Julie Anne Robinson interview: ‘Bridgerton’ director
“I worked with an intimacy coordinator for the first time in my career,” reveals DGA Award-nominated director Julie Anne Robinson about the meticulous planning required to shoot the steamy sex scenes on Netflix phenomenon “Bridgerton,” including working with Lizzy Talbot, who describes herself as a stunt coordinator for sex scenes.
“We plan it all out in advance. How much visually we would be seeing, how the clothes would come off, what protection was going to be put in place so that the actors didn’t feel too vulnerable,” Robinson explains. “That way, you get a stronger performance,” she says.
We talked with Robinson as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the BTL Experts” Q&A event with key 2021 guild and Emmy contenders. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Bridgerton” takes place during the high society days of 1813 in Regency-era London, when debutantes like Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) are presented at court, thereby entering the ruthless marriage market. As the season progresses, The show was created by frequent Shondaland collaborator Chris Van Dusen, based on Julia Quinn’s series of novels (each of which focuses on one of the eight eponymous siblings), with season 1 focused on the first book in the series, “The Duke and I,” in which Daphne becomes smitten with the Duke of Hastings Simon Bassett (Regé-Jean Page), they eventually marry, but there’s soon trouble in paradise when Daphne finds out her new husband is keeping a secret from her.
The series boldly re-imagines the period drama by boasting a contemporary sensibility, capturing the characters’ spirit and lust for life for a contemporary audience. The show’s large and diverse ensemble features Adjoa Andoh, Jonathan Bailey, Ruby Barker, Luke Newton and Golda Rosheuvel, with Dame Julie Andrews providing the voice of the show’s narrator Lady Whistledown. After premiering last Christmas to strong reviews, its addictive mix of compelling storytelling and eye candy set social media on fire, leading to it becoming one of the biggest series launches ever for Netflix, watched by a whopping record of 82 million households around the world.
The show succeeds most of all because it re-imagines the period drama for a new audience, avoiding some of the trappings viewers may have come to expect from Masterpiece Theatre and Merchant Ivory productions of years gone by.
“I love period dramas, but I try not to think too much about the history,” Robinson admits. “I want it to feel unique, not like your traditional period drama. The thing that was my guiding principle was the characters. The characters have got to sing out. There can be colorful costumes, beautiful houses, lots of horses, but the characters have got to speak to each other and sing out within that context, and that’s always my guiding principle as a director.”