We Speak to Hannah Dodd, aka Francesca Bridgerton

Image Source: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

As the third season of hit Netflix drama series “Bridgerton” is about to air, Hannah Dodd understandably still has some nerves. “I’m still a little bit on edge – I won’t feel confident talking about it until it’s all out,” she admits at the “Bridgerton” Junket. In May 2023, Netflix announced that Dodd would be joining the cast as the Bridgerton family’s sixth-oldest sibling, Francesca Bridgerton, a character that was previously played by Ruby Stokes in seasons one and two.

For Dodd, joining the cast has been a whirlwind. “It’s been really exciting,” she says beaming. “It’s such a privilege to join the show at this point, because they’ve [the cast] done such an incredible job of making it what it is. I’ve got nothing but respect for all of these lovely people. Joining the show has been the biggest gift of my life ever.”

Naturally, there is a lot of curiosity about the new actress joining The Ton. Dodd grew up in Colchester, Essex and started acting professionally straight after graduating from the London Studio Centre. You might recognise the rising British star from other Netflix series like “Anatomy Of A Scandal,” where she played the younger version of series lead Sienna Miller, or “Enola Holmes 2”.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024
Image Source: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

We’ve been introduced to Francesca Bridgerton before in a limited capacity, but this season we get to peel back the layers and see what really makes her tick. Dodd says: “The foundations of Francesca came from Ruby and she did a beautiful job, but now we get to get to know her a little bit more.” As a young woman who is now looking for a suitor, and after a diamond of the season debut from her sister Daphne, will she be pressured by her family’s reputation?

Dodd reveals: “I think Francesca’s on a journey. She’s on that journey of working out exactly what it is she wants — is she going to follow her family’s wishes? I think there’s an element of people-pleasing going on. She she has a lot of insecurities but there is this kind of quiet confidence about her.” Dodd believes that Francesca’s outlook on life is slightly different from her other siblings. “It’s not confidence necessarily but she doesn’t need outward validation — she doesn’t chase that in the same way that maybe some of her siblings have needed to.”

During this season, Francesca and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) have a scene-stealing moment standing at the wall of a ball — and there is an element of female camaraderie and support shared between them. As we know, Francesca is set to make her societal debut in season three and Penelope has been on the market for a number of years now. “I love that scene. I feel like Penelope and Francesca do share some similarities but also there are a lot of privileges that Francesca has. In that moment, Pen’s not allowing her to follow in her footsteps of being a wallflower. She’s kind of like, ‘No, off you go, you can do this’ which is so kind. I think that was Francesca’s safety net and if she had it her way, that would be how it would continue — standing with Pen in the corner.”

Bridgerton. (L to R) Will Tilston as Gregory Bridgerton, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton, Florence Hunt as Hyacinth Bridgerton, Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton, Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton in episode 301 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024
Image Source: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

The main takeaway from Francesca Bridgerton is that she is definitely an independent young woman and has a number of hobbies. Dodd says: “She has things that make her happy that she can do on her own like going for a walk, reading a book or playing piano. So, she does work a little bit differently from her siblings. As the audience get to know the character, she’s also getting to know herself too.”

Fun fact: Dodd is actually playing the piano in the show. As her cast members tease her about knowing Mozart, she laughs. “I do not know Mozart,” the actress admits. “Look, I tried okay! It was just another little added thing to deal with other than joining THE cast of “Bridgerton” like yeah, ‘Do you want some sheet music too?'”

Bridgerton Season Three: Part One airs on Netflix 16 May.

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at PS UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

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