Interview: Joanna Bobin On What’s Next For Lady Cowper

By Martha Davies

4 weeks ago

Bridgerton Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix


In the wisteria-purple dreamland of Bridgerton, Lady Cowper’s cold cunning is difficult to ignore. But is there more to her than meets the eye? We sat down with Joanna Bobin, the actress who plays her, to find out more.

Joanna Bobin wearing a brown turtleneck sweater

Interview: Joanna Bobin

Hi Joanna, how’s life going at the moment? 

Really well thank you! I just got back from the second Bridgerton premiere – why have one when you can have two! – so I’m settling back into reality again.  

You can currently be seen in Bridgerton as Lady Cowper – what can we expect from Lady Cowper in Chapter 2? 

Some very interesting storylines! The lovely thing is that in this chapter the audience  gets to see a real insight into the Cowper life – the house, the family dynamic and why Cressida and Lady Cowper are how they are within the Ton. 

How would you describe her? 

She is smart, focused, driven, fashionable, witty and not afraid to go out on a limb to get her daughter married! 

What is it like playing her? 

The best fun! Playing characters who are multi-layered, occasionally Machiavellian and so well-dressed is never going to be terrible!  

How do you get into character? 

As an actor you always start with the script, and for Bridgerton we have always been so lucky to have such excellent scripts to work with – first with Chris Van Dusen, our first showrunner, and now with Jess Brownell. Costume, wigs, make up and set all help, too, as does your dynamic with your other actors. Then it’s just a matter of  keeping your eyes and ears open in the real world to see where you can find inspiration. There’s nothing more fascinating than people watching! 

What do you hope to see in Lady Cowper’s future? 

I’d like her to find peace in her life – we see in this season she is struggling with her  relationship with a bullying husband and also to get her daughter successfully married, so to find a place where she can somehow reconcile these things in her life would be wonderful! Finding herself at the top of the Ton at the same time wouldn’t hurt also…! 

What is your favourite outfit you’ve gotten to wear on set? 

I’ve been so incredibly lucky to wear so many amazing pieces over the three seasons. But I  think my absolute stand out would have to be the coat I wear when Cressida and I arrive at the Mondrich’s ball in Episode 6. That coat was made by one of the incredible costume team, Mel, and I nearly cried in my first fitting. The sequins, the collar, the fabric and the weight of it… it was a total dream to wear and really made that moment so easy to play.

Any standout moments from rehearsals or filming? 

Gosh, so many. It was incredible when my husband and daughter got to come to set and my daughter (who is seven) got to sit on Queen Charlotte’s throne! She and Golda are good pals, it’s very sweet. That’s a moment she won’t forget!  

During filming, the first time us Cowpers got to see the Cowper house this season was something I’ll never forget, either. For two seasons we were homeless! We just visited other family houses and coffee shops and garden parties. So to have our very own home and to see the  incredible design that had gone into it was such a moving moment for us all. We were finally home! 

What is the cast dynamic? 

Well for those of us who have been lucky enough to be on the show since day one – that’s five years of working together – it’s truly become a family. Everyone is so supportive of each  other across the board. But we also love it when we get fresh blood on the show to shake things up a bit! 

Who is your favourite person to film with? 

I work mostly with Jessica Madsen who plays Cressida, so we have such a special  relationship and I love working with her. I have also become really good friends with Polly Walker and Ruth Gemmell (Lady Featherington and Lady Bridgerton), so when we do any  scenes together there’s always time for a good gossip! 

If you could be any Bridgerton sibling, who would it be? 

Probably Eloise. I love Claudia, who plays her, and the rebellious feminist spirit the character brings to the show.  

What has the series been like to be a part of? 

It’s honestly been a dream. Previously I’d dipped my toe into period drama, but to become a regular in something so ground-breaking as a period drama that is also so beloved by so many millions of people around the world is real a dream come true.  

Aside from Bridgerton, what has been your favourite project to date? 

