In the world of Shondaland's hit Netflix show Bridgerton, couples come and go, families rise and fall, businesses are created, and marriage marts yield surprising results every season. But in the ton, there has always been one constant: Penelope and Colin. Or “Polin,” as some stans like to call them.

As you probably know by now, Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton play Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, respectively. Colin is the third Bridgerton son, who, because of his birth position, is left in a bit of a no-man’s-land as far as heirdoms go. He doesn’t need to take on all the responsibility like Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), and he doesn’t need to be at the ready like Benedict (Luke Thompson). So, with little to ground him in his daily life, Colin keeps coming back to one of the few constants in his life — his friendship with Pen. And if you’re anything like us, watching how that relationship unfolds can feel quite frustrating at times.

“We’re trying to cover all types of relationships [on Bridgerton],” says Newton. “And there are some relationships that are heavy in the beginning, and it’s just so intense. And then there are some where people are best friends, and over the years they become lovers.”

Now, we’re pretty sure Newton isn’t giving anything major away there about future seasons — but we can dream, can’t we? In any case, as viewers of season two of Bridgerton have undoubtedly noticed, this season certainly sets Colin on a new path: one where he handles some potential business dealings with a deft hand, one where he grows up a bit, and, tragically, one where he is a right arse to his closest friend and confidant, Miss Penelope Featherington.

In his own life, Newton is no stranger to having gone down a few different paths. He recounted to Shondaland how he recently got to do a photo shoot where he was photographed in the back of a cab visiting all his favorite places in London, spots that have had meaning to him as he trained at London School of Musical Theatre and got his TV break in 2010 as Luke Atwood on the BBC Two drama The Cut. They even visited the bar at the theater where he served drinks to patrons going to see The Phantom of the Opera — the gig he had when he got the call to play Colin Bridgerton.

“I was working there and living in my friend’s spare room, sleeping on a sofa bed,” Newton reminisces. “I loved it at the time. But the difference in my life now compared to then, it’s off the scale. It’s crazy, and it’s humbling.”

preview for 'Bridgerton' Season Two — Full-Length Trailer

As season two of Bridgerton began streaming into households worldwide on March 25, we asked Newton to dish on the entire season (spoilers ahead!), and he did not disappoint. We get into that speech Lady Marina Crane (formerly Miss Thompson, played by Ruby Barker) schools Colin with, whether we’re all underestimating him, how difficult it is when he has to say something mean to or about Pen, and what we can expect from Colin (and Polin!) down the line.

VALENTINA VALENTINI: I really loved this new Colin strolling in with a bit more perspective, this goal of getting to know himself. But very quickly, I was like, “Colin! How can you be so dense?” He’s still kind of pushing Pen to the side, being one of the boys, et cetera.

LUKE NEWTON: When he came back and was sort of boasting about his travels and how he found himself, a lot of it was pretense. It came from a place of feeling like that’s how he’s supposed to feel returning from his travels. But he comes back with less clarity than when he left. Toward the end of season one, Colin feels like his best solution is to sort of run away from his problems and run away from the scandal and how he feels, hoping that it will give him some clarity, but it just makes things worse. I think he comes back with a sense of guilt because he’s been away from society and from the ton, from Marina herself and the part he played in her current position. He’s struggling to move on, feels like he can’t quite put it to bed yet. Which, of course, is all really fun to play because it meant that the character hadn’t had this massive journey of self-discovery that I didn’t get to explore myself as an actor. I didn’t have to just go along with him being a different guy now.

bridgerton l to r martins imhangbe as will mondrich, luke newton as colin bridgerton in episode 208 of bridgerton cr liam danielnetflix © 2021
Martins Imhangbe as Will Mondrich and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton.

VV: Yes, let’s get into it right away, shall we? That speech Marina gives him — where she basically tells him to move on, grow up, and get a life after he comes to check up on her — was pretty great to watch. But what was your take on it?

