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Nicola Coughlan: Returning to Derry Girls after Bridgerton was terrifying

Star worried about playing Clare Devlin after finishing up on Bridgerton just three days earlier

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Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton

Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Dylan Llewellyn and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell in Derry Girls

Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Dylan Llewellyn and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell in Derry Girls

Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee (second from left) with cast members Dylan Llewellyn , Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland and Nicola Coughlan at the Derry Girls mural

Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee (second from left) with cast members Dylan Llewellyn , Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland and Nicola Coughlan at the Derry Girls mural

Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan in Derry Girls

Nicola Coughlan in Derry Girls

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Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton

Switching back into character for the third and final series of Derry Girls was “terrifying”, Nicola Coughlan has said.

The actress returned to playing Clare Devlin straight after appearing as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton, the most watched show in Netflix’s history.

“In terms of the creative process, I think it really varies from role to role, and it’s been interesting for me this year because I wrapped Bridgerton on a Friday morning and I started Derry Girls on the Monday morning,” said the 35-year-old.

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Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Dylan Llewellyn and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell in Derry Girls

Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Dylan Llewellyn and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell in Derry Girls

Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Dylan Llewellyn and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell in Derry Girls

“So, I was on the plane being like, ‘How do I switch from that one character to another?’

“It’s little strange things that feel hard to explain, like how it feels physically in your body when you’re playing one character (and then) another.

“With Penelope, she’s in this world where there are a lot of eyes on everyone and everyone’s being sort of watched all the time and being judged.

“She’s a real wallflower and doesn’t want to be noticed, so with her you’re physically feeling restrained.

“Derry Girls is obviously such a different beast, and (Clare is) this character who I haven’t played in three years.

“So, there was a terrifying moment of me going, ‘Do I know how to do this anymore? Do I remember physically how to play Clare?’

“She’s very nervous and hyper, which is why I feel like there’s a lot of tension in my body right now, having just played her.”

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Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee (second from left) with cast members Dylan Llewellyn , Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland and Nicola Coughlan at the Derry Girls mural

Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee (second from left) with cast members Dylan Llewellyn , Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland and Nicola Coughlan at the Derry Girls mural

Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee (second from left) with cast members Dylan Llewellyn , Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland and Nicola Coughlan at the Derry Girls mural

The Galway-born actress also confessed that she fell asleep during a scene for the sitcom — and it ended up being broadcast.

“We used to have a lot of fun and drink wine in the evening. Then (we would) be filming 14-hour days and be very tired, so I would take naps whenever I could,” she said.

“There’s one scene, however, when I didn’t know that the camera was on me, and I’m asleep in the scene.

“If you want to go and find it, it’s in Fionnula’s house in series one. The one with the fish and chip lady (where we) set fire to her curtains.

“The mum’s come in and we’re on the couch, and if you look, I’m asleep.”

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Nicola Coughlan in Derry Girls

Nicola Coughlan in Derry Girls

Nicola Coughlan in Derry Girls

The star said she loves playing Clare because of what the character “has meant to people”.

She added: “I’m playing a gay character from Northern Ireland, and when we started filming Derry Girls, gay marriage was still not legal in Northern Ireland, so I felt a real responsibility towards that.”


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