I’ve been so lucky as my career has been so varied. I’ve loved all the comedy I’ve done, such as Not Going Out and Rev, but also the fun stuff like Secret Diary of a Call Girl. But  ultimately there is nothing like working on a film with actors I’ve always admired, so I’d  have to say Gunpowder Milkshake, in which I got to play scenes with Paul Giamatti, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which I play Nicholas Cage’s therapist! 

Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!) 

Nothing specific as yet, but I’d love to get back to the stage if I could. Also having done  period drama for five years, it’d be nice to slip off the corset and wig and do something contemporary on screen!

Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past? 

Paul Giamatti. Just to watch him work was a masterclass; ditto Nicholas Cage. Also Lindsay Duncan, who I worked with on Alice Through the Looking Glass, who is both brilliant and such a lovely person.  

 

What’s your dream role? 

I’d love to do anything at the National Theatre.  

Joanna Bobin wearing blue jeans and a lacy top

Do you get to spend much time at home? 

It depends. My work is so erratic it comes in fits and starts. When I’m working I tend to have fairly long stints away, but in between I’m lucky enough to get lots of family time which I love! 

Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer? 

We moved a couple of years ago from Shoreditch to the Cotswolds – a big change! It’s taken me a while to settle, as I still feel a Londoner at heart and I lived there for 26 years. But it’s been so wonderful for my daughter to live in such a beautiful environment, just over the  road from such a lovely little school and have the countryside and all the beauty of the Cotswolds right on the doorstep! Plus, both my husband and I need to be in London so much I do go up a lot to get my fix! 

What’s your interior design style? 

I love making my home beautiful and I do work at that – we had a lot to do when we first moved in but fortunately, as well as being a genius theatre director (he is the Artistic director of Papatango Theatre company), my husband is a bit of a dab hand at DIY, so we’ve really managed to turn our cottage and garden around. Since we’ve come into the country it’s allowed me to embrace cottagecore a bit more! I love old houses and vintage pieces but like to mix it up with modern pieces too. 

How do you find balance in your personal and work lives? 

It can be hard at times, but I do think it’s so important to make space for family time wherever I can – hence why I take my daughter and husband with me to any work situations whenever I’m able to! But equally I don’t think it’s a bad thing for my daughter to watch Mummy  going out to work at something she loves.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? 

I was lucky enough to work as an actor as a child, so it’s always been there for me as an idea. My father was a journalist and broadcaster, so being in front of a camera always felt very normal.  

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?  

To worry less! Focus on who I am more and worry less about fitting in. 

How can we all live a little bit better? 

Put down your phone and look up. Be present. Listen. Be kind.  

Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally? 

I think the most fun thing right now is booking a holiday and looking forward to that! We  have been so busy – me with Bridgerton, my husband opening his Papatango show at the Arcola theatre (and Bristol Old Vic) – that we genuinely haven’t had a proper conversation  in weeks! So a holiday with nothing to do (and no phones) would be wonderful!  

Joanna Bobin Recommends…

I’m currently watching… Feud. The latest one is the Truman Capote one, which has some of my favourite female actors (plus Tom Holllander) so you can’t go wrong. Then I went back and watched the first season, with Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, which I was totally gripped by. All actors at the top of their game. A total joy!

What I’m reading… Butter by Asako Yuzuki, In Memoriam by Alice Winn, and Doppelgänger by Naomi Klein.

The last thing I watched (and loved) was…  Past Lives and The Holdovers 

What I’m most looking forward to seeing…  People Places and Things at the National Theatre 

Favourite film of all time…  The Apartment  

Favourite song of all time… All Things Must Pass by George Harrison 

Band/singer I always have on repeat…  Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Nillson, Carole King and George Harrison. (And Taylor Swift for my daughter!) 

My ultimate cultural recommendation…  Go to the theatre! It’s really suffering right now post-lockdown. Tickets sales are the lowest  ever and if we don’t use our theatres they will vanish. You don’t have to go only to the theatres with £100 seats either – we are so blessed in this country to have theatres of all  shapes and sizes with something for everyone, so go and support! 

Cultural guilty pleasure…  I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. Don’t have guilt – enjoy what you enjoy and be proud!

WATCH

Joanna Bobin stars as Lady Cowper in Bridgerton. All episodes are streaming now on Netflix. netflix.com