Why Bridgerton's Nicola Coughlan Was So Scared Of Being Fired From The Hit Show

Before Nicola Coughlan was cast on "Bridgerton," one of Netflix's most-watched series ever, she told The New York Times she worked "awful" part-time jobs in her hometown of Galway, Ireland. The streaming star worked at a local optical shop for almost an entire year before her acting career took off. Breaking onto the acting scene, Coughlan put notable roles on her resume such as Hannah Dalton in "Harlots" and Clare Devlin in "Derry Girls," per People. But since the December 2020 release of "Bridgerton," on which she portrays the sweet but sneaky Penelope Featherington, who lives a double-life as the anonymous town gossip writer, Lady Whistledown, Coughlan became an international star as one of the drama series' core leads.

As Fortune reports, the first episode of "Bridgerton" Season 1 had 82 million viewers tune in within four weeks after its release. Now with the highly-anticipated premiere of "Bridgerton" Season 2 set to air on March 25, Coughlan is opening up about some personal fears that came with the show's immense popularity. As the smash hit series continued to gain attention, Coughlan reportedly worried her inexperience in the acting world wasn't enough to keep her role — although her talent undoubtedly proved otherwise.

Nicola Coughlan feared being replaced

Actor Nicola Coughlan had to overcome a lot of let downs before landing her role as Penelope Featherington in Netflix's roaring hit "Bridgerton." The New York Times reports that she didn't get the attention of casting managers right away. "It was like, 'Oh, the dream died,'" she recalled. But things changed when Coughlan landed a talent agent in 2016. She was then cast for her first major role as the highly ambitious teenager, Clare Devlin, in "Derry Girls." After filming for the British teen comedy ended, Coughlan worried success wouldn't happen again and didn't get her hopes up when "Bridgerton" producers reached out to her agent.

After Coughlan was asked to audition, "Bridgerton" showrunner Chris Van Dusen knew she was the perfect fit for Penelope. Although she was never fired from her role, Coughlan feared at first everything was too good to be true. Shortly after learning she got the role, Coughlan told the New York Times she worried about being replaced by someone with a bigger name. "I should have been like, 'This is amazing,'" she shared. "Instead, I was like, 'This is fishy. I don't know about this.'" 

In spite of her fears, Coughlan has made her "Bridgerton" character a sensation. The star shared her amazement at the show's success to BBC Radio 2 host Claudia Winkleman in February 2022. "It's absolutely bonkers how many people sort of fell in love with [the series]," she said, via Independent.ie. "It's amazing."