The moment has arrived for Luke Newton, the new ‘Bridgerton’ boy who had pop star dreams

Trained as a musical theater actor and with a Disney star past, the Brit is the talk of the town after his starring turn alongside Nicola Coughlan in the Netflix series’ third season. Fame has come calling: he now gets recognized by name out in public — his own, rather than his character’s

Luke Newtown at the premiere of the third season of ‘Bridgerton’ in New York, May 13, 2024.
Luke Newtown at the premiere of the third season of ‘Bridgerton’ in New York, May 13, 2024.Arturo Holmes (WireImage)
Elena Muñoz

Settling into the sofa to watch Paul Rudd rom-coms constituted the perfect evening for Luke Newton, 31, during the filming of the third season of Bridgerton, in which he shares top billing and an on-screen love story with Nicola Coughlan. The season was divided into two parts: Netflix premiered the first four episodes on May 16 and on June 13 came the rest, culminating with a romantic climax between Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington. Despite forming part of the cast of the successful series since it began in 2020, Newton played a minor role, relegated to secondary billing behind the dashing performances of Duke Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page) and Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey). But at last, his moment has arrived and he’s made it clear during the six months he’s spent promoting this season that he’ll be rising to the occasion. “I have realized during this press tour that we are not just celebrating the release of the latest season, but also the last five years of our lives. The entire process together has brought us to this moment,” he said in one of his interviews on the junket.

The Netflix effect has rendered Newtown one of the most-sought-after British actors, but his first incursions into the entertainment industry pointed in another direction entirely. Music was his first love, so much so that he joined a group, South 4, alongside three other members. Though the band’s trajectory was short (they broke up soon after their start), they did put out one song and, according to local press at the time, signed a million-pound contract with the label Eagle Music. News of his past as a One Direction-style boy band member reached the ears of castmate Coughlan, who spun it into a prank on set when she ensured that the group’s sole track played instead of the scripted music during the shooting of a ball scene.

Newton’s passion for music comes from his father, who appeared on Stars in Their Eyes, a wildly popular competition that aired on United Kingdom television from 1990 to 2006, as well as from his aunts, who are musical theater actresses. In fact, it was seeing them act in Les Misérables as a little boy that his interest in the profession was first piqued. Music brought him to acting and to taking part in small local productions. He was still a teen when a theater agent noticed his talent in an adaptation of Billy Elliot. It was the push he needed to take himself seriously. He enrolled at the London School of Musical Theatre with the goal of carving out a career as a musical actor. In 2010 came his professional debut, beyond the amateur circuit.

Luke Newton in a scene from the third season of 'The Bridgertons'.
Luke Newton in a scene from the third season of 'The Bridgertons'. ©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection / Cordon Press

Newton later became one of the protagonists of the BBC Two teen drama series The Cut. For a time, he played small roles on British TV shows, until 2016, when he became a Disney boy acting in the musical series The Lodge. Still, during the years that followed, his opportunities slowed to a trickle. Castings didn’t go his way and he began to work in a bar to pay his bills as he attended audition after audition. Such was the situation when, in 2018, he tried out for the role of Duke Simon Basset. He wasn’t chosen for that gig, but they did offer him the role of Colin Bridgerton.

Is there (professional) life after Netflix?

After several years of working together, Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan have become great friends and that trust has played in their favor when it came time to film sex scenes, the likes of which have turned Bridgerton into a global phenomenon. “You never really know how you’re going to look on camera kissing someone, because when we kiss people in our day-to-day lives, we don’t do it for the camera; it’s just for love and passion. So, it was a daunting moment, because we wanted it to look beautiful, but also still truthful and authentic to the story in that moment,” he told Harper’s Bazaar of the filming of those scenes, which were always carried out with the help of an intimacy coordinator. The effort they put in during those months of shooting has been recognized by fans: according to a Netflix press statement, the first half of the season had the largest audience in the history of the series, drawing 41 million views in its first four days.

Luke Newton (third from right) with the cast of the Disney Channel series ‘The Lodge’.
Luke Newton (third from right) with the cast of the Disney Channel series ‘The Lodge’.Peter Pedonomou (Disney Channel via Getty Images)

It was at the start of filming for the second season when producers informed Newton and Coughlan that they’d be the stars of the next round, a moment that the actor describes as “the opportunity I’d been waiting for my entire career.” “I immediately got excited for the challenge that I had in front of me. I began to look at the last scripts of the second season for clues as to the future of my character,” he said in an interview with Número magazine. While the show is based on a series of books by U.S. writer Julia Quinn, Newton himself has admitted that he has yet to read all the novels. “I haven’t read the fourth book yet, though. It’s called Romancing Mister Bridgerton. I’m actually dyslexic, but I’ve decided to read each book before its corresponding season. So, it’s been tough, because others on set already know Colin’s story,” he said in 2021.

After the shooting of the third season and before the intense promotional period that precedes big Netflix premieres, the actor returned to the theater. Five years after the last time he was on stage, he made his comeback with Neil LaBute’s romantic drama The Shape of Things. The experience proved antithetical to starring in a multimillion-dollar series. Thanks to it, he was able, as he told The Standard, “to interact with people, that’s what I like most about theater, because in recent years, everything has been comments, direct messages and online things.”

Today, his name is getting attention, and fans don’t hesitate to approach him on the street: “When I’m around with my friends they often tell me, ‘That person over there recognized you’ […] It’s interesting because when they recognize me, they always call me by my character’s name. They ask, ‘Are you Colin Bridgerton?’” It’s when they began to call him by his real name that he realized that his fame was growing. “Someone asked one time if I was Luke Newton and it blew my mind. They actually know me, not my character or my work. Me!” Now, his challenge is not only to survive fame, but also Netflix.

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