Jonathan Bailey on Not Hiding His Sexuality to Get Roles: ‘Reached a Point Where I Thought, F*ck This’

While audiences will be soon swooning over Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in Season 2 of the Shondaland hit for Netflix, Bailey revealed that he finds it “scary” to be back in the “Bridgerton” britches.

“Any actor who thinks they’re a sex symbol? Cringe,” Bailey told GQ. “The idea that [‘Bridgerton’] is coming out again is a bit of a rug pull. It’s quite scary.”

Bailey, as the eldest Bridgerton son, takes center stage in the new season, premiering March 25. This season finds Anthony playing a dangerous game with the hearts of two sisters — Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran) — whom Anthony must choose between. While the show is known for its frank yet stylized depictions of sexuality, Bailey (who is openly gay) revealed he was told early on in the show to keep his own sexuality hidden offscreen.

Bailey recalled the harsh advice once given to an actor friend of his during pilot season. “There’s two things we don’t want to know: If you’re an alcoholic or if you’re gay.”

Bailey said, “All it takes is for one of those people in that position of power to say that, and it ripples through… Of course, I thought that in order to be happy, I needed to be straight.”

Yet after years on stage and onscreen, Bailey decided to talk publicly about his own love life. “I reached a point where I thought, ‘Fuck this, I’d much prefer to hold my boyfriend’s hand in public or be able to put my own face picture on Tinder and not be so concerned about that than getting a part,’” Bailey said.

The “Crashing” alum added, “You put your life experiences into [the work]. What’s most interesting is not necessarily having to talk about what that is, and keeping a sense of privacy.”

As for his “Bridgerton” role, Bailey hinted that Season 2 will delve deeper into “what it means to be a rake, and how [Anthony’s] anxiety and self-hatred plays into that.”

“Bridgerton” creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen previously told IndieWire that Bailey’s Anthony and Ashley’s Kate have palpable chemistry, with their onscreen coupling “such a force to be reckoned with: magnetic, you cannot take your eyes off them when they’re together.”

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