The Untold Truth Of Bridgerton Star Jonathan Bailey

Regé-Jean Page may have bagged roles in the reboots of "The Saint" and "Dungeons and Dragons" — and if rumors are believed to be in the running for the next James Bond. But he's not the only British actor to have achieved international success virtually overnight thanks to a lavish period piece created by powerhouse showrunner Shonda Rhimes.

Yes, Jonathan Bailey, who plays the eldest son of the Bridgerton clan and heir to its estate, Anthony, has also found himself the center of attention across the globe since Netflix original "Bridgerton" became the binge-watch of choice over the Christmas 2020 period.

Of course, Bailey has been a fixture of the small screen in his homeland for the past decade, appearing in everything from noirish crime drama "Broadchurch" to the BBC's long-running sci-fi phenomenon "Doctor Who." But what else do we know about the latest man to get costume drama fans hot under the collar?

Jonathan Bailey doesn't come from a showbiz background

Unlike seemingly every other British actor who achieves success outside their homeland, Jonathan Bailey doesn't come from a showbiz tradition (see Toby StephensMax Irons), nor did he attend public school with royals and future world leaders (see Eddie Redmayne, Dominic West). As the star said in a 2012 interview with Last Minute Theatre Tickets, he lived a "typical village life" in Oxfordshire. It sounds pretty idyllic, but not particularly great for networking with the rich and famous.

In that same interview, the "Bridgerton" favorite revealed that he still benefited hugely from experiencing his childhood there. "I went to the local C of E Primary School, and grew up with my three sisters, Mum and Dad," he said. "It was good that you could just have friends in walking distance at that sort of age and basically just make mud pies in the street."

Bailey didn't even attend drama school when he realized that acting was the gig for him, instead choosing to study for a degree with the Open University, an academic institution in which most pupils learn off-campus. It's not a decision he regrets, though, telling Last Minute Theatre Tickets that there isn't "a right or wrong way of becoming an actor." Rather, whatever works, works. "I learnt quite a lot on the job and was able to take risks when playing parts," he said. "So yeah I didn't go to drama school but everything worked out okay."

Oliver! inspired Jonathan Bailey's career

Everyone who has lusted after "Bridgerton" star Jonathan Bailey in full sideburns and breeches mode has a beloved family member and a beloved musical to thank for putting him on the path to stardom. As he shared in a joint The Guardian interview he did with Broadway legend Patti LuPone, it was his grandmother's "dressing-up box" as well as a local production of "Oliver!" that helped the future Viscount Anthony realize the power of performing arts and transformation. 

As he said in The Guardian, after going to see Oliver! at the age of six, his future plans were set. "I said to my parents: I'm going to do that!" he recalled. Proving to be a kid of his word, he was in the Barbican Centre's production of "A Christmas Carol" shortly thereafter. And by the age of nine he'd landed his first screen credit. In a sign of things to come, Bailey guested as William Kilshaw in a 1997 episode of "Bramwell," a lavish period drama set in the 19th century.

Teachers are 'modern-day heroes' to Jonathan Bailey

It's one of the most-asked questions for anyone who forges a career in showbiz: What would you be if you weren't an actor/singer/professional finger snapper? Jonathan Bailey's answer in a 2021 interview with Harper's Bazaar wasn't particularly unique, but his explanation no doubt converted everyone in the profession to full-blown stans.

"If I wasn't an actor, I think I'd love to be a primary school teacher," he said. "I mean, I think all teachers are basically modern-day heroes." Just when you thought his response couldn't be more heartwarming, he went on to open up about how much he cherishes any chance he gets to see his niece in her school plays. "Watching the next generation of Baileys grow up, you just realise how informative those years are and I think being a part of that is pretty special," he said.

This wasn't the first time that Bailey had expressed his admiration for those who educate. During another interview to promote "Bridgerton," this time with Shondaland in December 2020, the actor was asked which figure had influenced him the most. Bailey replied, "I had a couple of incredible teachers who pushed me to think outside of the box."

