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Ruby Barker on Playing Marina Thompson on Bridgerton

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Ruby Barker on Playing Marina Thompson on Bridgerton

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BRIDGERTON (L to R) RUBY BARKER as MARINA THOMPSON in episode 103 of BRIDGERTON Cr. LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX  2020

“Bridgerton” was, without a doubt, one of the biggest series of 2020. It redefined the period drama for a new generation and, in turn, introduced us to a whole new host of rising stars. Ruby Barker is one of those stars, after we met her character, Marina Thompson, in the first series of the show. Now, “Bridgerton” has been renewed for a second series, and it’s due to land on our screens in March. Ahead of the release, we caught up with Barker to chat about her journey into the acting world, her new partnership with Müllerlight, and of course: all things “Bridgerton”.

POPSUGAR: Tell us a bit about your work with Müllerlight; how did the partnership come about?
Ruby Barker: I auditioned for them to do the voice-over of their new commercial campaign. They were actually looking for someone older, but I was put forward as a bit of a dark horse because I didn’t fall within the age range that they were looking for. I love Müller, and I’d recently done “Bridgerton”, and the campaign had this whole sort of period style and everything, so it all worked out.

PS: Speaking of “Bridgerton”, you play Marina Thompson in the first series. How did you get involved in the show?
RB: I’ve been acting since I was 19, and I didn’t go to drama school, I just sort of worked my way up, starting in community theatre, and then doing children’s television from there and eventually making small appearances on TV dramas. After that, I got to do my first independent film, and then my “Bridgerton” audition, so it’s all happened quite naturally.

PS: Moving from the world of theatre to TV seems to be quite a common trajectory for young actors. What was it like transitioning from one to the other for you?
RB: Finding one’s process as an actor is something that is constantly being developed and evolving, and everybody’s different. I think acting is a very hard thing to teach because it’s quite abstract, isn’t it? The whole idea of becoming a different person. We all change, and adapt, and learn, and discover different parts of ourselves through roles and also through different stages in our lives. The technique I’ve learned through the theatre is to watch the people around me, learn from them, and feel my way through it. If there was an image to describe my process when I’m actually in the space though, it would be that I’m essentially a blind toddler feeling my way through a piece, and by the end, I’ve got something.

“Being a person of colour in a show like this, as far as I’m concerned, it’s about time.”

PS: We’re sure you’re a lot more graceful than that! Was it difficult to get used to the different audiences?
RB: It was so different because obviously you don’t have as big a rehearsal period in film and TV because of budgeting reasons and other things. There’s different expectations, and in theatre, you just turn up, and you’ve got a long period of time in which you can work on a project and explore those relationships within a story. On screen, you really need to be able to show up, know exactly what you’re doing, and really just trust in the process. In terms of the audiences and the crew, everybody’s busy doing their job, so it’s a little bit different to theatre. I couldn’t really compare a crew to a live theatre audience who came to sit and actually watch.

PS: “Bridgerton” ended up being a massive series. Was that something you anticipated when you joined the cast?
RB: To be honest, from the minute that I got the script through and I read episode one, I knew that it was different. I knew that it was going to be great, and I knew that people were going to really enjoy it. So I did sort of anticipate its success. What I did not anticipate was that over 87 million households were going to sit down and watch it. I didn’t know how successful it would be, but I had a lot of confidence in the powers that be that this show was going to make it.

PS: Definitely. Do you feel like there are many similarities between yourself and your character, Marina?
RB: I definitely have a fire in my belly as she does. I don’t think I’m going to go entrapping anybody, but yeah, I do relate to her very much. I remember as a teenager feeling alienated at times and feeling like I don’t fit in and being an outsider, so I can really relate to that experience, I suppose.

PS: Definitely. “Bridgerton” is also a lot more inclusive than other period dramas we’ve seen; how did it feel to be a part of that?
RB: It’s really cool. We’re used to seeing mixed-race characters in particular playing the stereotypical bubbly best friend, lit with golden light from behind with the Afro. We play a certain trope, and we see these characters again and again and again, but Marina completely broke out of that, and I love that about her. It just gave her agency. I think that’s empowering, seeing any character of any different colour, creed, or background playing roles that push the usual narrative and challenge people’s potential biases that they have about us and about who we are. I absolutely loved Marina for that, but being a person of colour in a show like this, as far as I’m concerned, it’s about time.

PS: Finally, how excited are you to get back to it for series two?
RB: I literally cannot wait. I can’t wait. It’s going to be fantastic. It is going to be spectacular and colourful, beautiful, exciting, romantic, and funny. It’s going to be great.



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