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Bridgerton's Sam Phillips reveals how he and Luke Newton leant into on-screen rivalry – exclusive

The Lord Debling actor appears in season three of the hit period drama 

Megan Bull
TV Writer
May 20, 2024
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The ton has been abuzz with excitement this season! A perennial wallflower no more, Lady Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) has come into full bloom, attracting not one but two eligible bachelors. 

As Mr Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) grappled with his feelings for Pen, another suitor – the dashing Lord Debling – entered the fray, played by The Crown's very own Sam Phillips

Ahead of the release of series three, this authoress caught up with the British star, where he addressed Lord Debling's rivalry with the Bridgerton brother. 

Lord Debling holding Lady Penelope Featherington in season three of Bridgerton© Netflix
Sam Phillips made a point of contrasting the character of Lord Debling with Colin Bridgerton

For Sam, the actor was given a clean slate with his character, who exists solely in the Netflix universe and not in Julia Quinn's book series. "I went from looking at the script to picking apart the facts – what people were saying about him [Lord Debling]," explained the star.  

"I did the usual stuff that actors do to prep and then I thought about the contrast between him and Colin because I wanted them to be very contrasting. Where Colin is growing into himself, Debling's the finished article." 

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Honing in on the differences between Lord Debling and Colin Bridgerton, Sam added: "He [Lord Debling] is more comfortable in his skin and with who he is. He's comfortable being seen as the outsider, so that contrast was quite important for me to nail. I was looking at Luke [Newton's] wonderful performance in the show and going 'Ok how can I make that different?'"

In scenes, it was important to distance his character from Luke's as much as possible, but when the cameras weren't rolling, the actors enjoyed plenty of time together on set. 

Asked what it was like joining the cast of Bridgerton, Sam told HELLO!: "They were so welcoming. I know it's the big old cliché that it felt like a family, but you were welcomed in like a family. It was so reassuring to know that you were around people wanting you to do your best work and who wanted to get to know you.

Sam Phillips with Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan on the Bridgerton set © Instagram
The actor had a blast with his co-stars on set

"It felt like the first day of school going to the green room for the first time. I was like, 'Where should I sit?' But, I remember Luke Newton saying, 'Oh, come and sit over here with us' because there was a circle of people sitting around, and I just got chatting to them – people like Luke Thompson, Nicola Coughlan and Bessie Carter. Everyone was super warm." 

While Sam made a point of contrasting Lord Debling with his love rival Colin, the actor also collaborated with lead actress, Nicola Coughlan, to establish chemistry between Penelope and Debling. 

Lord Debling holds Lady Penelope's hand at a ball© Netflix
Sam worked closely with Nicola Coughlan to establish chemistry between Lord Debling and Lady Penelope Featherington

"She was incredibly warm and cared about the relationship between Penelope and Debling, and that was really important to get that right – to make sure that we had good chemistry on and off-screen," shared Sam.

"We got a chance to get to know each other more in dance rehearsals with our brilliant choreographer, Jack Murphy, so that was a really good way to get talking about the characters and getting to know each other. And then we had some nice rehearsal time with one of the directors, Andrew Ahn.

Sam Phillips and Nicola Coughlan filming a dance scene© Instagram
The duo bonded in dance rehearsals for the show

"Nicola's just fantastic as a leader," continued Sam. "I was very grateful to be with someone who had that confidence and warmth." 

All four episodes of Bridgerton season three part one are now available to stream on Netflix. Part two will premiere on June 13. 

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