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Bridgerton star James Phoon ‘excited’ by potential queer storyline

Bridgerton does loads of work by way of placing range on the forefront of its tales,” actor James Phoon tells PinkNews.

The rising British star is becoming a member of the forged of Netflix’s Regency period mega-hit for season three – its greatest and finest season but – taking part in Harry Dankworth, the hapless new husband to Prudence Featherington (Bessie Carter).

Phoon is discussing the latest promise by Bridgerton’s new showrunner Jess Brownell – who took over from Chris Van Dusenahead of this season – to introduce an LGBTQ+ romance into the present sooner or later within the close to future. It’s a prospect that Phoon, like his new co-star Nicola Coughlan, who performs Phoon’s sister-in-law Penelope Featherington, are thrilled about.

“Though it’s on this fictional Britain, and the illustration we see isn’t precisely the way in which that Britain was within the 1800s, these individuals did exist by way of totally different races, individuals of various gender identities, individuals of various sexualities,” Phoon says.

As an out homosexual actor with British and East-Asian heritage, that illustration issues. Harry Dankworth may not be queer, however that doesn’t imply the individuals round him can’t be. It’s a shift in Bridgerton’s in any other case heterosexual world that he’s excited to see come to go.

“Simply because we haven’t heard about them earlier than, and since the story and the highlight hasn’t been on them, it doesn’t imply they didn’t exist. It simply means we didn’t learn about them, and I feel that’s actually vital,” he provides.

“The growing illustration is so, so vital.”

James Phoon in a white striped jumper and blue jeans, laying down on the floor.
Bridgerton and Wreck star, James Phoon. (David Reiss)

Whereas he’s beforehand starred in BBC’s queer slasher comedy Wreck as Hamish, and is at present performing as Branwell Brontë, brother to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne in Underdog: The Different Different Brontë on the Nationwide Theatre, Bridgerton is Phoon’s greatest position to-date.

As he enters one of many greatest TV fandoms on this planet, he talks to PinkNews about turning into Harry Dankworth, being a part of the Featheringtons, and why extra homosexual actors ought to play straight roles.

PinkNews: No spoilers right here, however Harry Dankworth is certainly offering the comedian reduction in Bridgerton season three. Are you innately drawn to comedic roles? How did you carry him to life?

James Phoon: I actually love this character. He’s actually totally different from the opposite gents on the Ton. A whole lot of the opposite males on this sequence are the alpha male; they’re the bachelor who’s in search of a spouse, and really a lot the suppliers of the household. I feel what’s good about Dankworth is that he’s not that in any respect, he’s somebody who actually loves the thought of affection. He actually needs to be the right adoring husband to Prudence [Featherington], his new spouse. However he’s nonetheless fairly younger, and he doesn’t have that have, and doesn’t fairly understand how to try this.

We had loads of enjoyable, Bessie [Carter, who plays Prudence] and I, taking part in with that dynamic, particularly at first. We didn’t actually know one another, we simply met, so we might actually lean into little awkward issues like bodily contact, the place it’d really feel a bit of bit funky, since you don’t know one another but.

James Phoon as Harry Dankworth, with his new wife Prudence Featherington, played by Bessie Carter.
James Phoon as Harry Dankworth, along with his new spouse Prudence Featherington, performed by Bessie Carter. (Netflix)

Harry is type of like an endearing, Regency himbo.

When the [audition] tape got here in, it was all codenamed so I knew… that he had a brand new spouse and was very adoring of her, and he wasn’t very clever. However I didn’t know who any of the opposite characters have been within the scenes. I didn’t know they have been the Featheringtons.

I simply instantly bought the writing and the character; there was a lot to play with within the scenes that I used to be despatched. I feel my preliminary factor was that I wished to be sure that he was likeable. I feel it’s fairly straightforward to be an annoying himbo, however I wished him to be somebody who’s bought loads of coronary heart and he means the very best in each scenario, even when he doesn’t fairly get it proper.

Discovering out that you simply have been going to be a part of the Featherington clan, notably this season the place the main focus is on them, should’ve been extremely thrilling.

It was lots going into it, as a result of everybody else in that gang has been doing the present since season one. So that they actually know their characters and so they’ve been working collectively and grow to be buddies for years previous to me becoming a member of the present. I used to be very conscious I used to be like the brand new child in school moving into, and that’s what made me actually wish to do the story justice and match what they have been bringing.

