford School of Drama in England. Her role as Clare in Derry Girls served as a stepping stone to her breakout success in Bridgerton.

As Coughlan steps into the spotlight in Bridgerton's new, season, she reflects on the challenges and rewards of taking on a lead role in one of Netflix's most-watched shows. "It was really challenging. It was terrifying. It was cathartic. It was a million and one things," she shares. The first four episodes of the new season will release on Netflix on May 16, with the remaining four episodes following on June 13.

Key Takeaways

  • Nicola Coughlan opens up about ageism in the acting industry in Teen Vogue.
  • Coughlan's character Penelope Featherington undergoes a transformative journey in Bridgerton season 3.
  • Penelope's transformation is more about confidence than external appearance, says showrunner Jess Brownell.
  • Coughlan is excited to play grown women, moving away from youthful roles due to her complexion.
  • Bridgerton season 3 premieres on Netflix on May 16, with remaining episodes releasing on June 13.