The high-society ton seems to be just about as far as you can get from the murky, monstrous haze of the Upside Down — Demogorgons and diamond tiaras just don’t really mix. But one blushing debutante nearly escaped the confines of courting season for a much different adventure. After spilling all the tea in the ton, Nicola Coughlan spilled a bit of her own shortly after Bridgerton Season 2 dropped. Turns out, Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan auditioned for the Stranger Things role of Robin Buckley just before landing her part in the Regency-era Netflix hit.
Coughlan revealed the interesting casting tidbit in an April 8 interview with BuzzFeed. “I auditioned to play Robin, Maya Hawke got it,” Coughlan said, referring to Hawke’s character, who was introduced in Season 3 of Stranger Things. In case you need a refresher, Robin was Steve’s ice cream shop coworker in the third season. After growing closer with Steve as they investigated the supernatural conspiracies at Starcourt Mall, Robin came out as gay in one of the show’s most emotionally open scenes.
Though Coughlan was not chosen for the part, she said she now gets why Hawke was the right choice. “She was far better than I ever would have been,” Coughlan said. “It's a good lesson to actors: Watch the stuff you didn't get, because you'll totally understand how it's not personal. You're just right for some things, and you're not right for other things."
The thing that Coughlan is definitely right for is Penelope Featherington, the hyper-perceptive wallflower who moonlights as the must-read gossipmonger Lady Whistledown on Bridgerton. The royal drama’s recently released second season features Penelope’s hidden career more than ever, and even seemed to hint at her taking the spotlight next season.
Given the timing of the two releases (Stranger Things Season 3 released in summer 2019, about a year and a half before Bridgerton debuted in winter 2020), Coughlan may not have been able to take the role of Penelope if she got the part of Robin, especially given the stringent filming schedules for two of Netflix’s biggest shows. So honestly, getting rejected may have been a blessing in disguise for Coughlan and for all Bridgerton fans, because it gave us the perfect Lady Whistledown.