Nicola Coughlan was told support for Palestine would cost her Hollywood work

Coughlan says advocacy for social justice has always been part of her life

Shahana Yasmin
Thursday 25 April 2024 06:31 BST
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Related: Nicola Coughlan defends Bridgerton changing book order for Season 3

Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan has spoken about her support for Palestine and how she was warned that it could affect her career.

“I think it’s important to me because firstly, I’m a very privileged person,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue.

“I’m so lucky I’ve gotten to this point in my career, and I’m privileged as a white woman, first off. Then the fact that I get to do the job I love and travel the world and meet amazing people, I feel a moral responsibility to give back.”

She recalled how her late father, who served in the Irish army, went into a “lot of war-torn regions after the conflict and try and help rebuild”, and the impact that his work left on her.

“My family lived in Jerusalem back in the late ‘70s, early ’80s, before I was born, so I heard first hand stories about them living there,” she said.

Speaking about the response of Hollywood executives to activism by several actors in support for Palestinian people, the Derry Girls star claimed she was told she could lose work if she continued. She has continued to wear her “Artists4Ceasefire” pin – in support of a ceasefire in Gaza – anyway.

“You do get told, ‘You won’t get work, you won’t do this,’” she said.

“But I also think, deep down, if you know that you’re coming from a place of ‘I don’t want any innocent people to suffer’, then I’m not worried about people’s reactions.”

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Bridgerton
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix/PA Wire)

Coughlan said her advocacy for social justice has always been a part of her life, long before she was an actor, campaigning door-to-door for marriage equality in her home country Ireland and marching for abortion rights.

“To me it always becomes about supporting all innocent people, which sounds oversimplified, but I think you’ve got to look at situations and just think, Are we supporting innocent people no matter where they’re from, who they are? That’s my drive,” she said.

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In spite of being on a press tour for Season 3 of the Netflix period romcom Bridgerton, Coughlan has continued to post about Israel’s war on Gaza, and raised thousands of pounds through fundraisers she has organised. She even inspired Bridgerton fans to organise their own fundraising efforts online.

Some of the Hollywood actors who, like Coughlan, have advocated for a ceasefire in Gaza have already faced repercussions.

Mexican actor Melissa Barrera was dropped from the seventh instalment of the Scream franchise after she shared posts expressing her support for Palestine. In spite of fierce criticism from fans, the film’s production company Spyglass said it had done so because it had “zero tolerance for antisemitism”.

The Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer too drew fierce backlash from Hollywood actors and executives, including more than 1,000 industry figures who signed an open letter against him, after he used his acceptance speech at the Oscars to criticise the war in Gaza.

Coughlan said that social media doesn’t allow for nuance and makes things “seem only black or white”.

“More of us should be trying to understand how upsetting and traumatising this is for Jewish people, and how horrific it is that all these innocent people in Palestine are being murdered,” she added.

Season three of Bridgerton will be released on Netflix in two parts, on May 16 and June 13.

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