Source: James Phoon/Instagram

Out 'Bridgerton' Actor James Phoon Looks Forward to Queer Storylines

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Out actor James Phoon will play the straight husband of Prudence Featherington, but the actor raves that the queer content promised to fans will mark important representation.

"I think 'Bridgerton' does a lot of work in terms of putting this diversity at the forefront of its stories," Phoon told Pink News in an interview. "Although it's in this fictional Britain, and the representation we see isn't exactly the way that Britain was in the 1800s, these people did exist in terms of different races, people of different gender identities, people of different sexualities."

The veteran of British TV and stage went on to point out of queer people in the popular Netlix costume drama, "Just because we haven't heard about them before, and because the story and the spotlight hasn't been on them, it doesn't mean they didn't exist. It just means we didn't know about them, and I think that's really important."

Added Phoon: "There's a lot of conversation today about wokeness and modern diversity, and I think it can be easy for people to think that these are all really new concepts, but they're not – they're human concepts that are innate in us."

Source: Netflix

That willingness to represent extends to ethnicity, as well, Phoon noted.

"In terms of representation in a slightly different way, in terms of race, I recently found out that – I'm part-Chinese – the first Chinese person to gain British citizenship was in 1805," the actor said, explaining that that milestone was about a decade before the show's current setting.

Noting that his character is a "himbo," Phoon told Pink News, "It's really interesting as well, because this show is so set around this courting season in London, and it's all about this male-female relationship dynamic, so it's going to be interesting to explore how does a queer relationship fit within that society that is so specifically focused on men and women."

As the series heads into its third season, it greets a new showrunner, Jess Brownell, who teased fans last month with the promise that queer storylines would be a "priority" and that a queer romance would be featured this time around.

The main series has not delved into same-sex love, though it has an eager gay following. However, a prequel spinoff series focused on Queen Charlotte did include a subplot in which the Queen's personal attendant was in a gay romance with the attendant of King George III.

Pink News took note of the fact that another openly gay actor, "Fellow Travelers" star Jonathan Bailey, also plays a heterosexual character on the show.

Addressing the question of gay actors playing straight, Phoon replied, "It's a balance of both sides that you need. There needs to be stories that have characters that are specifically queer, or specifically of the global majority, and that's really important. But I also think it's important to have stories where that's not the focus, and where an actor doesn't need to fit the reality of their character."

Though he's playing a straight "himbo," the prospect of a queer romance on "Bridgerton" has Phoon stoked, the actor reiterated, telling Pink News, "I'm very excited about this queer story that Jess is teasing."

Part One of "Bridgerton"'s third season premiered on Netflix on May 16. Have a look at the trailer, below.

And check out some of the more modern looks James Phoon posts to Instagram.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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