With its mixture of Jane Austin meets Gossip Woman with 35 Shades of Gray, as described by Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Web page, Netflix’s Shondaland collection has taken popular culture by storm since its Dec. 25 debut. Redefining the interval drama and romance genres whereas making world stars out of Web page andPhoebe Dynevor, the variation of Julia Quinn’s novel captivated viewers to grow to be one in all Netflix’s most watched collection premieres.
As we’re awaiting a proper Season 2 inexperienced gentle, here’s a deep dive into the Bridgerton phenomenon with fascinating Season 1 particulars from one in all its key auspices, director Julie Anne Robinson.
Robinson was approached by Shondaland’s Betsy Beers to direct Bridgerton, created by Scandal’s Chris Van Dusen. Robinson, a British director who has been working within the U.S. for the previous 15 years, has been a Shondaland fixture, helming episodes of Gray’s Anatomy, Personal Follow, Scandal in addition to The Catch, the place she directed the pilot and government produced the primary season.
‘Bridgerton’ Star Phoebe Dynevor Says She’s Hoping To Return For Season 2, However Worries Filming Will not Be Potential Throughout Pandemic
“I was coming right off a pilot and wasn’t necessarily looking to jump into something right away, I had been tiring,” Robinson stated. “But I read the script. I love Chris Van Dusen, Betsy Beers is one of my favorite producers to work with, and a summer in England, It was just lovely.”
Robinson ended up directing and government producing the primary episode, which set the tone and magnificence of the collection, in addition to the a lot talked about Episode 6, which featured Simon and Daphne’s honeymoon, together with the intercourse scene montage to Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”, and the controversial intercourse scene that tackled the problem of consent. (Whereas Robinson directing the 2 pivotal episodes is smart, getting Episode 6 along with the pilot was not by design. “I ended up directing Ep. 6 because we were still trying to build all the costumes for Episode 2.”)
In an interview with Deadline, Robinson mentioned filming Season 1’s most talked about intercourse scenes and the sudden observers on the shut set, discovering the collection’ Duke of Hastings and Daphne Bridgerton, the selection of latest music and why the balls on the present look completely different from every other interval drama. She reveals that initially, the Bridgerton home was going to look lots completely different, what scene was essentially the most tough to shoot (trace: it includes horses), the etiquette coaching the forged needed to undergo, the lengths the manufacturing went to protect interval authenticity, and a shocking Bridgerton tremendous fan.
Casting Daphne and Simon
As a director of the pilot episode, Robinson was carefully concerned in casting the collection. When she first met with Shonda Rhimes and Beers to speak about casting, she shortly instructed that the present’s Bridgerton household must be various. (Robinson has been eager on range in her work, together with casting John Cho because the lead reverse Karen Gillan within the romantic comedy collection Selfie). The Shondaland group already had been considering in that path and introduced up the speculation by some historians that Queen Charlotte was of combined race.
“From that very distinctive vision, the casting choices unfolded naturally. It’s not color blind casting per se, it’s very specific choices,” Robinson stated.
Right here is how Regé-Jean Web page and Phoebe Dynevor acquired to play Season 1’s two romantic leads, Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, and Daphne Bridgerton.
Web page, who co-starred on the Shondaland ABC authorized drama For the Individuals, had been set within the function from the get-go.
“Shonda always always wanted Regé,” Robinson stated. “The person I am proudest of casting is Phoebe because we did see A LOT of people for that role. I saw her on tape. and I was just taken by her because she is so captivating,” Robinson stated.
Dynevor was the primary actress Web page learn with, and it was an immediate match.
“We managed to have this magical audition process with Shonda there where we put them together and I was able to direct them,” Robinson stated.”Regé was already pre-decided however Phoebe got here in and browse. She was improbable and acquired the function.”
Whereas Robinson began to see Web page as a heartthrob by the lens of the digicam from Day 1 of manufacturing, she admitted that going into the challenge she had a distinct concept of him.
“It’s interesting about Regé, I hope he is not offended by this but I never saw him as a sex symbol,” she stated. “I always saw him as a serious actor, very committed, a caring professional. And now look at him, I mean goodness me. It’s incredible, I hope he is the next James Bond.”
