Bustle Exclusive

More Than Ever, Ruth Gemmell Is The Heart Of Bridgerton

After doling out romantic advice, the matriarch is ready for a courtship of her own.

Confident woman in a white shirt sitting on a chair, looking at the camera with a subtle smile.
David Reiss

Bridgerton Season 3 finds Violet Bridgerton at a crossroads. She still has several unmarried children, but according to Regency social mores, it’s time for her hand over control to her daughter-in-law, Kate (Simone Ashley), who’s the new Viscountess Bridgerton. Fortunately, Kate objects, letting Violet continue steering the Bridgerton ship.

In some ways, it’s a commentary on Ruth Gemmell’s role on the popular Netflix series, which returned May 16. Instead relegating her to a background character, the decision fortifies her place as the heart of the titular brood — while possibly opening the door to her own romantic arc, too.

“She’s probably a little bit jealous [seeing her children fall in love]. It awakens something in her that she was surprised to feel awakened by,” Gemmell tells Bustle, referencing the loss of Violet’s husband before the show’s timeline. “It’s like having a mirror put up in front of her, to show her how much of a void Edmund’s death has left.”

The new installment continues a thread from the spinoff, Queen Charlotte, in which Violet realized that her metaphorical garden was “in bloom.” In Season 3, she meets a potential suitor in Lady Danbury’s mysterious brother, Marcus Anderson (Daniel Francis). “She allows herself to be charmed by him and to flirt with him,” Gemmell says.

Below, she breaks down shipping #Polin, a potential complication with Marcus, and a behind-the-scenes detail she dares fans to find.

David Reiss

Violet is helping two of her kids navigate relationships this season. How does her approach change between Colin and Francesca?

With Francesca, she is too nervous to speak her mind. She’s frightened of what the queen will say. It’s lovely that she’s the diamond, but it’s a bit nerve-wracking, considering she doesn’t want to play the game. And then there’s a lovely scene when Colin is hungover and doesn’t want to go to the ball. [My character] cajoles him about how he’s going to miss the opportunity of a lifetime if he doesn’t get his *ss down to the ball. I like that.

As fans wait for Part 2, are there any #Polin clues they should look out for?

It’s lovely to go back and to see how much [Penelope] has hankered after him and how much she sidesteps the issue. You see Colin doing something similar but not realizing it. In the books, Violet is always encouraging her sons, certainly Colin, to dance with Penelope. So I like the idea that she’s always thought that Penelope was a way forward for Colin, almost as if she’d been waiting for him to wake up and smell the coffee.

I always enjoy seeing behind-the-scenes cast moments. Do you have a favorite memory from filming Season 3?

I dare anyone to find this, but there was a group of us [filming] a very complicated scene with a lot of rehearsing involved. We are so deep in the background that no one can see us. It went on forever, and we were cold. To amuse ourselves, we just kept swapping places. That brings a smile to my face.

Liam Daniel/Netflix
Liam Daniel/Netflix
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We haven’t learned too much about Marcus yet. How does his relationship to Lady Danbury affect Violet?

Violet is going to be so tentative about dipping her toe in this water, about embracing life again. And she realizes it’s a very complicated issue for her friend and is concerned [about getting] the consent of her friend. Whatever she wants out of life, nothing can come between her and her children, or her friendships. Those are the things that have held her together. Flirting is one thing, but she needs everyone to be on board.

This might be like asking a mom who her favorite child is. But as a viewer, is there a specific love story you’re excited to see in Season 4 or beyond?

They all have their own uniqueness. I’m always excited about Eloise’s character. She’s so cool, so I’m excited about what she brings.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Photographer: David Reiss

Styling: Miranda Almond

Make-up: Charlotte Yeomans

Hair: Adam Cooke