Jonathan Bailey hopes to be an inspiration for the LGBTQ community

"I'd say I'm not openly gay, I'm just gay," Jonathan Bailey told Evening Standard in 2021 when the issue of his personal life came up. The "Crashing" star has always been pretty transparent about the matter; he proudly kissed his boyfriend while accepting his Olivier Award, for example. And while promoting "Bridgerton," the period drama in which he plays a heterosexual Viscount, he was more than happy to discuss his sexuality further.

Indeed, Bailey saw his newfound international profile as an opportunity to give hope to those within the LGBTQ community who may be struggling with acceptance. As he said in the Evening Standard, "I knew that I wanted to be visible about my sexuality, because in all the territories that Netflix goes out in, there might be a boy somewhere that goes, 'Wait, what?' Which is what I didn't have when I was young."

Although Bailey admitted that he's conscious about turning the issue into a "commodity and a currency," he also recognized that he had a responsibility to make a difference: "All I know is that I'm happy to keep working really hard and if there are opportunities for representation, and to make that point, then that's something I'll always strive to do."

Jonathan Bailey is an award-winning stage star

Jonathan Bailey proved once and for all that you don't need a drama school education to become a star of the stage when he was recognized at one of the most prestigious award shows in the theater world. Indeed, at the 2019 Laurence Oliviers, his performance as Jamie in the West End revival of "Company" was deemed worthy of Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

Bailey had been a stage fixture for several years by this point, too. In 2003 he played King John in the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptation of "King Lear." And "American Psycho," "The Last Five Years" and "Beautiful Thing" are just a few of the hit productions that the star showcased his talents in throughout the following decade.

But it was his performance as Tiny Tim in "A Christmas Carol" at the age of just eight that left the biggest impression on Bailey. Speaking to Patti LuPone for a 2021 interview with The Guardian, Bailey waxed nostalgic about smelling things like "dry ice, makeup, sweat, the detergent they used to clean the costumes" during the production, as well as how much he looked up to the other actors. "I just thought: these are the most extraordinary people I'm ever going to meet," he said. "I still watch actors perform and don't understand where their performance has come from. That awe has never left me." Aww.

Jonathan Bailey has mixed feelings about straight actors playing gay

In a 2018 interview with Attitude, Jonathan Bailey expressed disappointment that Disney had cast straight actor Jack Whitehall as the Mouse House's first openly gay character, McGregor, in "The Jungle Cruise" (ultimately, the "openly gay" aspect was buried deeper than the film's mythical treasure). He said, "It's hard. Actors should be able to play everything, that is the main joy of acting, exploring other experiences. However, I think Disney missed an opportunity to make a statement of inclusivity to say, 'Our first openly gay role is played by an openly gay actor,' especially with their target audience."

Speaking to Evening Standard three years later, Bailey appeared just as conflicted about the issue of straight actors taking on gay parts. Remarking how important it for actors to have a "balance of access to roles," he said, "There just aren't that many gay roles, so when straight actors go to take that space up, it's eliminating the chance for other [gay actors]."

The "W1A" star did acknowledge there are plenty of examples where straight actors have delivered superb portrayals of gay characters and vice versa. "Bridgerton" fans would no doubt argue that his performance as Viscount Anthony falls into the latter, and Bailey remains grateful that his return to the period drama genre has been greeted with such a positive response. "Bearing in mind the internet is a place where anyone can say anything, there hasn't been anyone who's had any animosity, or challenged it, so that's good," he told Evening Standard. Every actor should be so lucky.

A different Bridgerton part could've gone to Jonathan Bailey

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Regé-Jean Page playing Simon Bassett in Netflix's bingeable hit "Bridgerton." But one of the other period drama's main players was initially intending to play the dashing Duke of Hastings before recognizing his talents were better suited elsewhere.

As he shared with Decider, during his Olivier Award-winning run in "Company," Jonathan Bailey was given a script for the Shonda Rhimes show and a chance to try out for the ensemble. While he initially found himself drawn to the character of Simon, the higher-ups gave him some more scripts and suggested he consider Anthony instead. "I just devoured them, suddenly seeing it through Anthony's eyes," he recalled. Suffice to say, it clicked.

