Nicola Coughlan Spills the Tea on 'Bridgerton', Beauty and the 'Bonkers' Real Housewives

The actress is the face of Pat McGrath Labs second makeup collaboration with the hit Netflix show — and it's the talk of the ton  

Nicola Coughlan, wearing Tiffany & Co., attends the British Vogue and Tiffany & Co. Fashion and Film Party 2022 at Annabel's on March 13, 2022
Photo: Dave Benett/Getty

When Nicola Coughlan's face popped up on our Zoom call, it was immediately clear why Pat McGrath wanted the Bridgerton star, who plays Penelope Featherington (aka Lady Whistledown) to be the face of her second makeup collaboration with the hit Netflix show: The 35-year-old Irish actress has glow that rivals J.Lo's. Plus, she's a self-proclaimed "big time makeup girl" who loves to experiment with her look. Here, Coughlan chats with PEOPLE about everything from season two of Bridgerton and blue eyeshadow to her costar's bare butts.

Why was this campaign a good partnership for you?

I'm big time makeup girl. I love glowy skin, and a lot of color, and that's very much the same ideals as Pat McGrath. And we used the Pat McGrath Labs MTHRSHP eyeshadow palette on Penelope for all of season two. So when they got in touch about the second Bridgerton collaboration, it was a no brainer.

nicola coughlan; courtesy of PAT McGRATH LABS
courtesy of PAT McGRATH LABS

Speaking of looking glowy, your makeup looks amazing right now, even over Zoom. What are you wearing?

I have the Belle of the Ball palette from the new collection on my eyes. The colors are gorgeous and really pigmented. You can apply them with your fingers and add little highlights. The lipstick is Négligée, also from the collection. It's the perfect nude.

[Editor's Note: Shop the Pat McGrath Labs x Bridgerton II collection exclusively online at]

Nicola Coughlan
courtesy of PAT McGRATH LABS

How do you use hair and makeup to transform into your character?

The moment that you're in hair, makeup and costume, you feel like a different person already. You don't walk like yourself, you hold yourself differently. When I look in the mirror and I have that red wig, you're like, 'Oh it just feels different already.'

It looks like a lot of work to wear Penelope's wardrobe. Do you wish they had loungewear back then?

I sometimes wish they did because I had a specific costume in this season that was so stunning. It was a gorgeous fully beaded pink dress that weighed an absolute ton. After wearing it for 11 hours, you're like, 'get it off.' And you can't even undress yourself. Someone has to come and take it off you, because you can't undo a corset yourself. So you have to wait in your trailer until someone comes to relieve you.


What can we expect from Penelope in season two?

You had that moment at the end of season one, where you get the reveal. And now you get to see everything behind that. What she gets up to and how she sort of gets away with it and very nearly doesn't get away with it. It was so much fun to film, but I think, this demon is definitely down to the Bridgerton brothers. There's a lot of bare bottoms that had lovely makeup on them as well. You know, Jonathan Bailey in the bath.

Any steamy sex scenes in her future?

Penelope I think has a little more time to wait before she gets into that. I can safely say that she's still very much the wallflower. She is in business lady mode.

You are definitely not a wallflower when it comes to the red carpet. Your look at the BAFTAs last year was incredible.

That custom orange Valentino was such an epic gown. When I saw the drawings of the dress, I was like, I really want to do a blue eye. And I said it to my makeup artist, Neil Young, he was like, 'that's exactly what I was thinking.'

Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards 2021 - VIP Arrivals
Dave Benett/Getty

It feels like the who world, including your most famous fan, Kim Kardashian, is watching Bridgerton. What are you watching right now?

I'm so into Euphoria. I'm also really obsessed on the other end of things with The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. It's so good. They're bonkers. Like, they're truly bonkers.

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