LN: I talked with Chris Van Dusen about what is that point that makes Colin go, “Right. I need something else to focus on. I need another passion. I need an ambition.” Something he can put all his energy into. We talked about it being that moment when Marina says, “You are a boy.” Colin thinks that now that he’s come back from his travels, he’s considered to be like his older brothers. He had an interest, he did something that people think was an exciting opportunity, and he’s taken it and completed it. But he’s come back and is still being called a boy and still being treated like he was by Marina last season. I remember talking to Chris about that being a defining moment that cuts deep and changes his focus. It’s there that he decides this is an avenue that he really doesn’t need to explore anymore. There’s another part in Marina’s speech when she says outright to him to look in front of your eyes and see that there are people who care about you, and she says Penelope’s name. She almost does what every person watching the show wants to do — to just shake him and say, “Look what you’ve got right in front of you!” But he’s too clouded with frustration about being called a boy, and I suppose part of that is ego. He doesn’t want to be talked down to by someone who’s made a family and a life for herself now. So, there’s lots going on in his head, which is why he can’t see what’s right in front of him. And his focus to try and be ambitious and have something else to look into is just clouding his judgment massively in terms of that.

VV: I’m not on Reddit, but a colleague informed me the other day that you are a favorite on the Bridgerton subthread. Anyone who even implies anything negative about Colin is drowned in downvotes. How do you think that subthread is going to look after people watch this season?

LN: Wow. I did not know about that. That is really lovely to hear. But I feel like he’s going to cause a bit of a stir this season. There are going to be mixed opinions. Can the fans look past a couple of mistakes that he makes? There’s definitely a couple of moments in this season that even as an actor, I was like, “Oh, god, that’s not a nice line to deliver.” It’ll be interesting to see people’s responses. Will they look past that and see that he still is doing a lot of good? There’s a lovely moment at the end of the season when he brings a load of young men to Will Mondrich’s [Martins Imhangbe] new club. That seems like a nice payoff moment, but then he’s kind of ruining all that with how he’s treating Penelope, and not even to her face, which is even worse. I remember when we first read the scene, where Colin says to Penelope, “You are my friend. You do not count.” And even though that feels quite mild, it is friend-zoning her, and because of what we’ve seen previously, it feels like a real stab in the back. That day of filming, we both thought that this was so horrible for Pen. This is traumatic. So, I’m excited to see what the fans think of season two, but I’m nervous to see the reaction to stuff like that from Colin.

VV: There are these moments between Colin and Penelope this season that continue that will-they-or-won’t-they thing. It’s been hard to watch that for two seasons now. So, will they have their chance next season?

LN: Being asked that question, I feel quite free about it because of how little I know. I can give my opinion on what I would like to happen, but I don’t actually know. I mean, I would love to know. I’m dying to know. And it’s probably intentional they don’t tell me because I could spoil it [laughs]. I know nothing, which is exciting and frustrating all in one.

What I love about their relationship is that it’s been a real slow burn. There are so many other characters that are introduced and love stories that we’ve seen through the last two seasons that have developed quite quickly, or that there’s been an instant spark, an instant connection. We as viewers see that immediately. But what I love about Colin and Penelope is the longevity of the relationship and how long it’s taken to get to even where it is now, which is not even considered a relationship. I really enjoy playing that. But moving forward, I’m excited to see what’s next purely because we’ve got to this heated moment at the end of season two where Penelope is basically … she’s pissed off. She’s pissed off at all the Bridgertons. It’s like she has no real loyalty or connection to them, and up until that point, they’d been protected by Lady Whistledown because of her connection. So essentially, I’m dying to see the first Whistledown published at the start of season three because it could be all of the Bridgerton secrets revealed all at once, getting us all in trouble!

bridgerton l to r nicola coughlan as penelope featherington, luke newton as colin bridgerton in episode 208 of bridgerton cr liam danielnetflix © 2022
"What I love about Colin and Penelope is the longevity of the relationship and how long it’s taken to get to even where it is now."

VV: After we find out that Colin actually did his due diligence with Lord Featherington’s sham ruby mines in America, I wrote down a note: “Maybe Colin is smarter than we all thought he was.” Have we maybe been underestimating Colin?

