Welcome to Dazzling Nicola Coughlan, your largest online source for Irish actress Nicola Coughlan. She is best known for her roles in Channel 4's Derry Girls as Clare Devlin and Netflix's acclaimed Bridgerton as Penelope Featherington. Our site aims to bring you the latest news on Nicola and her career along with providing a comprehensive gallery of her work and appearances. We hope you enjoy the site and come back soon! V

Nicola Coughlan: ‘I didn’t like period dramas before Bridgerton’

The Derry Girls actress on giving up on Catch-22 and the moment she discovered Martin Scorsese is a fan

First play I acted in
I was one of the angels in the Nativity when I was seven. I really wanted to make my mark so I remember playing with Joseph’s beard trying to be funny and then regretting it and getting stressed. I’d always overthink my roles — I was probably the least fun kid in the school because I was taking everything deadly seriously. Then when I was nine I was in Josh Brolin’s film My Brother’s War. They held open auditions and I was just an extra who fed swans. I got to leave school for the day and we filmed it in the Claddagh [in Galway]. I got paid like 35 quid, it was amazing.

First time I realised I wanted to be an actor
I was four years old watching The Wizard of Oz, mesmerised and thinking: “That’s what I’m going to do.” Judy Garland’s is still my favourite singing voice because you feel everything she was feeling. It’s awful thinking of what happened to her. What is often missed about her is how funny she was: when you see her in interviews she has such spark. It’s so easy to paint women as these tragic characters — women are multi-faceted and we should be allowed to be. The industry is still super-tough on women, but not as overtly so.

First comedy series I watched
I used to watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus with my brother and sister, and Absolutely Fabulous. I always had a big love for comedy and was interested in the intricacies: what made things funny, what were the timings.

First period drama I watched
For my speech and drama exam I had to do the opening section of Emma so I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma. I was never a huge period drama fan before Bridgerton, but it’s given me a newfound appreciation.

First time I realised I had made it
Seeing Martin Scorsese saying he was watching Derry Girls is mad — it’s hard to imagine. I also met Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick and they really loved Derry Girls — I was absolutely baffled.

First book I loved
A series of three called Voyage to the Bunny Planet. It’s still in my mum’s house and I read them to my little nephew.

First book I couldn’t finish
I have tried so many times to read Catch-22. I’ve given up now. I found it impenetrable. I don’t know why I kept persisting. I hate the thought of reading something because you think you should read it: that’s just silly. If you’re not enjoying it, that’s fine.

First starry awards party I attended
In 2020 I went to Elton John’s Oscars party. My friend Jonathan van Ness was hosting and I went as a plus one. Derry Girls was out, but nobody knew who I was. Elton John won the Oscar and came back and performed a couple of songs on the piano. I did see Sharon Stone there and Donatella Versace, but I was far too overwhelmed by everything to speak to anyone.

First album I bought
The Spice Girls. I loved Posh because I had a little short brown bob and I used to wear black dresses. I haven’t met her yet, but I met Sporty, which was amazing.

First play I went to
I have memories of a lot of them at Galway International Arts Festival as a kid. I don’t remember the specific names, but it was really exciting to see people coming from all over the world to Galway.

First film I saw in the cinema
Baby’s Day Out, about a baby having adventures around New York City. I was six or seven and thrilled by it. It was in a cinema that used to be in the town hall in Galway.

First expensive item I bought when I made it
A Marc Jacobs handbag. That was from my Derry Girls cheque. I worked really hard and it’s nice to commemorate it and treat yourself. I love my handbags, I have to say.

The Sunday Times
Written by Blanca Schofield
Published March 24, 2024