To rework a line from Lady Whistledown on Netflix’s “Bridgerton”: Dear Reader, let it be known that if there is an audition, Backstage shall uncover it—and, of course, share every last detail. The popular period drama is Shonda Rhimes’ first project for the streaming platform as part of her $150 million production deal. The series from creator Chris Van Dusen is based on the novels by Julia Quinn, which chronicle the romances of the Bridgerton family as each member takes their places in Regency-era London society. The eight siblings—and their mother, Lady Violet—are at the heart of the show’s machinations surrounding arranged marriages, grand balls, and plenty of scandals.
With Season 2 dropping March 25, we’re here to share expert tips for those interested in joining the series’ high society. In this in-depth guide, you’ll find audition advice from the show’s casting director, updates on casting calls, and more.
- What is “Bridgerton” about?
- Who is in the cast of “Bridgerton”?
- How does the casting process work for “Bridgerton”?
- When does filming for “Bridgerton” Seasons 3 and 4 start?
- Where can you find “Bridgerton” casting calls and auditions?
- Who is the casting director for “Bridgerton”?
- What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “Bridgerton”?
The series was created by Chris Van Dusen, who also executive produces alongside Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”), Betsy Beers, and Julie Anne Robinson, among others. The show premiered on Dec. 25, 2020, and quickly became a global phenomenon. According to Deadline, Season 1 blew Netflix’s viewership projections “out of the water” and became one of the streamer’s biggest series to date.
Season 1 follows Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest Bridgerton daughter, as she goes on the marriage market in search of true love. When Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) declares her to be “flawless,” Daphne’s future as a debutante seems secure. But meddling from her overprotective older brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), quickly quashes any hope she has of marrying for love. Enter the dashing Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), the catch of the London season. He has vowed never to marry, but viewers watch his connection with Daphne slowly evolve. Meanwhile, society’s goings-on are carefully chronicled by the mysterious Lady Whistledown, an anonymous gossip columnist whose writings threaten to reveal the secrets that Daphne, Simon, and other aristocrats hold dear.
Season 2 will shift its focus to Anthony. The storyline is adapted from Quinn’s second book in the series, “The Viscount Who Loved Me.” According to Entertainment Weekly, Season 2 will also introduce a new family, the Sharmas. While Anthony finds himself drawn to Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), her “strong-willed” sister Kate (Simone Ashley) has plans to sabotage their courtship, ultimately luring Anthony into a love triangle. “It’s bestial between them in a way Season 1 wasn’t,” Bailey told EW. “They’re all animals with each other.”
The primary cast of Season 1 included:
- Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton
- Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings
- Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton
- Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington
- Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton
- Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton
- Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton
- Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton
- Polly Walker as Lady Portia Featherington
- Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury
- Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte
- Ruby Barker as Marina Thompson
- Jessica Madsen as Cressida Cowper
- Julie Andrews as the voice of Lady Whistledown
On April 2, 2021, Netflix announced that Page would not return for Season 2. However, the streamer did confirm several new key players:
- Simone Ashley (“Sex Education”) as Kate Sharma, Anthony’s love interest
- Charithra Chandran (“Alex Rider”) as Edwina Sharma, Kate’s sister
- Shelley Conn (“Good Omens”) as Lady Mary Sharma, Kate and Edwina’s mother
- Rupert Young (“Merlin”) as Jack, a nobleman
- Calam Lynch (“Benediction”) as Theo Sharpe, a printer’s assistant
Auditions for “Bridgerton” Season 1 followed the typical process: Actors submitted audition tapes to producers and casting directors, then navigated their way through callbacks. There were a few instances when some actors read for other roles. Bailey, for example, made his first impression when auditioning for the part of Simon. It wasn’t until he started talking to the production company and creator Van Dusen that they suggested he read for Anthony. “Ultimately, it’s really exciting when you’re told the character you should be thinking about,” Bailey told Oprah Daily. “They saw something in me, and they were like, ‘Go on, you can do it.’ ”
As “Bridgerton” casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry told Backstage, “We were lucky that we didn’t require ‘names’ for the roles, so we had a lot of freedom and could bring in anyone we felt suitable. A mixture of ideas, lists, and in-person casting kicked off the process, and then actors were either chosen by our creatives there and then, or we waited and brought most into the studio when we had the creatives in London for recalls. As the episodes went on and we were down to day players, we used a mixture of self-tape requests and in-person meetings with Cole Edwards, my associate on this project, who worked extremely hard.”
Phoebe Dynevor told Backstage that after submitting two audition tapes for two different roles, she didn’t hear anything from producers for about three months. Then out of the blue, she got a call asking her to meet with Van Dusen and producer Betsy Beers. They went through the scenes, and a few days later, they asked her to do a chemistry read with Page, who had just been cast as Simon.
“Shonda Rhimes was in the room, which was very daunting and exciting,” Dynevor said. “And the director and Chris Van Dusen, our showrunner, were in the room, and it felt good, and there was something exciting about that. In acting sometimes, there’s something quite intangible. You can feel the chemistry, and I felt that. But as an actor who obviously is fairly used to a lot of noes, you push that aside…. The next day, I got a call saying, ‘It’s yours. Can you fly out to London in a few days?’ ”
“I’ve cast a lot of ensembles, and I really love it when there is a massive world to create,” Hendry noted. “In that world, there are lots of different forms of chemistry: friends, families, and lovers. There was a clear distinction from the start between the Bridgertons and their neighbors, the Featheringtons. And once we cast a couple of them, the rest were easier to add.”
The audition process went quickly for Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington. “When I went for the first audition, I only had a couple of days to prepare; I didn’t have time to read the books or do anything like that,” she told Parade. “I just thought, I’ll give this a go, and if I get a second call, then I’ll read everything. But that didn’t happen; I just got the job.”
