Fans of “Bridgerton” have been waiting for the wet shirt scene ever since the trailer.
Entertainment Weekly spoke to showrunner Chris Van Dusen about the scene and how it compares to Andrew Davies’ 1995 adaption of “Pride and Prejudice,” where Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy goes swimming in Pemberley Lake, only to stumble into Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) while still soaking wet.
‘Bridgerton’ Showrunner ‘Tested’ The White Shirt To Make Sure It Was ‘Clingy Enough’
As it turns out, a lot more work went into making that scene than fans might have expected. When talking about the original scene, Van Dusen said “there are some images that have been burned into my brain for a very long time.”
“And those naturally came out onto the page when I was writing the show,” he went on. “I’ve definitely talked about my love for that 1995 BBC adaptation with Colin Firth emerging from the lake in his white shirt. That scene of Anthony going in relates to that. It’s an Easter egg for fans of the genre.”
In the fifth episode of the Netflix period drama’s second season, Viscount Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) trips over Kate’s (Simone Ashley) pet Corgi named Newton. He trips, knocking both himself and Mr. Dorset (Sam Frenchum) into the lake. Although he falls in the lake with his full waistcoat on, he strips down to his shirt as he emerges from the lake, his wet shirt clinging to his chest.
“We tested that white shirt to make sure it was just the right amount of see-through and clingy enough,” Van Dusen revealed. “We worked really hard to make that moment magical and memorable.”
Jonathan Bailey Thought THAT ‘Bridgerton’ Moment Was ‘Absolutely Brilliant And Hilarious’
Jonathan Bailey revealed that he was excited to film the scene after he read about it in the script.
“I read it and I thought it was absolutely brilliant and hilarious,” he shared. “This is why the show is so brilliant, because it’s self-aware enough to be able to raid the romance genre. It’s tongue in cheek.”
Bailey revealed that they actually performed the fall in one take. Him climbing out of the lake was done in two takes, but only because the full Regency outfit was very heavy and difficult to remove when it was wet.
“The jacket was really heavy,” he recalled. “You can literally see that it’s really hard to get off my shoulder; it’s so heavy. It didn’t feel as sexy as it read on the page. But much like with everything in Bridgerton, the brilliant post team have done a really good job.”
However, interestingly enough, the shot where she and Edwina (Charithra Chandran) are staring at him emerging from the lake was filmed on an entirely different day!
“We weren’t actually looking at Jonny in the lake,” she admitted. “Sorry to spoil it for people! He was away doing something. We were pretending we were looking at him, and then, actually I missed him falling in the lake. I was off riding my horse filming another scene with the second unit. That whole scene is all movie magic and cut together.”
Charithra Chandran Said That Jonathan Bailey ‘Looked Beautiful Doing It’
As it turns out, falling takes some serious poise, and Chandran joked that Bailey “looked beautiful doing it.”
“Jonny Bailey for the win,” she said. “It must be pressure for Jonny because it’s such an obvious comparison. So, my heart went out to him. He’s the utter professional. He smashed it, and looked beautiful doing it.”
Bailey added that Chandran had actually finished filming for the day a few hours before the scene took place, but she stuck around on set specifically to watch him fall in the water. “There’s a lot of schadenfreude I think,” he joked.
Bailey explained that “I just was told to really launch into [actor Sam Frenchum], and that’s the way to sell the stunt so it looks natural. After all of that setup, if you did it and tripped and didn’t fall into the lake properly, it wouldn’t have worked.”
However, his interaction with Frenchum is what compelled Bailey to ask for a second take.
“I just remember feeling Sam’s body crunch into me because [the water] wasn’t very deep,” he recalled. “That was the main thing I was worried about. So, we did go back in to make sure that we got it properly, but it was all really quick. I was wearing this plastic sheet underneath me to keep me warm. And it was over within five minutes.”
Season 2 of “Bridgerton” is currently available to stream on Netflix.