LN: I definitely think that. And also, even if it’s in a sense of loyalty to my character and not wanting him to seem like an idiot, I really hope that it is the case. I know people in my life who are very business-minded and intellectual in that way, and then some who are emotionally intelligent and know how to talk about their emotions can read people really well. That’s something that Colin lacks — he’s not aware of his surroundings and environment and how people are treating him. But what’s exciting about this show is that we just don’t know what’s going to happen. And we even shoot it that way. Like, I remember wondering what was going to happen in episode eight and panicking about Colin saying something really horrible — which he actually does — that’s just like real life, isn’t it?

We never know what’s going to happen. There was such a buzz on set before episode-eight scripts were released because it has such a dramatic build, and then we found out that so much does happen — it’s epic. But also, there’s the fundamental thing of being an actor and, like, wanting to know if you’re still employed. Are they going to kill you off, or is your character going to leave town? You know, at the end of season one, when it said that Colin goes off on his travels, I was like, “Oh, no, am I going to be gone for an entire year? Am I going to be here for season two?”

VV: When did you find out, though, that you were safe and you were coming back for season two?

LN: I got that call when we were told that we had the green light for seasons three and four. That was also an overwhelming call because it meant so much to me, knowing that Colin and Penelope’s story, we were going to get there. You never have any idea of what’s going to happen, or if we’re going to see that play out. So, when I got that call and [was] told that I was back for season two, I was like, “Brilliant. This is like doubly great news.”

VV: With season one, you didn’t get to celebrate the premiere in person or even just be out in the wild as yourself, Luke Newton. It must feel like a real sea change this time around.

LN: When it first came out, we were in lockdown, and I was hibernating with my family. It’s getting to be a lot more now with hyping up season two. It’s a completely different experience. When I’m on the streets now or going to press events and going to promote the show, doing shoots for magazines and stuff, that’s when the people are really starting to recognize me. Maybe it’s the Colin hair. The other day, I got on the train from Waterloo Station, and there was this massive screen that had the Bridgerton poster on it. I sent a picture to my mom, and she was like, “Hurry up and get on the train before someone recognizes you!” It’s just so cool. I’m loving the difference between the two years, and by that, I mean that I equally enjoyed being cuddled up under a blanket, watching season one with my family and friends.

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VV: Because we’re asking everyone the same thing — how did you get on with pall-mall? Are you quite a sporty guy?

LN: [Laughs.] I would say that I’m not the best, but I’m probably like second or third best.

Do you know what was really frustrating was that Jonny was really good …

VV: Oh, yes, we talked about it and about how competitive he is!

LN: He was so good! And had the least practice because he was busy filming something else. But, yeah, we had so much fun filming that, even though Claudia [Jessie] and I had a crazy amount of hay fever that day. Our allergies were through the roof. We’re on antihistamines, getting nasal sprays; Claudia describes it as having fluid coming out of our eyes and nose, and we were, like, trying to look all fancy playing pall-mall. We had puffy eyes as if we’d been stung by a bee, which is quite appropriate, actually.

VV: Does it feel different being a part of Bridgerton season two compared to being a part of season one?

LN: I love what the show has done for everyone, giving us this platform. Working with this particular group of actors is … it’s just priceless. Honestly, I’m working with so many actors on set who I admire and I have admired for years. I remember there was one scene with the Bridgerton family: We’re in the drawing room, and I’m eating something when Jonathan Bailey walks in, and he’s eating while delivering a line. I just got so entranced in him acting, I didn’t come in with my line. I think it happened three times. They were like, “Luke! It’s your line; you’re supposed to interrupt.” And I was like, “I’m so sorry. Every time Jonny eats, I can’t stop watching him.” It’s ridiculous. Now I’m like Jonny’s biggest fan in this interview. But I think working with this group of actors has felt like I’m learning something new every single day. How amazing is that? That this is my job?

Valentina Valentini is a London-based entertainment, travel, and food writer and also a Senior Contributor for Shondaland. Elsewhere she has written for Vanity Fair, Vulture, Variety, Thrillist, Heated, and The Washington Post. Her personal essays can be read in the Los Angeles Times, Longreads, and her tangents and general complaints can be seen on Twitter at @ByValentinaV.

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