Although many of the older cast members are well-known in the U.K. acting scene, they still auditioned for their roles. “You know what I love about the cast of ‘Bridgerton’? They nearly all read for the parts, and that is highly commendable, especially for the older actors. I respect that hugely,” said Hendry. “We did ideas lists so when we did meet actors, we knew that we were serious about them already. Oh, how I wish we could have cast more.”
Due to the success of Season 1, the series was renewed for not just a second season, but a third and fourth as well. Netflix hasn’t confirmed when the future seasons will begin filming, but we do know that Season 3 will focus on the second-eldest Bridgerton brother’s search for love, per Glamour. Benedict Bridgerton, played by Luke Thompson, will take center stage in a season based on Quinn’s “Cinderella”-inspired third novel, “An Offer From a Gentleman.”
Currently, there are no open “Bridgerton” casting calls—but with a third and fourth season already guaranteed, we have a feeling that will change. Keep an eye out on Backstage’s casting section to stay on top of the latest casting notices from Netflix. For those who are eager to join a project now, we also have a roundup of similar projects that are currently casting.
The principal casting director for “Bridgerton” is Hendry, whose U.K.-based company, KVH Casting, assembled the ensembles for “Fleabag,” “Broadchurch,” and “The Last Kingdom.” Hendry is also a member of the Casting Society of America.
“Bridgerton” stands out among period television for casting people of color as lords, ladies, and royalty alongside white actors who, even five years ago, would likely have made up the entire cast. “I’m ashamed to say that the word ‘inclusive’ only started to be used a few years ago in our business,” Hendry told Vogue UK. “It was a world of white men making content through their own lenses. It wasn’t until recently that I felt confident enough to challenge the people I answer to.”
In that vein, Hendry says she looks “everywhere” for new talent. “That doesn’t take away the importance of training and drama schools, but if we are to be inclusive with our casting, we should be allowed to look for talent anywhere and everywhere,” she explained. “And we do. I won’t give my secrets away here. What I will say is I snoop around in fan sites a lot and pinch ideas all the time.”
She also has a few concrete tips for actors submitting to her casting calls. When getting in touch with CDs by email, Hendry recommends using a subject line that’s brief and to the point. “For example, in ‘The Last Kingdom,’ [I told actors] just be sure to say—if you happen to be Scandinavian—you put: ‘Scandinavian six-foot-five actor re: “The Last Kingdom.” ’ I’m definitely opening that, because I’m running out of big, strapping Vikings!” she said. “So just be clear in the subject [line], and keep it short, simple and specific.”
She also encourages actors to get comfortable with self-taping, particularly if they don’t yet have an agent. “If you get in touch in the correct manner—I just mean politely, at the right time—and you can get your self-tape to a casting director, then you’re off,” she says. Her tips for a self-taped audition include:
- “Personally, I don’t like white backgrounds. They don’t make you look as good. You want a blue or a gray, and you want to light yourself.”
- “You want to make sure that your sound is really good. And have your readers stand a little bit away from the camera, because you want to just hear them. Sometimes readers are terrible, and it genuinely does distract. Quite often, directors will watch with headphones on, and they’ll have really good headphones that pick up all the extra noise. It doesn’t take much for things to annoy people.”
- “Attempt to perfect your self-tape, but don’t think about it too much. That’s how you’re going to get jobs.”
If you end up in the room with Hendry, she says you can expect “an inclusive space, and hopefully a space [where] you can do your best work.” And you should know that she has some don’ts. “Don’t be in any way negative, or be disappointed you are seeing an assistant or an associate and not the lead casting director,” she said. “Believe you me, you want to be in the room with them. I am often stuck on long, boring business affairs types of calls, and my team is amazing at meetings. Please give them the respect that they deserve. They are tomorrow’s casting directors.”
If you’re hoping to join the series one day, check out this advice from the cast and CD:
Be persistent. Dynevor started acting at age 11, when she convinced her parents to let her attend an open audition for the film “The Golden Compass.” She didn’t land that project—but she got her first acting job on the BBC show “Waterloo Road” three years later. “Just keep going,” she advised young actors. “It’s funny, but it’s actually only when you start working or you get a bit of success that you look back and you go, ‘Oh, I didn’t get that ’cause it wasn’t right, and it wasn’t the right time.’ So just keep going, and be resilient, and learn your craft in whichever way you can. But know that it’ll come when you’re ready.”
Adopt a ‘fuck it’ attitude. It’s never easy to deal with a long string of noes. But Dynevor suggests approaching auditions with a different attitude. “I think when things started changing for me, it was [when I began thinking that] I’m not gonna go in and beg for a job,” she explained. “That was a little bit of a turning point for me, when I just thought, You know, fuck it. I’m just going to do what I think’s right, and they either take it or they don’t. There’s something to be said for playing a bit hard-to-get in those situations…. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it really does make a difference, I think.”
Pay close attention to notes. If you’re asked to return for a callback, Hendry stresses the importance of being able to take direction and listen to notes, either from a director or CD. “It is single-handedly one of the reasons that people don’t get the job: It’s that you can do a blinding audition with the directors, then I ask you to do it again, and give you a couple of little notes. If you do not do those notes, after the person leaves, they say: ‘I love their first tape, but they don’t take direction.’ Just make sure you change it as asked…. Get good at it.”
Stand out by being yourself. On a series like “Bridgerton,” whose casting is inclusive and racially diverse, those who may have hesitated to audition for period pieces in the past should feel emboldened to show off what makes them unique. CD Allison Jones (“Lady Bird,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) urges actors to embrace what sets them apart. “A different look is important. A real look is important. What you really bring to the part is important. Bring something of yourself to the part, because we’re looking for that,” she said.
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