You rehearsed with the cast weeks before shooting. What was the mood during those sessions?
It was full of laughter and humor. Regé and Phoebe both have a wicked sense of humor, so that was absolutely wonderful. And Sabrina and Johnny, they’re such close friends. At one point we got called out by production, like, “Are you still rehearsing?” We’d been laughing for the last 15 minutes about something Johnny had said. A lot of the time we were just having so much fun.
Some of these scenes require real athleticism from the cast. Were any particularly difficult to film?
Yeah, we’re very clear about the fact that it’s like doing a stunt. I know there were a lot of people being quite dismissive of this work at the beginning, like, “Oh, it’s just simulating sex. How hard can that be?” Any actor that’s done it will tell you that working in this way is physically exhausting. And if you’re working with any sensitive material, it can be quite emotionally exhausting. Some of the hardest scenes—and all credit to Phoebe here—are the solo scenes because she didn’t have a partner to bounce off of.
Are there any scenes you look back on and think, “Wow, I can’t believe we got to do that?”
We do a lot on the stairs and ladders. [Laughs.] Practicalities like that could be quite complicated, particularly working at heights. That was one of our first days on set. In fact, I think Phoebe’s first scene was in the library, up that ladder. And it’s far down in the story too—it’s not an early scene. I remember being on set and saying, “Wow, this is really impressive that this is happening so early on. The actors are working with such confidence.”
The cast is also acting out these scenes in historic libraries and castles. Did you have to be careful when it came to how you choreographed some of these moments?
All of the honeymoon scenes were filmed at Castle Howard, a gorgeous castle outside York and pretty iconic for series that have gone before. It was quite nerve wracking being there. Every single time we were filming in the rooms there had to be…I don’t know if curator is the correct term, but someone from the castle who works there had to be in the room. I’m sure they had a very interesting time. I think most of them were content to just turn around and read a book. We were working with all original, hand-painted wallpaper and original beds. So that added other challenges as well because it was like, “There’s a lot of expensive stuff in this room.” But I know there’s been talks at Castle Howard of doing sort of a Bridgerton intimacy tour.
Were there any hiccups when shooting these sex scenes, even with all the rehearsal beforehand?
Johnny’s trousers ripped at the back [during the opening sex scene] very unexpectedly. There was a bit of maneuvering there, but we had such a great sense of humor about it.
Were there any Bridgerton sex scenes that the actors improvised or had a lot of input in?
When they are kissing up against the statue outside and it starts to rain, we did a lot of work with Regé and Phoebe. He was really great in that scene because it’s Simon sort of leading Daphne through this sexual awakening. So it’s really lovely that he is leading her this whole time out into the grounds, pulling her close up. Regé really wanted to do that kiss up against the statue, where Phoebe has her hands around his neck. He wanted to use that red kerchief in that scene.