"And then, of course, I got really invested in the character,"  he told Vogue. "In this world that's so lavish and sexy, Anthony's a bit complicated, a bit odd — quite off center, really." Hey, things happen for a reason, and we're sure glad Bailey ended up as Anthony.

Jonathan Bailey has no problem with sex scenes

If you see Jonathan Bailey's name in a show's credits, it's pretty likely you'll get at least some form of nudity. But his most flesh-baring role came with the role of Anthony in Netflix's costume drama "Bridgerton." Luckily, the Brit doesn't appear to have any problem with the idea of sex scenes. In fact, he not only actively encourages it, but wants it to be, as he said in a 2020 chat with Collider, "given the space to be explored."

While opening up to the outlet about the various intimate encounters that his character has with Sabrina Bartlett's opera singer Sienna, Bailey said, "Sex is so much part of humanity and the idea that in period dramas that we've seen and loved before, we're lucky if we get a kiss 10 minutes before the end. Let's unbutton the corsets and see what's really going on, I say." However, Bailey, who alongside Bartlett was advised by an intimacy coordinator, did acknowledge how strange it was that a certain part of his anatomy always appears to be on show: "For some reason my bum always comes out and it's not always written in the script." 

Speaking with Cosmopolitan that same year, he got into how vital it has been to have an intimacy coordinator on the "Bridgerton" set, noting that "there's now a safety and there's an understanding you can tell a story through sex."

Monogamy suits Jonathan Bailey

Jonathan Bailey won an Olivier Award for playing a man who gets cold feet about his same-sex marriage. But what does he feel about the prospect of walking down the aisle in real life? Well, as he told Attitude in 2020, the Brit isn't entirely averse to the idea: "I wouldn't need the validation of a marriage to feel secure in a relationship — but having said that, it's probably something I'd love to do, yeah."

The "Hooten and the Lady" actor admitted to Attitude that he was once intrigued about the idea of an open relationship but that he soon realized that monogamy was for him. And his award-winning stint in "Company" helped him come to this conclusion and better understand his own priorities. He remarked, "I one hundred per cent believe in a long-term committed monogamous relationship, that's completely my world view."

However, Bailey still sees it as a positive thing that the concept of relationships is constantly evolving, noting that sex can be "a sport" for some, "a divine sanctity between two people" for others — and those two perspectives are not incompatible. "I don't think one person can threaten another by their choices," he said. 

Jonathan Bailey had a weird first crush

Crushing on a cartoon creation isn't as strange as you might think. After all, Cosmopolitan once ran a feature titled "Wait...These Animated Characters Are Legitimately Hot!" But you still wouldn't expect the star of Netflix's biggest costume drama to make such an admission.

But when asked about his first crush by Harper's Bazaar in 2021, Jonathan Bailey did indeed reveal that he once had the hots for a hand-drawn Disney favorite, "The Little Mermaid" love interest. And it sounds like he still hasn't got over it, either. "With the big blue eyes, and just, the whole idea of wanting to be onshore with Prince Eric is pretty damn dreamy," the actor gushed. No doubt he'll be taking a keen interest in the live-action adaptation of the 1989 classic. 

The "Jack Ryan" star also has a rather tub-ular idea of what constitutes pure romance: "Running a bath. Then sitting with you while you have your bath and you know having a chat I think is pretty mega. Putting the toilet seat down and sort of just being there while you bathe." Bailey appears to enjoy the simpler things in life when it comes to the ideal date, too, sharing that he enjoys "going on a little adventure, getting a pint." Doesn't sound bath, er, bad to us. 

The specific pre-show rituals Jonathan Bailey developed

We all have our things that we're especially particular about, be it loading up the dishwasher the right way, making sure the volume level on the TV stays at an even number, or ensuring all of the spice jar labels are facing the same direction. As he said in Attitude ahead of his triumphant run in "Company" in 2018, Jonathan Bailey's got his own list of "really OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] stuff" that "get weirder" as the show goes on. 

