Warning: Sexy spoilers ahead for Netflix's Bridgerton season 1.
“Do I have a favourite sex scene?,” Bridgerton star Phoebe Dynevor asked Refinery29 over the phone, sounding exactly as posh as her breakout character, Daphne Bridgerton. Daphne would be appalled by the question (if privately titillated). Dynevor just laughs.
“That’s hilarious,” she mused. “My first ever scene [on-set] was in the library, when Simon’s going down on Daphne. And that was mine and Regé-Jean Page’s first ever scene together. So the library scene is a memorable one for me.”
The romp in question appears in Bridgerton’s sixth episode, “Swish” (filming began with the series premiere and “Swish”). It’s part of a horny as hell montage that unveils the liberated sex life of newlyweds Daphne and Duke Simon Hastings (Page), who now have a remote manor all to themselves. The pair get to know each other biblically in bed, on the grounds of their estate, in the rain, and, finally, in their library — all to a strings-only version of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” In the library, Simon joyfully pleasures Daphne, who is seated on a ladder amid the stacks, until she decides she wants to finish in a “marital embrace,” as they would say in Regency England, with her husband. Simon is more than happy to vigorously oblige.
Kicking off production with such an intense, and intimate, moment might feel like an obstacle for certain performers. But that's not the case for Dynevor, who had a multitude of sex scenes to film as she brought to life the sexual awakening of Daphne Brigderton — and it’s all thanks to the weeks of behind the scenes manoeuvres viewers didn’t see.
“We had so much rehearsal up until that point that it wasn’t like we were being thrown into the deep end. With things like that in the past, you’re dreading it,” Dynevor said of her passionate first scene. “Because you go into a room and you’ve never met the person and you’re just getting directed on the spot. This was entirely different.”
Dynevor and on-screen love interest Regé-Jean Page spent six weeks rehearsing the dance sequences and dance sequences — if you get the drift — that populate Bridgerton. “We were actually staying at the same hotel, which was quite funny. We got to see each other for breakfast in the morning then go off and meet at rehearsals,” Dynevor recalled. “We were both kind of nervous — didn’t really know what we were doing. So we had each other to lean on. I think that was really helpful in getting the chemistry.”
By the time Dynevor and Page ended up on set, their “connection,” as the former said, was solidified. It’s impossible not to recognise their ease in episodes like “The Duke and I,” which ends with new bride Daphne’s first time having sex, and even in “Ocean’s Apart,” which finds Daphne and Simon’s relationship at its most frayed. Still, in “Apart,” the couple cannot deny their sexual chemistry, falling into yet another display of oral pleasure for Daphne, this time on an elaborate marble staircase.
“All of the intimacy scenes are a massive stunt. They take at least half a day to shoot. Even longer for the scene at the end of episode five, which is an argument that turns into sex,” Dynevor said, referring to Daphne’s very explicit, streamy wedding night. That sequence took two entire days to film. “They’re intense scenes. They’re very choreographed and they take a while — a lot of angles and it’s kind of exhausting as well. You don’t realise how exhausting they are,” Dynevor continued. “It’s quite a challenge to shoot those, but we felt so safe.”
Dynevor chalks that feeling of safety up to Bridgerton’s status as a Shondaland series — “I just knew that the nudity wasn’t going to be for gratuity’s sake” — and the drama’s intimacy coordinator, Lizzy Talbot. “I can’t really believe in some ways that this is a new thing — having an intimacy coordinator. Because it just feels like there’s no other possible way to do it at this point,” Dynevor said.
Talbot helped Dynevor and Page manage traditional sex scene mechanics like the ins and outs of a hookup along with the extremely Bridgerton-specific quirk of Simon constantly using the pull-out method, unbeknownst to Daphne, to keep pregnancy at bay. Poor Daphne has to witness Simon’s confusing behaviour while learning what sex is in the first place.
“The thing about the sex that we really wanted to get right was showing that Daphne has no idea idea what she’s doing,” Dynevor began. “But also she very much wants it. So Simon obviously has to be in control — but she’s also very willing and able
“Then by the last episode, she’s leading the way. It was quite fun.”