The new star of Netflix hit Bridgerton, Charithra Chandran says that she is a massive fan of British period drama; in fact, she and her mum are ‘obsessed’ with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice.
Charithra is joining the Regency period drama Bridgerton for season two, playing Edwina Sharma, who along with her sister Kate (Simone Ashley), are likely to set male races pulsing on the global hit, which screened in 82 million households in its debut month.
The Oxford-raised and Oxford University-educated Charithra told the Daily Telegraph: “My mum and I will literally watch Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, like, once every two months. We are obsessed with it.”
This is great because her divorced parents, who are both doctors, were less than thrilled with her choice of occupation — in the precarious world of acting.
“In our family, we don’t have anyone in this field,” she said. “And they worked bloody hard to make a life for themselves as immigrants in this country and all they want for their daughter is stability. There are so many wonderful things about this career, but stability is not one of them. So they were really scared.
“They are happy that I’m happy, but I can’t say that they’re happy that I chose this path to begin with.”
Bridgerton has been a sensation for its seemingly unconscious way it mixes ethnic minority cast in the traditionally very white world of British period drama and Charithra loves this about the program, created by famed US producer Shonda Rhimes.
“I think that Bridgerton has done for TV what Hamilton did for theatre,” she said. “It encouraged a totally different audience to watch period drama and romances. And it made us feel seen on screen.’
Now she adds, ‘it would be very hard to have a period drama now that isn’t diverse.
“I’ve always wondered how we can accept aliens and superheroes, but, you know, it’s a struggle to accept a brown or black princess? Is that where you draw the line? Maybe a mermaid is OK… So I think as a society, we’ve just become more creative.”
As for her character, Charithra feels she is more in tune with the feisty nature of her sister Kate than demure Edwina, but she relishes the opportunity.
“I’m probably naturally more like Kate than I am Edwina, she said. “But I think there is something really profound about presenting different types of strength. I think it’s a real injustice in our society to undervalue certain qualities like kindness, empathy and optimism. And, actually, I think it takes bloody courage to be optimistic.”
She added that the sisters are ‘soulmates’: “You know, we focus on romantic love so much, but actually these two women, there’s no one more important to them. And I think Simone and I worked really hard to bring that to the screen.”
Watch Bridgerton season 2 on Netflix from Friday, Mar 25.