“The characters just bounced off the page”: India Amarteifio, Golda Rosheuval, Arsema Thomas, Ruth Gemmel and Corey Mylchreest on Queen Charlotte – A Bridgerton Story
Bridgerton is one of Netflix’s most renowned titles with its majestic balls, over-the-top costumes and abundance of intimate and explicit scenes. It recently spawned a prequel spinoff set in the Regency period, featuring the characters of Viscountess Bridgerton, Lady Danbury and the titular role of Queen Charlotte. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story focuses on the initial betrothal of 17-year-old Charlotte to the mysterious king of England, King George III. It recounts their meeting, their marriage, and all the trials and tribulations that come with a royal partnership, as well as the declining mental health of the king. The series also slips into the present-day Queen Charlotte – a period in time that sits primly between Season 2 and the upcoming Season 3 – as she contemplates her lack of a legitimate heir.
In honour of the series’s international premiere, The Upcoming was invited to a round of interviews with some of the cast: Ruth Gemmel (Viscountess Violet Bridgerton), Golda Rosheuval (Queen Charlotte), Arsema Thomas (young Lady Agatha Danbury), India Amarteifio (young Queen Charlotte and Corey Mylchreest (young King George). Discussions included whether or not Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story can be considered a standalone, the older actresses and their thoughts on the portrayals of their younger versions, inspiration and research into their characters, the work of writer Shonda Rhimes, as well as the love story between Charlotte and George.
In discussing how this series fairs in its own right, Gemmel references a couple of revelations for the future of Bridgerton: “There are some things realised later in season three of Bridgerton, and there are some revelations in Queen Charlotte for the Regency period. But also, it’s a standalone piece because it’s a focused backstory on Queen Charlotte and her past and her marriage, and that’s pretty much standalone from the rest of the series.”
That being said, the younger actors do their best to keep the spirit of the established characters alive. Rosheuval, especially, is impressed by Amarteifio’s performance as Queen Charlotte: “You’d be interested to know that we didn’t work at all together on-screen. Our roles were filmed separately. But we did have a beautiful meeting on a very, very sunny day before filming, where I kind of gave her the advice of taking the role and making it her own. Charlotte’s very sure of herself, Charlotte’s unapologetic, and India knew that and had a sense of that right from the beginning. I think it’s absolutely magical what she’s done because she got it straight away and that had nothing to do with me.”
Thomas and Mylchreest also go above and beyond with their research to not only honour the characters they play but also accurately present the journeys that Lady Danbury and King George go through. For Thomas, it’s that internal struggle that comes with arranged marriages, something she turned to her grandmother for: “My grandmother was in an arranged marriage at seven years old, and so discussing that with her – what that is like and not to harbour animosity – was a really informative experience.”
As for Mylchreest, his focus stays mostly on the mental health aspect of George’s character: “Objectively, as a show, we don’t diagnose him. Because he was never diagnosed. What we do know is he’s got this affliction that is terrifyingly crippling and painful for him every day. Me, personally, I had to make a choice, because, otherwise, the work would be incredibly unspecific. I was lucky enough to have access to a specialist whom I spoke to for a number of hours when I first received the script and then worked with him later as well. The most poignant thing is his relationship. The universal theme is a man’s relationship to that and the effect that it has on his sense of shame and self-hatred.”
It helps that these actors have an incredible writer heralding the entire project in the form of Shonda Rhimes. Known for her work on Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19 as well as Viola Davis’s How to Get Away with Murder; Rhimes writes a truly impactful story with even stronger characters. Rosheuval exclaims that, in the script, “the characters just bounced off the page” while Thomas references growing up with her work and having email correspondence with the writer over crafting the character of Agatha: “I’m an academic person, so I have 1001 questions for everything. She would answer immediately and in full detail, because I think she understood that this is the way that I work. So, having that two-way street of respect was one of the most refreshing experiences.”
Finally, on the topic of George and Charlotte’s relationship, Mylchreest and Amarteifio discuss the stark contrast in the light of their beginning and the current darkness that shadows their present day. According to Mylchreest: “It felt like we had even more responsibility to tell the initial beauty of the youth of their love in the dawn of it – because it’s a very bright dawn, and a very cold and dark night at the end. There’s even more importance for the light of their love at the beginning.” Amarteifio adds, “I have seen Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton before, being on the project, and I was one of the audience who wanted more. I wanted to know more about this mysterious king, and I knew that there was more to Charlotte than what we saw.”
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is released on Netflix on 4th May 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the official trailer for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story here: