Claudia Jessie on Eloise and Cressida's Surprising Friendship in 'Bridgerton'

eloise and cressida
Claudia Jessie on Eloise and Cressida's Friendshipnetflix

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Claudia Jessie is grateful Eloise Bridgerton is starting to grow up.

"I'm hoping by now she knows how babies are made! Because that's where we started: she didn't," Jessie tells Town & Country with a laugh, reminiscing about season one of Bridgerton. "She famously didn't know. So, I think there's been growth—she's still a teenager, though. She's 19 years old—that's so young! We're still in very formative years for her. I'm personally of the belief that everyone's personality is up for grabs at all moments; I don't think that really just stops and you're like, 'This is me.' Specifically for these young people, there's a lot to digest and take in when you're around that age."

In the latest chapter of the hit Netflix series, Eloise is getting over the end of her "situationship" with Theo, and the revelation that her best friend, Penelope, is actually Lady Whistledown—which Jessie deems is a bigger heartbreak than whatever fling she had with the printer's assistant. As Jessie says, "Forgive me, but I think you expect the end of an intimate relationship a bit more normal than a best friend. Because you really give everything, don't you, to your best friends?"

Ahead of the the season three premiere, Jessie chatted with Town & Country about Eloise's storyline—including her unexpected friendship with Cressida—and how her character serves as a stand-in of sorts for the audience.

claudia jessie as eloise bridgerton
Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3. netflix

When you got the scripts for the third season, how did you feel about Eloise's storyline?

I always get very, very excited. It's very easy when you work for Shondaland and their amazing writers and the amazing Jess Brownell, because you're guaranteed it's brilliant. So you're just looking forward to consume it almost like you're the viewer—you're buzzing, you can't wait to see what's in it.

I always get really excited for the new scripts to come through. Sometimes we might get drip fed them a bit more, but then we [get to] understand the arc of the character; Jess is amazing, she'll talk us through everything that [will] happen. But, very excited—shocked, obviously with Eloise's unlikely friendship—buzzing, though, it was so much fun! I had the best time with Jess Madsen [who plays Cressida].

You worked so closely with Nicola, in particular, in seasons one and two, but this season, you're not quite with her in the first part. What was that like to not be working with her?

Bizarre! Seasons one and two, if I wasn't with the family, I was with Nicola—or both. It did feel unusual. There would be times where, maybe if I'd finished a scene and, Nicola was coming on to do her scene, we'd see each other in the studio and be like, [mouthing] Hi!!

Obviously something very different from Julia Quinn's Bridgerton novels this season is Eloise and Cressida's friendship, at least in part one. Why do you think Eloise gravitates to her initially? What do you make of their friendship?

eloise and cressida
Madsen, left, as Cressida and Jessie as Eloise,

I love it, as a viewer and as an actor. For Eloise, I think the reason it happened, if I'm being honest, is because Cressida showed her kindness. Remember, she's just lost this lad, that she had a thing-not-thing with. And then she's lost this very sturdy column in her life in the form of Penelope—that's gone, and that's huge, that's shattering. So, she's alone, she's in the countryside in summer, and someone has shown her kindness. When you are a bit down and out, you probably would lean towards things you may not have previously, because your foundation isn't the same. Ultimately, for the for the viewers and for Eloise, it's a really good opportunity for us to see just how suffocating a situation Cressida is in.

In season three, Eloise is presented as a spinster, but not quite yet a spinster. How do you view her role in this Bridgerton universe, because, as you said, she's so young?

Eloise sees it how we see it: She's like, 'I'm 19. How can I be a spinster? I'm a 19 year old young woman!' She's with the audience. There is something about Eloise and her character that does allow her to not have the moniker of a 'spinster' or 'debutante.' There's something about Eloise that's so maverick-like that she almost dodges any of those categories. She gets away with it a bit, because of who she is.

claudia jessie bridgerton
Jessie attends the Bridgerton premiere in New York City earlier this month.Jamie McCarthy - Getty Images

Eloise, as you mentioned, feels like a stand-in for the audience. What's it like playing a more modern character in the Regency drama?

Wonderful. I suppose we have an idea of the past, but none of us are there. In my head, in Claudia's head, I'm like, this sort of human isn't completely created because of your environment. Human nature doesn't change massively. I think we all still have the same [traits]—greed and hunger and compassion and all of these things. So I can imagine that there was a young woman who was incredibly privileged, like Eloise, who would slouch in the seat with her family and roll her eyes and be like, 'You're weird. Why are you doing this? This is such a weird thing to do.' There's got to have been her. There has to have been, because of who we are now. It doesn't seem like it's an impossibility. It's fun because I get to hopefully try and make people laugh, which is my favorite thing to do in the world.

Shonda Rhimes has said she wants to make eight for each of the siblings. Eloise's future husband Philip Crane has popped up in Bridgerton (though not yet in season three). Have you discussed your future season? Is it something that's in the back of your mind?

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No! In my head, it doesn't exist until I do it. I won't allow it to exist in my head, 'cause I'll either get panicked or I'll get sad. My thing is, I get to play Eloise Bridgerton, which to me is the biggest gift ever. I have a very lovely character who has a great deal to do each season—what a privilege, what a pleasure. If that happens one day, if it does, I'll do my absolute best. I'll do exactly what I've been doing up until this point—working really hard. But until then, it doesn't live in my brain.

What are you looking forward to about next season? What are your hopes, dreams, wishes for season four?

Listen: I can't talk about this job for too long without getting teary. I will shatter into 750,000 pieces when I stop playing Eloise Bridgeton. [Getting teary] It will take me such a long time to get over. I just love being there, I just love it. So I'm just looking forward to being there again.

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