Episode 6’s intercourse scenes, finished with enter from an intimacy coordinator… and room screens
The intercourse scenes from Simon and Daphne’s honeymoon, most of which had been filmed in Fortress Howard, took meticulous preparation.
“I felt that it was very very important for the actors to feel comfortable with these scenes, and to feel confident,” Robinson stated. “And also there is so much learning in terms of consume that we had to do in terms what to take off when and where.”
She described the method of making a intercourse scene on the present, which employed Lizzy Talbot intimacy coordinator.
“I would rehearse with the actors, we would talk through the scene in detail, and we would decide what story was that the scene was telling,” Robinson stated. “Then Lizzy, who I trust immensely, went away, and it was almost like a stunt rehearsal. I would be doing dance sequence in the room next door, they would be doing an intimacy rehearsal. Lizzy would say, ‘Hey we are ready, we’ve got something to show you’. I would go in, I would look at what they did, and I would be specific about changes that I wanted just in the same way as I would be with a fight sequence and a stunt coordinator”
“We would keep working on it. When I was happy, I would bring Chris Van Dusen, who was a great collaborator throughout the entire production, and he would have notes. It was an incremental approach similar to choreographing a fight.”
Amid all the eye the scenes are garnering, Robinson stands by them.
“I was very proud of that because all that anybody talks about is the sex — undesirably by the way — but for me as a director, it was a storytelling challenge because it was about something but you couldn’t talk about and you couldn’t see, it was very delicate, and each scene had to tell a story. We achieved that; to get the nuances of those scenes right was my challenge as a director, and I was proud of the result.”
As for the story the intercourse scenes inform, “I think that it’s impossible to talk about female gaze without exploring issues of sex and power,” Robinson stated. “So I was very interested in Daphne’s journey in the episodes, and seeing something that is normally told through one set of eyes, seeing it through another set of eyes.”
The toughest scene to shoot in that episode? It’s a simple guess.
“Shooting the honeymoon montage was tricky because that was shot all over the country, in a room here and a room there,” Robinson stated of the montage to a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”.
Then there are the restrictions of filming intercourse scenes in an genuine Regency residence.
“When you go into a country house, there is far less flexibility than you can ever imagine, you can’t move the bed, you can’t move the painting, you can’t move the wardrobe, and you have to be quite delicate with the furniture,” Robinson stated. “So in the Duke’s bedroom, which was in Castle Howard, (Dynevor and Page) spent a lot of time in that bed, and there were room monitors in the room when we were doing the sex scenes, and they wouldn’t leave. The idea of a closed set is absolutely sacrosanct. But for these room monitors, their jobs were more sacrosanct to them. So they were in the scenes with us.”
The sudden wallflowers would create some uncomfortable/comical conditions.
“We would be shooting a sex scene and they would say, can you go easy on the bed, go easy on the bedpost,” Robinson stated.
When Robinson got here on board, the script for Season 6 had already been written with the controversial intercourse scene between Daphne and Simon the place she holds him down in opposition to his will. The scene, which has reignited the dialogue about consent, was very emotional for the actors to shoot, Robinson stated.
“I adore those actors, Phoebe and Regé, I admire them, and we went on a journey when we were shooting that scene,” she stated.
Places: Home swap, iconic fort, CGI sq. and matching solar gentle
From the second Robinson touched down in London in late spring 2019, it was a race in opposition to time to safe areas as huge nation homes are booked months prematurely. Her very first day there, she, manufacturing designer Will Hughes-Jones and his group visited Fortress Howard, which Robinson knew from Brideshead Revisited and had visited along with her household whereas vacationing the yr earlier than. It was booked on the spot for Episode 6.
Robinson’s English background got here in helpful. “For example, the Bridgerton house, I used to walk past that every day, I used to live right there,” Robinson stated earlier than making a revelation.
“Originally, that was the Featherington house; Betsy and Chris decided to switch that to be the Bridgerton house. I’m really glad they did.”
The change occurred throughout an elaborate presentation Robinson and Hughes-Jones made for the producers.
