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Nicola Coughlan’s Ultimate Red Flag And Why She Doesn’t Want A Period-Era Boyfriend

When we meet Nicola Coughlan in the suburbs of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she’s filming a new advertisement for Uber Eats, the starlet says she cannot get enough of the Sydney lifestyle.

Coughlan, who rose to fame in Irish comedy series Derry Girls and cemented her career with the likes of Bridgerton and the Barbie movie, has been enjoying some much-needed travel time, going to the Bondi Icebergs and even indulging in a little Vegemite.

“It’s so good,” she says enthusiastically. “You can get it overseas but it’s quite hard to get, so I got two gigantic jars of it.”

Coughlan explains that her elder sister Clodagh spent time in Australia and developed a taste for the national spread, so naturally she too is a big fan. Tim Tams also get the Coughlan tick of approval.

While Coughlan has been in Barbie land of late – the movie was so successful it surpassed the $1 billion mark, making director Greta Gerwig the first solo female director with a billion-dollar film – it’s all eyes on the next season of Bridgerton where Coughlan’s character Penelope Featherington takes on the role as the ‘diamond of the season’.

With the SAG-AFTRA strike in place, we don’t talk of Coughlan’s acting chops, instead dissecting her approach romance. When asked if she would prefer a period-era boyfriend over a modern day one, Coughlan is pretty decisive.

“I think nowadays they smell better. That’s what I always think about the past…we think of it as so romantic and lovely, but then there was no personal hygiene,” she says.

Although Coughlan admits that the dating scene these days also has its downsides.

“[It’s] good because we have a choice now, but then there’s that thing of the paradox of choice. We have too much choice, it’s not good. So, there’s probably good and bad things for both,” she adds. “Have too much choice, it’s not good. So, there’s probably good and bad things for both,” she adds.

We laugh about the dubious nature of dating apps but agree that being able to choose our own paths is better.

“I think we probably only see the romantic versions [of the regency era]. But in reality, it was like, you’re probably getting traded for a goat, or something, or some land,” she says. “So you’re probably better off now when at least we can make the call ourselves.”

Coughlan is starring in a hilarious new ad for Uber Eats to promote the wide range of products that you can now order through the app. The premise? Coughlan orders a ‘period romance’ but is confronted with the reality of this mistake when her regency boyfriend uses a rice cooker as a chamberpot and hasn’t showered in weeks. She decides that maybe it’s best to just stick to ordering period products instead.

“The Uber campaigns are quite iconic,” she says. “They’re always really funny and I really adore comedy – I started out on it on TV.

“Something like this – it’s about periods but it’s fun and funny – there’s no stigma around it either. That’s really good. The whole concept of it was so fun that I was like, why not?”

On the topic of dating, we can’t help but ask Coughlan what her number one red flag would be.

“When guys want to do a joker impression,” she laughs. “Just don’t…do that. That’s just an immediate ick and it’s never good. I know that’s very specific,” she says.

When asked if that’s ever happened to her, she thankfully says it hasn’t.

“But, I’ve sort of seen it online…no, that just makes me want to retreat into a hole.”

Coughlan isn’t too familiar with the concept of ‘beige flags’ but after looking it up, she, as an English major from the National University of Ireland, admits that spelling is a key one for her.

“This is really snobby, but when someone uses the wrong ‘you’re’. That makes me go ‘oh’, which is bad, it’s bad, but then I think ‘you just have to accept that’…but it can make me cringe a little bit.”

We take a tangent to the other parts of Coughlan’s life (her dream to travel to Nantucket with close friend Jonathan Van Ness and her love of TikTok chef Meredith Hayden @wishbonekitchen) and have a little chuckle when she’s asked about alternate careers.

“I knew from when I was very little that I wanted to act, but my first regular person job I was, you know, like an attendant at an exam? When I was 13, I had to escort people to the bathroom, like make sure they weren’t cheating,” she laughs.

Her dream job in an alternate universe?

“I sometimes say to people, you know like when Real Housewives have singing careers and they only write songs for gay men in gay clubs? That is a great alternative career. Often the songs are them just listing things like… ‘shoes, hangbags, glamour’,” she says.

For Coughlan, while jetting around the world with her job is so exciting (she’s visited Brazil, Japan and Italy this year), Ireland, where her family lives, will always call her home.

“I go back to Ireland as much as I can to spend time with them [Coughlan’s mum and sister]. And we slag each other off and everything, but we’re super, super close. They’re getting updates of everything I’m doing in Sydney.”

We can only assume that one of those updates involved the second mega jar of Vegemite that Coughlan purchased. A little piece of Australia brought back to her nearest and dearest.

Marie Claire Australia
Written by Cassandra Green
Published September 15, 2023