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Hannah New in character as Lady Tilley Arnold© Netflix

Bridgerton star Hannah New reveals 'uncomfortable truth' in groundbreaking storyline - exclusive

Hannah is playing original character Lady Tilley Arnold

Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
June 13, 2024
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Bridgerton season 3 has just dropped the second part of its third season, and one of the most refreshing parts of this series has been the introduction of original character Lady Tilley Arnold, played by Hannah New.

Described to the actress as a "badass widow" she admitted exclusively to HELLO! that due to codewords used, she didn't originally know she was auditioning for Bridgerton until a friend spilled the beans for her.

Lady Tilley has been a breath of fresh air for the Ton with her independent nature, space-age costumes and liberal attitude towards love, something that will play a key part in her development in upcoming episodes.

"There is a way in which she has to admit some stuff to herself, that is not really comfortable for her or for those around her," Hannah teased to HELLO!. "It leads to a very beautiful, rounding up of Benedict and her interaction, but you really don't know where it could go.

Hannah New and Luke Thompson in Bridgerton© Netflix
Hannah's character is new to the series

"There's so much in their story, that they've already given each other in that relationship. We're going to see some very, very sexy scenes, very titillating."

The storyline in question is groundbreaking for Bridgerton, and mainstream show in general, as it focuses on a polyamorous relationship that Lady Tilley is involved in. Lifting the lid on this, Hannah explained: "Lady Tilly comes at it from a polyamorous standpoint, and she is open to the idea that love between any, anybody no matter what sex is love.

Hannah New and Luke Thompson together in a tent© Netflix
Hannah praised the importance of her storyline with Luke

"That's what's really beautiful about the storyline between them is that she doesn't judge anybody, but she also sees that there is such a potential for pleasure and living authentically as yourself when you are offered those situations."

Teasing some hardships for the character, she continued: "Within a regency context, we need to really look at it and say the stakes here are death, that's the reality of it at that time. As much as these characters are really engaging in being themselves authentically and having these relationships and loving in a way that isn't bound by heteronormative ideas, it's hard because all of them are living in a time where there isn't that acceptance and ability to just be who you are.

Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton, Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton in Bridgerton© LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX
What twists and turns will we see for the rest of the series?

"It's really important to state that these relationships and these ways of loving have existed since time immemorial and that's really important to be showing on screen. If you look at letter writing between women at the time, it is steamy stuff, but we don't see it necessarily on screen in the way that we should. There is a very wonderful thing about the way they've written this particular storyline, it is open and loving, there's no point at which the characters are not authentic to who they are."

Hannah concluded: "I really hope that it speaks to the community because when you look at polyamory and how it's perceived now, there's still so many battles for families who live polyamorous relationships. The storyline's not done in a way that's titillating or overly gratuitous, every single moment is imbued with this concept of consent."

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton© Liam Daniel/Netflix
The third series has focused on Colin and Penelope

Also during our interview, Hannah spoke about the incredible costumes that Lady Tilley gets to wear, revealing part of the inspiration was the Madame X painting by John Singer Sargeant. The star explained how surprised she was with how risqué and space-age some of her outfits were.

DISCOVER: Is this Bridgerton season 3 moment the most unintentionally funny scene the show has ever done?

READ: Bridgerton boss addresses show future and teases season 4 plans

"What it really felt like putting on those costumes is that this is a woman who has so much appreciation for her own body, for the way she looks," she explained. "There's a lot of self-love in the way she dresses because she doesn't care about how what anybody else is going to think.

"She's very much tapped into her own sensuality and how dressing can enhance that feeling. She is on the edges of the 'Ton and she likes to come into it and shake it up. What's so refreshing about playing a character like that is that she can do what she wants, she can come in, and she's an independent woman, financially, sexually, emotionally, so she can just come in and observe and enjoy what the 'Ton and what society has to offer, but she doesn't have to play by the rules."

Bridgerton books in order

Will Tilston as Gregory Bridgerton, Florence Emilia Hunt as Hyacinth Bridgerton, Ruby Stokes as Francesca Bridgerton, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Phoebe Dyvenor as Daphne Basset in Bridgerton© LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX
Will Tilston as Gregory Bridgerton, Florence Emilia Hunt as Hyacinth Bridgerton, Ruby Stokes as Francesca Bridgerton, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Phoebe Dyvenor as Daphne Basset in Bridgerton

The Bridgerton book series in order

  1. The Duke and I 
  2. The Viscount Who Loved Me 
  3. An Offer From a Gentleman 
  4. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
  5. To Sir Phillip, With Love
  6. When He Was Wicked
  7. It's In His Kiss
  8. On The Way To The Wedding

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