“The Featherington house, Will and I loved it because it was a very, very classic Regency house but in retrospect, it did look rather cold, and that was the vibe we were going with the Featheringtons. And then the way Betsy put it with the with the Featherington house that became the Bridgerton house, the one I walked by every day, it is kind of reaching out, its arms reach out to embrace you. It’s much more of a homely home.”
The 2 home exteriors in two completely different cities (Greenwich, London and Tub) are a part of the luxurious Grosvenor Sq., which in actuality doesn’t exist.
“There is not much Regency England left, which is hard to comprehend,” Robinson stated. “So you are almost doing sci-fi type show; you are finding these pieces that work for the show and then you do a lot of green screen and a lot of creation.”
That features the Grosvenor Sq. which was constructed utilizing CGI throughout post-production integrating the 2 actual homes.
“The production difficulties of that were so huge because we had to shoot across people, we had to somehow join these houses, we had to shoot at the right time of day so the sun matched. It was incredibly logistically tricky,” Robinson stated.
Visible results prolonged past buildings to background actors.
Bridgerton used an unlimited variety of extras — the present employed some 200 background dancers as a result of “we wanted all the dances to feel rich and full.” They had been all sporting “absolutely extraordinary costumes, down to the finest detail.” (The collection used some 7,500 items of clothes in Season 1, all created particularly for the collection.)
However “sometimes we didn’t have enough costumes, so what we did, we would green screen people and would be able to replicate them in order to achieve the sense of fullness that we really wanted,” Robinson stated. “In the ballroom scene we didn’t do it but there were other scenes. For example, when Daphne goes to the Queen, there is a certain amount of doubling up, doubling up, doubling up in order to create the sense of chaos and fullness.”
That may very well be a method the present employs extra usually a Season 2 as star Dynevor final week expressed concern about filming a present with so many background performers — and a fair proportion of intercourse scenes — through the pandemic.
Alternative of first scenes shot
The very first scenes for 3 main characters in Season 1 had been all intercourse encounters, Simon and Daphne’s library romp (a part of the honeymoon montage) and Anthony (Jonathan Bailey)’s escapade with Siena in opposition to a tree. It was not a inventive determination.
“There is far less choice than people understand in terms of production, in terms of scheduling,” Robinson stated. “For this production in particular, it’s very important to start small with a limited number of actors because that gives hair and makeup a chance to build the rest of the cast while you are shooting a scene.”
There was one other issue within the library scene’s timing.
“We were shooting in this very stuffy Reform Club, and we had a scene upstairs with Phoebe and Regé and then a big scene downstairs with a large number of cast,” Robinson stated. “Unfortunately, that place was available one specific date only. I think I wouldn’t have chosen to do it that way. I believe as a director, we are going to have do it sometime, we should just dive in and shoot it, because it was the right location and it was our only opportunity to shoot in that location. It is not a perfect world, sadly.”
Studying curve — etiquette coaching, horseback filming
“As much as it was a voyage for the actors, it was also a voyage for me because I had never done period before,” Robinson stated about engaged on Bridgerton.
“We did etiquette rehearsals – there are so many things that you don’t even think about – we had learn how to do curtsy, we had to learn how to bow, we had to learn how to nod our head,” she stated. “For example, there is a thing called ‘the cut’ in etiquette terms. It’s where you are standing in a ballroom and you look across the room and catch the eye of somebody else. You might nod and the person across the room can look away without acknowledging you, that’s called ‘the cut’. I love that because that’s what happens now, there is nothing worse. Everything (on the show) was couched in terms of what the contemporary relevance was.”
A veteran director, Robinson additionally realized one thing new about her craft whereas filming Bridgerton.
“There is a scene in Episode 1 where Phoebe and Jonathan are on horseback and having a very long, very important conversation,” Robinson stated in regards to the scene, by which Daphne confronts her brother about his meddling in her amorous affairs. “That is one of my favorite scenes that I have ever directed.”
Capturing it concerned Dynevor taking using classes. “And then we had to shoot the scene. I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get these horses to ride side by side so I could get a nice two-shot or a single. It was horrific.”
Whereas Robinson was having a tough time directing two human and two four-legged actors on the identical time, an English crew member got here to her and requested her why she was utilizing actual horses.
