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‘All the scrutiny isn’t easy’

Irish actress Nicola Coughlan has spoken of the difficulties of dealing with fame and the negative side of social media which has seen opinions thrown at her like “grenades”.

The 37-year-old Galway-born star is known for playing Penelope Featherington in Netflix Regency drama Bridgerton and Clare Devlin in Northern Ireland-set comedy Derry Girls, as well as one of the dolls featured in the Barbie movie.

She told Harper’s Bazaar UK that fame “doesn’t come with a handbook” and is a “learning curve every day”.

Coughlan added that she loves acting but “all the scrutiny isn’t easy, and fame is a very strange consequence of doing my job”.

She also said: “I have so much love and respect for the fans of things I’ve done – I want them to know that I feel grateful – but it is difficult to navigate being online when people throw their opinions of you at you like grenades,” she said.

Coughlan: “Social media has made the world a dangerously binary place” [Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK/Agata Pospieszynska]

Coughlan also explained that her Instagram account can still “annoy people”, but she has changed her approach to social media to focus on sharing information from “trusted sources” or to help raise money for fundraisers.

“I feel a deep responsibility, because of how privileged I am, to speak up and try to amplify voices and causes,” she added.

She also said: “Social media has made the world a dangerously binary place; the ‘If you support X, you hate Y’ narrative is not something I am interested in, and I’ll do my best to fight against that notion.

“While I still get trolls who say terrible things to me, don’t forget, I used to be in a cult called Twitter. I’ve heard worse,” she stated.

Coughlan also teased storylines in the upcoming new season of Bridgerton [Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK/Agata Pospieszynska]

Coughlan also gave a sneak peak at what can be expected in series three of Bridgerton, which is expected to see her character Penelope take centre stage outside her role as Lady Whistledown, an anonymous letter writer who shares secrets of the ton and is voiced by Dame Julie Andrews.

She said the main theme will be Penelope “stepping out of the shadows and into the light”, before adding: “Not only was this a journey that Pen had to embark on, it’s also one I had to go on myself.

“I was presented with these brilliant opportunities but was wracked with doubt as to whether I could take on the challenge.”

Coughlan wears a variety of glamourous outfits in the photoshoot [Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK/Agata Pospieszynska]

She also said her playing the “oddball in the corner” is her niche, so becoming the leading lady in Bridgerton and Channel 4 comedy Big Mood has been an adjustment.

Coughlan said: “I’m in disbelief that I’m the leading lady in a romance show and it’s not because I find myself hideous, as some people have assumed when I say that (I’ll have you know, in the right lighting I’m a solid seven), but because it’s not something I ever dreamed of.”

She said she had thought she would become a “gay icon”, such as Hocus Pocus actress Bette Midler, and not the romantic interest.

“I never sought to be the ingenue, purely because they never seemed to get the best lines or looked as if they were having the most fun,” Coughlan added.

The May issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK is on sale from 11 April and Coughlan’s full interview is available online here.

Source: Press Association

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