LONDON — Jonathan Bailey has been thinking about Tupperware a lot. Not necessarily around the ability to hold food, although lately it does function He has served the actor well as he has moved from production to production, but more than that he is making the various elements of his life feel like small, slightly misshapen boxes.
“It’s not the most comfortable thing to split up like this, especially coming out of a pandemic,” Bailey, 33, said in a recent interview. But to survive, he said, it has become necessary.
This need has arisen when Belly Fast becomes one of the breakout stars of Netflix’s hugely popular romantic period drama “Bridgeton.” The show mixes mildly subversive traits—the female characters have intellectual conversation and orgasm, and its cast consists of people of color—with fiery love affairs. The recently released second season focuses on Bailey’s Anthony Bridgerton as he searches for a wife, and then meets his match in Kate (played by Simone Ashley). Netflix says it’s broken view recordsAnd Anthony Bridgerton’s fan pages are now all over the internet.
However, Bailey isn’t based on his sudden acceleration of fame. Instead, he’s following the advice he was given when he was 23, told by theater director Nicholas Heitner: Always keep working. Currently, that means putting himself at the mercy of London West End audiences almost every night of the week: he’s starring in “Cock”, a Mike Bartlett sexual orientation through the story of a doomed romance between two men. and discovers identities – one of whom falls in love with a woman.
In recent weeks, Bailey was on stage most nights, promoting “Bridgeton” during the day. The stress of doing both “overpowers and cancels out each other,” he said.
Production of “Cock” has also been plagued with difficulties: Taron Egerton, the show’s billing second star, fainted on stage, contracted COVID-19, and then pulled out of production altogether, citing “personal reasons”. Went. Recently, Bailey’s other co-star Jade Anuka also tested positive for coronavirus, which means Bailey performing with two students.
Throughout it all, Bailey has stood firm. In a recent performance, he proceeded with the solid grace of a dancer and deftly handled a drunken heckler who took issue with a monologue about whether sexual orientation was genetic. After taking a beat, Bailey looked straight at the audience and delivered his front line like a heckler.
Bailey said of the incident, “It’s thrilling when the audience feels like they can actually react, because it means something animal is happening.”
Inside the world of ‘Bridgeton’
The Netflix series, which infuses period-drama escapism with modern-day sensibilities, is back with a second season.
The theater is Bailey’s acting home, and he partially attributes the “alchemy” of “Bridgeton” to several actors, including Edjoa Andoh, Luke Thompson, and Ruth Gemmel, who have backgrounds in theatre.
Growing up in Wallingford, an affluent city between London and Oxford, Bailey described himself as a “creative and expressive child”, passionate about ballet and knew how to become an actor from an early age. wants.
When he was 8 years old, he was cast in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of “A Christmas Carol”, scouted in a local drama class. From there, Bailey had what he described as a “slow career”: by 15, he appeared in his first major feature film, “Five Children and It,” and was signed to an agency. At the age of 23, he performed in “Othello” at London’s National Theatre, and finally thought he could go into acting. And by 25, he was making a name for himself in Britain as a lead in the hit crime show “Broadchurch”.
Bailey’s director Marianne Elliott in “Cock” described her as a courageous performer. “He’s the best person you can ever hope to meet,” she said. “But when he acts, he can have an edge, which can feel dangerous in a wonderful way. An unpredictability.” The pair first collaborated on a gender-swapped production of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.” Worked together, which won Bailey the Olivier Award in 2019.
Sondheim, Elliot said, was obsessed with Bailey. Three days before his death last year, Elliot told Sondheim that Bailey would star in “Cock.” Sondheim “literally stopped in his tracks, closed his eyes, put his hand on his chest and said, ‘Still be my beating heart,'” Elliot said.
In person, Bailey was charmingly honest. Sitting in the stately elegance of a central London hotel and comfortably dressed in shorts, a gray T-shirt and a casual jacket, his demeanor was far softer than the smoldering, quiet fury that sparked the discovery of Anthony Bridgerton’s wife. was defining.
“It was only doing Season 2 that I realized what was really needed”, Bailey said. “In the Tupperware sense, you really have to tuck that into the big Tupperware box.”
The young male actors who play Anthony’s brothers could lead their own “Bridgeton” seasons in the future, and so Bailey wrote them a guide called “How to Survive Falling in Love in Front of 82 Million Families”. Maybe, he said over email. It’s designed to help them “maintain a sense of sanity and balance” on set, he said, and covers the practicality of working with the crew if and when they felt things weren’t going smoothly. If so, talk to them.
When asked if he sees himself as a mentor, Bailey shied away. “Whoever the Bridgerton brothers are, I’m in talks that will hopefully make them feel more solid and ready,” he said, still sounding like a mentor.
Nicky van Gelder, who has been Bailey’s agent since the age of 15, laughed when told of this frugality. Bailey, she said, is “generous toward other actors,” and is a particularly important role model for some of the less established actors on her books, Van Gelder said, not one to hide her sexuality. “I think that would have definitely helped young actors who are not sure” about coming out in public, she said. “I’ve got some young actors with whom I’ve discussed it. They said, ‘Johnny is out, is it okay?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.'”
In his Olivier acceptance speech, Bailey spoke passionately about the importance of LGBT representation. “If I can fill in the places I didn’t grow up with, I think that’s a really great thing,” he said.
After his work on “Bridgeton” and “Cock”, Bailey said he is “excited now to think about my next projects, and how I can step into different versions of my understanding of representation.”
Overall, he tries to have a “brisk trend,” he said, when it comes to choosing jobs. He worked on early shows created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Michaela Koel, and prioritizes working with people he holds “in high esteem, who are thrilling and exciting,” he said. “And more often than not, they’ll make sure it’s a diverse cast.”
And that variety is key to Bailey. “If you are an innately out-of-society person – I can’t speak explicitly on race, but in terms of sexuality and queerness – you have access to empathy,” he said. “And what comes with empathy is playfulness, because then you can see where the other person is coming from, and you can feel safe finding the joy within them.”
“I’ll playful,” he said.