Luke Newton on His Bridgerton Glow-Up & Close Friendship With Nicola Coughlan

by Kerensa Cadenas

Luke Newton
Emilio Madrid

Luke Newton looks completely fresh after a whirlwind press tour Bridgerton season three and the previous night’s New York premiere, with fanfare that, at this point, feels like it could rival that of The Beatles. The 31-year-old actor is in a long-sleeved black polo-style sweater, wearing silver rings he occasionally fiddles with. The third installment of Shonda Rhimes’s runway hit show has given him and costar Nicola Coughlan their rightful time to shine, as the eagerly anticipated romantic relationship between their characters Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington finally comes to fruition.

While much has been made of Penelope’s transformation, Newton’s Colin also begins the season with a major glow-up, as he returns from a raucous trip abroad a “new man.” But as the series progresses, Colin’s newfound sexy bravado begins to crack, as he’s tormented about what to do with his sudden feelings for his childhood friend Penelope.

Newton caught up with W to discuss his turn in the spotlight, his adoration of Nicola, and what might be next for Polin.

You've been serving so many looks lately. What’s your fashion evolution been like this season?

When I first got into the industry, I felt like there was such a detachment between the world of fashion and being an actor. But my stylist, Holly White, has made me feel really comfortable and confident in my choices. Even if my finger isn't directly on the pulse of what's current, it's about feeling like you can put a bit of your own style into a look.

Newton in a Versace tweed jacket with jewel buttons and Versace tailoring label, collarless shirt, and tailored wool pants before the NYC premiere

Emilio Madrid

Evolution feels like the season's theme, with both your and Nicola’s characters blossoming and there being a new showrunner, Jess Brownell, too.

It was important for Colin and Penelope to have that evolution, though they both go through it differently. Colin's glow-up happens while he's away, and it is through a lived experience. Penelope’s is a conscious effort to change. What’s really beautiful is that all the changes she makes are things she's wanted for all this time, like that she hated wearing yellow. The costume fittings at the start of the season told a thousand stories before I even got the scripts. I couldn't believe my first fitting; I went in and was like, how does this play out? How come I'm wearing this sort of pattern now? Hats off to all departments. They created this full story for me.

Colin has a physical transformation, but suddenly, he also has charisma to match his brothers, who have always been very charming.

That dynamic between the three brothers was one of my favorites. Every time he travels, he's trying to find something that belongs to him, that makes him feel like he has value, to prove he's not inexperienced compared to his older brothers. There's an element of pretense there, as he comes back and knows how to navigate his way through society and charm his way into any situation. It's not really him, and his journey is finding his way back to who he really is and who might help him get there.

The other thing about Colin’s new facade is that you know it will eventually crack.

All he's ever wanted is for someone to care about, love, and respect him for who he is. Because of the family’s position in society, there's the expectation to be stoic and try to tick all these boxes. But Penelope values him for the qualities he's had since he was a child. It’s interesting to look back on his traits in season one, like his sense of humor, sensitivity, empathy, and care for people. Those are still core values deep in his soul, and he just needs to find someone to draw them back out again.

Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023

Colin gets quite intimate—there’s a threesome and all the romantic scenes with Penelope. What was that like?

It was one of the biggest challenges to dive into such a nuanced character. Nic and I always talk about one scene towards the end of the fourth episode, where in the space of about five minutes, the dynamic shifts between them. The power shifts between them, and they play all these emotions in one tiny scene. It shows how beautiful the writing is. And the intimacy scenes were treated very much like stunts. We had stunt rehearsals and coordinators, and as an actor, to have an element of that in a Regency romance drama was a dream come true.

You and Nicola have worked together for a long time, but your dynamic seems entirely different now.

Having the shared years of experience between us feels like the only way this story could have been told. If they changed the order and we jumped into Colin and Pen’s story in season one, it wouldn't be enriched with this history of their childhood and seeing them grow and develop. I think that's what people really resonate with and support. It's been really special for Nic and me to have that with audiences. I realized during this press tour that it's not just the last season's work that we're celebrating. It’s the last five years of our life. The whole process together has been leading to this moment.

Newton and Coughlan

Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023

Was there a favorite Colin scene you played this season?

I did a play in London, The Shape of Things, that Jess and Nic came to see. It's a dark comedy, but there are rom-com elements, and they’d never seen me do anything like that before. The character had this sort of goofy confidence to him. Jess was like, ‘I'd love to put little elements of that into Colin.’ Weeks later, we were back doing additional shoots for season three, and a couple of those scenes were rom-com stuff. Getting to play that out with Nicola, I mean, she's an incredibly talented actress, but comedy is just her bread and butter, so it was an absolute treat.

How do you think Colin and Penelope getting together might hinder Penelope and her former best friend, Eloise? If anything rivals Colin and Penelope this season, it’s the friendship between those two.

We always say that the other great love story of the season is Penelope and Eloise. It’s cool that the show doesn't only celebrate romantic love. When I watched it back, it’s like that cruel-to-be-kind relationship between Colin and Eloise. It comes between Penelope and Eloise because of how much Eloise cares for her brother [Colin]. Every decision that Eloise makes on how to navigate the Whistledown secret is because of how much she cares for him, and she knows how sensitive it is. I think all of them come from a place of love. Hopefully, we can find some sort of middle ground where Penelope can be shared amongst the two.

Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023

Colin not knowing about Whistledown feels so stressful.

Nic and I always say that even if it was really straightforward and at the start of episode one, they got together, there’s still Whistledown. Jess has just done a brilliant job writing every other obstacle, but even after all of that, we've still got to address the elephant in the room. It's torturous.

Every Bridgerton brother gets his internet thirst. Are you emotionally prepared for that?

I think I'm going to have to check out for a little bit. Nic is the queen of the internet. She's got a finger on the pulse. She sees everything, so she'll send me the occasional hilarious TikTok or tweet. It just comes from a place of love. I've felt such an overwhelming sense of support for Polin. It started in season one, but it's just grown. People just see themselves in these two.

I think it's because it’s so natural.

I had a beautiful conversation with Adjoa [Andoh], who plays Lady Danbury. She said, “I think the intimacy scenes between you two are so raw and honest and authentic, and they feel like experiences everyone will have had. They feel so appropriate to the storyline.” I'm really excited to showcase that. Colin and Pen aren't the typical romantic leads that we've previously seen on television. It's time to celebrate their story.