Netflix’s most watched series has catapulted Nicola Coughlan to international fame – even Drew Barrymore now follows her
In the past year, Nicola Coughlan, 34, has gone from relative unknown straight to the red carpet without ever leaving Galway. The actress, who plays Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton, finished filming in February last year and immediately decamped to spend lockdown with her parents in Ireland. When Bridgerton aired at Christmas it became Netflix’s most watched series: 82 million households around the world watched, agog, as Coughlan’s character was revealed as the mysterious Lady Whistledown, the society chronicler at the heart of the drama. Meanwhile Coughlan was helping her mum with the cooking and cleaning, and the only thing that changed about her life was her Instagram following.
“I went from 200,000 followers to 1.2 million overnight, which is just ridiculous,” she says via Zoom from the London flat to which she’s only recently returned. “Drew Barrymore and Sarah Jessica Parker now follow me. That’s crazy! I’m posting a picture and I’m like, ‘What would Drew Barrymore think? Eighty-two million households is unfathomable, it’s surreal, and the only measure we have of it is online. A million followers on Instagram is a mad number of people.”
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