“And then he showed me this mechanical contraption that apparently every other period production in England uses. Two horses, they bop up and down and you paint them horse color,” she stated. “Nobody mentioned it so we have this scene, which must be very very rare – two horses riding along. I think the actors, they did such a brilliant job with that scene, and I apologize to them for putting them through it.”
Robinson additionally confirmed earlier feedback by Web page in regards to the horses being actual divas on set who would take off anytime somebody yells “Action”. In consequence, all “action” calls had been finished in a whisper within the presence of horses, she stated.
Filming a ball the laborious method
“It was incredibly hard,” Robinson stated of filming the primary ball scene. “It was very, very lengthy. And the best way that Chris writes, it’s virtually like he writes in a montage at occasions. It’s layer upon layer of element and complexity, and conversations are dashing about all around the room.
“In addition to that, my DP Jeff Jur and I decided to shoot into the body of the room rather than towards the wall,” Robinson stated. “If you look at a ballroom scene, traditionally it’s shot towards the wall. Obviously, if you shoot toward the dancing, you have to be incredibly precise and specific about what exact dance move someone is doing in that specific point of the dialogue.”
That meant in depth rehearsals and timing the dancers “so we knew exactly what dancers were happening where at what point.”
It was a painstaking course of however “we had a very strong idea about how we wanted to shoot it, we wanted the sense of momentum and life.”
In preparation for the shoot, Robinson and her group watched such movies as The Duchess, Warfare and Peace, The Pink Footwear, and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
However whereas Bridgerton is getting discover for its look and brilliant colours, that was not a focus.
“I didn’t want to let the style to overwhelm the story,” Robinson stated.
Bridgerton’s Pop Soundtrack
Viewers had been in for a shock when the primary of 11 balls in Season 1 opened with Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next”. It was the primary of a slew of instrumental classical covers of widespread songs, together with Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You”, Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood”, Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and Celeste’s “Strange”, together with Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”.
“That was something that I was very, very keen on right from the very beginning, and luckily Shondaland was on board with it,” stated Robertson, who lists the Heath Ledger starrer Knight’s Story, identified for incorporating basic rock songs, as a reference.
“The dancers were choreographed to contemporary music (watch below a clip from a dance rehearsal to Ed Sheeren’s “Perfect”) however it may very well be danced to music from the period in case folks acquired chilly ft in put up,” Robinson stated. “We had a range of choices so we could go more contemporary or less contemporary just to make sure have tonal references in post-production. If we wanted it to be more restrained, we could do a more restrained version.”
Having dancers rehearse to modern hits gave them “a kind of boost and, because all the actors obviously had to learn the choreography, they understood from that moment what we were not doing a traditional period show, we were doing something slightly different,” Robinson stated.
No Starbucks cups & Filming Round The Man in Orange
Whereas Bridgerton has needed to sometimes reshoot outside scenes when a airplane would fly over, Robinson stated that there have been no indicators of contemporary world that snuck their method onto movie when she was working with the footage throughout post-production within the vein of the notorious “Starbucks cup” on Recreation of Thrones. That’s largely attributable to manufacturing designer Hughes-Jones’ unorthodox technique how to not permit any non-Regency visuals into the present with the assistance of on-set artwork director David Crewdson.
“Will was obsessive about period detail,” Robinson stated. “He would get David to dress in orange. If there was something Will didn’t like, if there a roof he didn’t like, David would go and stand there and wouldn’t move. We would know that we couldn’t move the camera where we would see this guy dressed completely in bright orange. That was a great idea.”
A nun’s approval
Robinson didn’t discover out about Bridgerton‘s breakout success right away as she never read reviews, previews and interviews about any of her work. Gradually, she became aware of the show’s reputation from congratulatory emails which additionally broke the information to her that Season 1 had scored greater than 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Then she realized of Bridgerton‘s worldwide enchantment first-hand.
“My mom said to me, I’m buying a new television to watch Bridgerton,” Robinson stated. “And then she told me that for her best friend, a nun in her 80s, it was her favorite show. She sent me a picture of this nun going thumbs-up.”