In the last scenes of Bridgerton‘s second season, Anthony declares to Kate: “I love you. I have loved you from the moment we raced each other in that park. I’ve loved you at every dance, on every walk, every time we’ve been together , and every time we’ve been apart. You do not have to accept it or embrace it or even allow it. Knowing you, you probably will not. But you must know it, in your heart. You must feel it because I do I love you.”
That declaration of love in the final episode was a spectacular conclusion to the season-long enemies-to-lovers sexual tension between Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate (Simone Ashley). SW I had to ask Jonathan Bailey: Does he, like Anthony, believe in love at first sight? “Of course,” he replies, before I can even finish asking. “Of course I do.”
“I believe in romance and love in all forms,” he continues. “I believe that we all have to believe. That’s what is the fundamental faith that keeps us going.”
Bailey is a huge fan of love stories. “The romance genre, rightly so, is being given a platform in Bridgeton that it completely deserves. It’s the most joyful, optimistic, expansive narrative that you can absorb yourself into. Of course I believe in that,” Bailey tells Town & Country. To give Anthony a satisfying happily ever after was always the actor’s goal. “The last two seconds of the series are my favorite,” he says.
Anthony and Kate—affectionately dubbed #Kanthony—have created a whole new legion of Bridgerton fans who will not stop posting clips of their romance on social media. Anthony’s line to Kate in episode five, “You are the bane of my existence and the object of my desires,” has consumed my entire TikTok feed since the season’s debut on Netflix; the fanfare over season one’s “I burn for you” now seems tame by comparison.
They’re particularly drawn to the undeniable chemistry between Kate and Anthony. “These two are particularly complicated, stubborn, controlling, and really vulnerable people,” Bailey says. “That yearning is something that is so to do with them not being able to deal with their past, which inherently is quite sexy.”
For Anthony’s yearning, Bailey says he channeled classic romance heroes, naming Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Heathcliff of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heightsas two examples he turned to as a way to explore his character’s tragic backstory.
“The chemistry, really, was playing the truth of their emotional journey,” Bailey explains. “Knowing that this is the romance [genre], we all know that they’re gonna end up together.” The show deviated from Julia Quinn’s book by elevating Edwina (Charithra Chandran) as a more viable love interest for Anthony, but Bailey says the Edwina marriage plot is intended to show the strength of Kate and Anthony’s love story, and “how they were gonna be able to overcome so much. and that’s really is where the chemistry lies.”
“They’re like planets,” he continues. “There’s something about them—they’ve almost almost been in orbit with each other before they’ve even met.”
Bailey compliments Shondaland and Netflix’s “brilliant instincts” in casting his co-star Simone Ashley. “Simone made so much sense for Kate when I met her for a chemistry test,” Bailey says. “[The casting team] had only met her over Zoom, but they have such good instincts. Even before I went in for the chemistry test, it wasn’t like there were other potential Kate, they were like, ‘This is who we found.’ And it was right! She knocked them off their feet and, and it’s only right she went on to play Kate who knocked Anthony off her feet.
For said test, they read two scenes together: Kate and Anthony’s meeting on horseback in the first episode, and the moment they share in the library at Aubrey Hall in episode four. The library scene was initially written differently from how it appears in the season, and Bailey remembers that Anthony told Kate how his father had read him Robinson Crusoe when he was younger.
“There were so many little details that came and went throughout different incarnations of the script, but the two scenes were so juicy, and as we know it’s fundamental to these love story tropes: When they meet is as important as when they get together, Bailey says.
The on-screen chemistry between Kate and Anthony is all the more remarkable when you learn that Bailey is not straight. He’s a gay man, playing a straight man written by a woman. And it works so well. “I’ve been surrounded by women all my life. I’ve got three sisters,” Bailey says. “I love women. I talk to women a lot about sexuality and attraction to the female and the male form. So, maybe I’ve got an outsider perspective? Who knows.”
He adds, “But I do know that when it comes to a show that’s showing love from a female gaze point of view, you’d want it to be written by women, wouldn’t you? But also, this has got [showrunner] Chris Van Dusen as well, who’s a gay man.” Maybe anyone but straight men writing straight men is the key to a swoon-worthy romance hero.
When I ask how it feels to become a romantic hero overnight—or, to paraphrase Anthony Bridgerton’s words, the object of the internet’s desires? Bailey modestly replies, “Honestly, the thing that I’m thrilled about is that Anthony Bridgeton is my absolute number one guy.”
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