The star told the outlet that he had to go through several rituals before taking to the stage. His checklist included saying a Hail Mary, flicking his watch a set number of times, during one particular production, he would "take half a paracetamol before every entrance." Bailey believes such anxious behavior stems from the time he witnessed someone else not metaphorically breaking a leg in a show but literally breaking an arm during a "Les Misérables" rehearsal in the late '90s. "[Another actor's] sash got caught somehow, and he fell from the top of the makeshift barricade and broke his arm," he said. "Maybe that's where the panic comes from."

Jonathan Bailey was warned not to come out

Jonathan Bailey's Olivier Award victory, roles in mainstream fare such as "Doctor Who" and "Bridgerton," and general pin-up status has proved that an openly gay actor can still achieve the same kind of success as a straight counterpart. But during his rise to fame, the Brit was warned by several professionals not to reveal his sexuality — many of whom were gay themselves.

Yes, in a joint interview with Ian McKellen, another openly gay but much older actor, for Attitude magazine, Bailey revealed that he'd been told to stay in the closet by various casting directors and publicity professionals. He shared, "The most conservative conversations I've had about me being honest about my sexuality in this day and age have come from gay men in the industry, 'Oh, no, you can't come out. You shouldn't really do that. If you do that, you're going to have to...'"

Bailey now believes that there's been a generational shift since then, but that this can also be something of a double-edged sword. "You get a script sent through and they'll say, 'Must be comfortable with talking about sexuality,'" he explained, noting that while it's great that movies and TV shows aren't forcibly sweeping sexuality under the rug, it's "becoming a commodity" as tokenism remains an issue. "That actually there needs to be this sense that studios are hiring gay actors to play either gay actors or straight," he said.

Now, about Jonathan Bailey's sideburns

Forget about the mystery heir to the Featheringtons' estate or the secret identity of Lady Whistledown. The biggest question many had while watching the first series of Shonda Rhimes' latest smash "Bridgerton" was... are Jonathan Bailey's sideburns real?

In fact, it was the first thing that Vogue asked in their 2021 interview of the Brit, who plays the noticeably hirsute Viscount Anthony in the costume drama. And the reply? "Yes, they were indeed real. I wish I could say that I preserved them — stuffed them into a tiny little pincushion or something." Yep, a pincushion of all things... so he could ostensibly poke his shorn mutton chops with needles for years on end? Hey, why not.

Bailey shared that he got "quite attached" to the patches of facial hair, and touched on their significance for his character. "Those mutton chops are all about proving your worth and status," he said. "It's like the Georgian equivalent of owning a Ferrari. Someone's compensating for something — and with Anthony, it's his inability to deal with his feelings in a healthy way."

The matter of great importance had also come up before a single episode had aired. In 2019, Bailey told GQ that audiences could look forward to seeing some "heavy-duty period drama mutton chops," and then admitted that he couldn't take sole credit for them. "Marc Pilcher — our amazing make-up designer — is in full control of my facial hair for the next six months," he said. "He shears me like a sheep." Okay, Jonathan Baaa-iley.

What's Jonathan Bailey's net worth?

Jonathan Bailey might have been a familiar face in his UK homeland for several years thanks to roles in "Broadchurch," "W1A" and "Crashing." But his level of fame skyrocketed when he landed the role of Viscount Anthony in a period drama that was instantly accessible to millions of people from all corners of the globe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the actor found the increased scrutiny a little difficult to deal with. "A brilliantly traumatic thing to experience" was how he described the post-"Bridgerton" months to Evening Standard in 2021. But we prefer his other definition, "a candyfloss juggernaut theme park ride — like multiple sensory overload." Although he's no stranger to the red carpet, Bailey said that he's far more interested in the job than all the attention that comes with it: "You work and strive to be an actor and you can get better at it and enjoy it. But you can't be good at fame or enjoy it. Some people do, some people don't. It's a different cocktail for everyone."

While being a celebrity may be a lot to take on, his bank account probably isn't complaining. According to Idol Net Worth, Bailey is reportedly worth $1.5 million. Talk about a Bridger-ton of cash.