James Phoon as Harry Dankworth in Bridgerton season three, alongside the rest of the Featherington clan.
James Phoon as Harry Dankworth in Bridgerton season three, alongside the remainder of the Featherington clan. (Netflix)

Harry Dankworth isn’t queer, however we all know {that a} potential homosexual romance is coming to Bridgerton quickly. As a queer actor, what does that imply to you?

I feel Bridgerton does loads of work by way of placing this range on the forefront of its tales. Though it’s in fictional Britain, and the illustration we see isn’t precisely the way in which that Britain was within the 1800s, these individuals did exist by way of individuals of various races, individuals of various gender identities, individuals of various sexualities. Simply because we haven’t heard about them earlier than, and since the story and the highlight hasn’t been on them, it doesn’t imply they didn’t exist, it simply means we didn’t learn about them. I feel that’s actually vital.

There’s loads of dialog right this moment about wokeness and trendy range, and I feel it may be straightforward for individuals to assume that these are all actually new ideas, however they’re not – they’re human ideas which are innate in us.

By way of illustration in a barely totally different approach, by way of race, I lately came upon that – I’m part-Chinese language – the primary Chinese language particular person to realize British citizenship was in 1805. In order that was round… 10 years earlier than season three of Bridgerton [is set].

James Phoon poses while sitting against a brown wall and wearing blue jeans white and red trainers and a white striped jumper.
James Phoon. (David Reiss)

Up to now, I felt like there wasn’t a spot for me in interval dramas set within the UK. However really, there have been Chinese language individuals residing right here and that man in 1805, who bought British citizenship, he married an English lady. I feel he died earlier than they’d youngsters, but it surely’s very potential that there have been different Chinese language individuals right here who have been having youngsters, and there have been combined race youngsters like me, within the 1800s in Britain, and we don’t hear these tales.

So sure, I’m very enthusiastic about this queer story that Jess is teasing.

Plus, Bridgerton isn’t precisely consultant of actual life within the 1800s. In season three, there’s actually a violin cowl of a Billie Eilish tune.

It’s actually fascinating as properly as a result of this present is so set round this courting season in London, and it’s all about this male-female relationship dynamic, so it’s going to be fascinating to discover how does a queer relationship match inside that society that’s so particularly centered on women and men.

It’s additionally nice to see a queer actor like your self taking up the position of the straight, loveable himbo, alongside Jonathan Bailey, one other homosexual actor taking part in a straight character. Ten years in the past on this trade, I don’t assume many homosexual actors would’ve bought the chance to play straight roles.

It’s a stability of either side that you simply want. There must be tales which have characters which are particularly queer, or particularly of the worldwide majority, and that’s actually vital. However I additionally assume it’s vital to have tales the place that’s not the main focus, and the place an actor doesn’t want to suit the fact of their character.

As an actor, you’re at all times doing one thing that isn’t you, you’re by no means 100 per cent your character. So why does your sexuality should match that factor? It’s only one fragment of who we’re as individuals, it’s not our complete identification. Not all homosexual persons are the identical. I feel the growing illustration is so vital.

Simply lastly – what’s it like being in all that Regency-era apparel throughout filming? 

The times are actually lengthy, particularly in case you’re capturing a ballroom scene. As a result of there’s a lot of mini scenes inside one scene, these scenes typically take as much as per week to movie. You might be in these costumes for like 12 hours a day, for per week.

Most of it matches very well as a result of the whole lot is customized made by the superb design workforce, so the whole lot matches completely. However the factor that does actually get me is the inventory, that massive tie that you simply put on round your neck. Simply having one thing tight round your neck for hours and hours on finish… I became a brick by the tip of day.

We’re filming over eight months, so we type of [filmed through] nearly each season. However this was the yr of that 40 diploma warmth wave [in 2022], and so there have been just a few days the place it was actually 40 levels, and we’re in all of those layers, like neck to toe with solely your palms and your head out of the costume.

James Phoon stars as Harry Dankworth in Bridgerton season three. The primary 4 episodes of season three are streaming on Netflix from 16 Could; the second 4 episodes will likely be obtainable from 13 June.

James Phoon stars in Underdog: The Different Different Brontë on the Nationwide Theatre in London till 25 Could.

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