Why Penelope From Bridgerton Looks So Familiar

Netflix's new period drama, Bridgerton, features a talented ensemble cast. Many of its stars have been in major productions before, such as Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne and has been on shows like Younger and Monroe, and Regé-Jean Page, who portrays the Duke of Hastings and was spotted in another series from Bridgerton showrunner Shonda Rhimes, For the People.

Another familiar face on Bridgerton is Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington. Coughlan will be familiar to viewers from another fan-favorite streaming on Netflix, Derry Girls. Per IMDb, Coughlan's other credits include Doctors, Ivan the Incredible, and Harlots.

Coughlan's character is overlooked for much of Bridgerton, but Penelope comes into her own as the show progresses. We won't spoil the show for you, but let's just say that Bridgerton doesn't hold back when it comes to scandal and juicy secrets — what else would you expect from a Rhimes show?

Nicola Coughlan is looking forward to playing Penelope in another season of Bridgerton

While Bridgerton hasn't been renewed for a second season yet, it seems likely that we will be seeing more of Penelope and the rest of the characters. Coughlan is already looking forward to filming more episodes. The show is based on a series of books by Julia Quinn, and Coughlan is excited to see how her character develops.

"I'm excited to see her be a young girl and have fun, and hopefully get a little bit more confident," she told Harper's Bazaar. "But having started connecting with her — she's like 28 in book four — I'm fascinated to see where that goes for her, how it develops and changes.

She added that there's a lot more in the Bridgerton universe to explore and she can't wait. "There's so much stuff," she said. "Because this is a big world, there's a lot of characters in it. We really just started to scratch the surface. There's a lot more there to kind of dig into."

Nicola Coughlan is just as fierce as her Bridgerton character Penelope

As Bridgerton fans know, Penelope is not a person to mess with. While she may seem like a meek and prim debutante on the surface, Penelope has a keen and witty mind. This may be a case of art imitating life, because Coughlan is also an outspoken woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind.

Bridgerton might be beloved, but it's drawn some criticism from people who don't approve of its diverse casting. Detractors think that, in order to maintain historical accuracy, most of the cast should have been white (via Vox). Coughlan, however, vehemently disagrees with this and spoke out about the controversy. Coughlan retweeted a tweet from Netflix at the beginning of January announcing that Bridgerton is one of its most popular original series ever. "You know the way some people were like 'Diversity in period drama doesn't work'....63 million households thought it did tho...," wrote Coughlan.

Coughlan wasn't just defending Bridgerton with her tweet but also standing in solidarity with her POC castmates like Page. "With color-conscious casting, I get to exist as a Black person in the world," he told EW. "It doesn't mean I'm a slave. It doesn't mean we have to focus on trauma. It just means we get to focus on Black joy and humanity."

Playing Penelope is a huge breakthrough for Nicola Coughlan

Coughlan has been acting since she was 9 years old, but her mainstream success is very recent. "It's really hard to wrap your head around," she told Elle of her growing popularity. "Four years ago, I still had a part-time job. I was working in an optician's. I was living at home with my parents."

The actress explained to the outlet that she spent her 20s just struggling to get by. "I was broke all of the time," she revealed. "If I wanted to buy a coffee, I'd be terrified my card would get rejected. It was all that stress."

Coughlan is now a bona fide star, but she told The Guardian that there's no danger of her letting it go to her head. After filming the first season of Bridgerton, Coughlan went home to Ireland to spend the COVID-19 lockdown with her mom. "I've had to acquire so many new skills!" she said. "I've been painting the house, I'm like my mum's personal chef, too, and she's quite a Gordon Ramsay about my cooking. I don't think there's any chance of me getting too big for my boots, when I'm down on my hands and knees laying her laminate flooring, is there?"