“I think this will please the audience”

“I think this will please the audience”

“I think this will please the audience”

When most people think of Queen Charlotte, chances are they aren’t thinking of a young woman. Or even the current Queen Charlotte, the German wife of the mad King George III, who loved gardening and was good friends with Marie Antoinette.

They’re probably imagining Golda Rosheuvel in Bridgerton: imperiously announcing the “Diamond of the Season” to a breathless crowd of women in gorgeous gowns, before furiously asking why more of those women haven’t gotten married yet.

She’s a fashion icon, a master of the withering quip, who rules the ton with an iron fist (albeit in a silk glove).

However, in the upcoming Netflix show Queen Charlotte, it’s neither of those things. Instead, she is a seventeen-year-old girl, who arrives in England as the reluctant bride and mare of George III, and marries him by the end of the first episode.

This Charlotte is played by India Amarteifio and George (who appears in the original Bridgerton series as the senile old king) by Corey Mylchreest.

As a fan of the show, Amarteifio jumped at the chance to play the role of Charlotte and tell the story of her romance with George. “I was one of the audiences who wanted more… I knew there was more to Charlotte than what we saw,” he says, citing a scene in Bridgerton season 2 in which the old king escapes from his guardians and runs into in the queen, who is stunned and hurt to see the state she is in.

India Amarteifio as Young Charlotte (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

India Amarteifio as Young Charlotte (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

“It really hit me; it was very special. I knew there was something deeper and I was invested in it. And yes, I think this will please the audience.

“It felt like we had even more of a responsibility to tell the initial beauty of their love’s youth at the dawn of it, because it’s a very bright dawn, and by the end it’s a very cold and dark night,” adds Mylchreest. “And so it was even more important [to see] their light at the beginning”.

Written and developed by Shonda Rhimes, the show goes back and forth in time between young and old Charlotte. However, Amarteifio is clear on one thing: everyone (Rosheuvel, Rhimes and director Tom Verica) was clear that her interpretation of Charlotte should be hers, which she describes as “really beautiful to hear because [gave] all the leeway to create my own character.

“[I think] there are elements of our performances that are quite similar. And I think it’s because we know very well who Charlotte was in this world,” she says. “[That’s] also aided by the hair and makeup they made these molds of her birthmarks and then put them on my face to further highlight that we are playing the same person.

Getting into character wasn’t just about cravings, it was also about fashion. While young Charlotte wears simpler dresses in shades of pink or yellow, Rosheuvel’s Charlotte dresses in magnificent gowns and wigs, which took hours to put together.

“The costume and the wig are really integral to this character,” says Golda Rosheuvel. To portray the queen, Rosheuvel wore two corsets, a pannier, multiple skirts, several layers of jewels, and of course, her own wigs, which sometimes reached up to three feet tall.

“They dictate how he walks, how he stands, his posture, even the way he talks…and I know when I look in the mirror, it takes about two and a half hours total to get there…so yeah, when I look in the mirror and the final jewel is worn, it’s a feat.

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte, James Fleet as King George (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte, James Fleet as King George (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Much of Queen Charlotte’s storyline swings between the past and present – hence Rosheuvel’s appearance – which made for an interesting interplay between the world of the prequel series and Bridgerton.

“In Bridgerton, I obviously created a backstory for the character,” he says. “So I have an idea or an imagination of my children. I make sure that in every Bridgerton scene, I think about George at least once, so I have that connection, right? In Queen Charlotte, it was absolutely amazing to see 13 human beings play my children.”

Another plus for Rosheuvel was that Queen Charlotte was filmed consecutively with the third season of Bridgerton.

“It was really interesting going in and out of these two worlds, a world that was really intimate and personal, and about family and duty… into another world that was glitzy and glamorous and really vibrant and full of dancing and a hundreds of extras. “

Of course, Bridgerton wouldn’t be Bridgerton without its explicit sex scenes, and there’s no shortage of those here either – from steamy encounters between Charlotte and George to more comedic scenes with Arsema Thomas’ Lady Danbury.

As Queen Charlotte, Thomas plays a version of Lady Danbury we’re not used to seeing: Stuck in a loveless marriage, with children she barely sees, she holds almost no agency before Charlotte makes her part of the royal court.

One of the key indicators of that powerlessness lies in the way she is forced to sleep with her aging husband, played by Cyril Nri. It’s a far cry from the glamorous, passionate scenes the show is known for—and Thomas, a recent drama school graduate, says she was “afraid to do them” at first.

Arsema Thomas as Young Lady Danbury (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

Arsema Thomas as Young Lady Danbury (LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX)

“Lucy Fennell, our intimacy coordinator… broke up the scene to look more like a choreographed dance. You know, I put my hand there, then that’s when you put your hand here and then we kiss,” she says (Fennell also worked on scene coordination between Charlotte and George).

“I think what I was trying to portray most was this act of dissociation. You know, ‘I’ll just think about my shopping list.’ And I think that’s unfortunately the case for a lot of women even now, so it was really fun to show that kind of intimacy.

An even greater benefit for her was being able to endorse Shonda Rhimes’ vision of the past: a diverse, multicultural society living in relative harmony. As she says, it was transformative — and to get the chance to play Lady Danbury, it was empowering.

“When I was personally growing up, I never saw characters that looked like me in the lead, that were there to make a change,” she says. “I think it will allow girls who are growing up, 13, 14, 15 years old, who, you know, have never seen themselves in anything like this, to start thinking that it’s possible.

“The moment you see someone doing something a little different, you start thinking, ‘Okay, what else can we do, what else can you change?’ And I think having that chance is really exciting.

Queen Charlotte is out on Netflix from May 4th

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