Showrunner Chris Van Dusen promises "more steam, more scandal, more sex."
After an incredibly popular first season revolving around Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, Season 2 of "Bridgerton" pushes them to the sidelines to focus on another member of the titular family: Anthony.
When the Netflix series returns with eight new episodes on March 25, Jonathan Bailey's character will take center stage as he searches for a viscountess and is thrown into a love triangle with newcomers and sisters Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran).
The trio was joined by showrunner Chris Van Dusen, Luke Newton (Colin Bridgerton), Luke Thompson (Benedict Bridgerton), Golda Rosheuvel (Queen Charlotte), Polly Walker (Portia Featherington) and Bessie Carter (Prudence Featherington) on Monday for a global press conference, where they teased what's to come for the season's central love story.
"Fans should expect a wild, wild ride in Season 2. I think we managed to take everything people fell in love with in the first season and put it into Season 2," promised Van Dusen. "It's just more. More steam, more scandal, more sex ... it's a wild, wild ride."
Bailey explained that Anthony is committed to finding himself a wife, as more of a duty and "taking love out of the equation." Of course, the Sharmas throw off his plan, forcing him to expose more of his vulnerabilities and anxieties as he and Kate in particular develop a love-hate relationship.
"In the beginning, they grind each others gears because they recognize flaws they see in themselves in the other person. They challenge each other," said Simone Ashley, adding that their budding relationship is the first time the other has ever shown someone else "what's under the surface." While Bailey recognized that the storyline plays into the "enemies to lovers trope," it's one he still finds incredibly enjoyable -- calling it both "passionate" and "complicated," while trying to avoid spoilers.
For the two actors, their first dance scene together was one of their favorites and, for Bailey especially, was a moment where he truly felt like the focus had really shifted to his character and they were "stepping into a love story" -- as they danced in a literal spotlight. He added that those dancing scenes in general, with their string versions of pop songs, are "where Bridgerton is at its best."
While the focus on Anthony may come as a bit of a shock to some viewers, it follows the books on which the show is based. That, for showrunner Van Dusen, was part of the appeal for him to adapt the series in the first place.
"The biggest difference are the characters we're focusing on ... it's a new story and that was part of the draw for me to sign up for a series like this," he explained, "the ability to tell these close-ended love stories season after season." He added he liked not having to come up with obstacles to keep relationships in limbo for future seasons and instead, fingers crossed, give everyone "their happily ever after."
For both Ashley and Chandran, their roles add even more to the already-diverse cast, as the show allows them to bring some real-life South Asian culture on screen.
"We are representing a minority -- of women in particularly -- seen on screens," said Ashley. "I think it's wonderful more South Asian women can identify themselves in these characters."
"They're immigrants ... they're transplanted into London and trying to fit in, trying to be as London as possible," said Chandran, who added that "in moments of deep sadness and jubilation, you see them revert back to their culture."
"Often when you're people of color, the stories that are told are that of trauma. What you see here is something they're owning, you're seeing joy and pride in culture," she continued. "We're from a generation where there was a lot of shame attached with being different ... I hope young girls ... can own that part of themselves."
Elsewhere in the press conference, the cast all looked at Bailey when asked who was responsible for the most bloopers on set, before they all summed up the new season in one word each. Among the superlatives: Tension, complex, sisterhood, betrayal, family, thought-provoking, yearning, romantic and Corgi.
Why Corgi? Well, fans of the show know that the Sharmas also come to town with a beloved pooch named Newton.
"He was very indifferent to me. The opposite of love is indifference. He didn't care," said Luke Thompson, while his on-screen brother shared his own frustrations. "I already have to share my first name with a fellow actor," said Luke Newton, "Someone's either shouting Luke or Newton and it's never me. So, thanks for that."
Looking ahead, Thompson also reacted to speculation the third season will revolve around his character's love life, as the third book, "An Officer From a Gentleman" focuses on Benedict.
"I'm really excited. It's just a breath of fresh air each time. Should it come, I'm really looking forward to it," he said, adding that even if Benedict isn't the central figure, he just loves to be on set, period. "I sort of think there's something about the show where it doesn't feel like we're sitting in the wings waiting for our moment. It's like an orchestra. It's such an ensemble effort the show ... it's so musical like that, it's so satisfying being in it. I don't feel like I"m biding my time. There's something all the time."
"Bridgerton" Season 3 premieres Friday, March 25 on Netflix.