Luke Newton

21 March 2022

Photography Pip Bourdillon
Fashion Abena Ofei
Interview David Gillespie
Grooming Emma White Turle
Special Thanks to Locke at Broken Wharf

London is a dependable place. Look around for a storm cloud and you’ll most often find one, search for a siren and you’ll most probably hear one, ask for a good time and you’ll most definitely have one. For those who enter its chaotic orbit, clutching a dream or a vision, you can always depend on London to make it happen. As we delve into Luke Newton’s story so far, we discover London appears at the epicentre of his journey to our stages and screens. Captured by photographer Pip Bourdillon, we see Luke return to London’s charted streets in an ode to the city where it all started.

As we travel along the trajectory of Luke’s career, it somewhat seems each and every piece has been perfectly placed, a steppingstone towards a peak of ever-growing evolution. From his TV debut on BBC’s The Cut, to his West End debut in The Book of Mormon, all the way back to the 19th century in the internationally acclaimed period drama Bridgerton, Luke reveals how his craft has been tuned through the embodiment of each of his roles. As both an actor and a singer, Luke humbly accredits the wealth of his skillset to those who have taught him throughout the years, but reminds us that although the teaching is over, he’ll continue to learn for the rest of his life.

For Luke, his career as an actor was almost inevitable; a binding of biology, a life-calling inherited from a family of actors and entertainers. Despite these affirming familial foundations, Luke’s journey has not been without its obstacles. Growing up with dyslexia and ADHD, Luke reveals how he’s learnt to adapt to an industry contingent of reading and reciting lines, often in confined timeframes at short, sharp notice. Yet it seems this self-described “actors’ nightmare” will serve as a blessing, not a curse; paving the way for other actors with similar struggles to aspire to their full potential, no matter what.

Although Luke describes the slights and subtleties unseen on the stage as seen on the screen, one thing remains blindingly clear, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Luke Newton.

Catch Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in season 2 of Bridgerton. Out on Netflix on 25th March 2022.

Let’s imagine you’re starring in the self-titled film ‘Luke Newton: The Movie’. What would be the plot?
Oh, God. What would it be? I don't know. I guess it would be a story about a young boy who had no other option than to go into this industry. My entire family did, so it was almost like the only thing that I knew. No one in my family worked in a bank or had any other job outside the industry, so it would probably be more of an interesting film story if I had been the breakaway from tradition. I just went with what everyone else was a doing - performing. It sounds a bit dull to be honest. When I was a kid, I loved High School Musical and I played basketball, so both together, I was obsessed! I think it's because I'm rubbish at football so needed to find something I was actually okay at. But obviously, I loved musical theatre. I used to be in the drama group, but played basketball so people were just telling me that I was the Troy of my school. So maybe my film would be the English version of that, something really cheesy…

You’ve been acting for almost half your life. Has there ever been a point you dreamt of pursuing a different path, away from acting? It sounds like you've always been very invested.
I've thought about that a lot recently. Because of the pandemic, because of lockdown, there have been a lot of people that have chosen to leave the industry. There was a time leading up, until I started Bridgerton, that I wasn't booking any work. At the time, I was trying to make the crossover from being in musical theatre to being on TV and there was a period of time when I could have been like, ‘I can't, I can't keep waiting for the next job’. Members of my family said, “Why don’t you audition for another musical again? We loved going up to London see you in that…”. I had an amazing team around me, my agents at the time were so adamant that we could make it work and I had to keep going. A lot of my friends are having a tough time with it, so I tell them to just keep going. If it's what you want to do, then keep going and in the end, it will work out. I found a level of comfort and reassurance in thinking - I always use the dartboard analogy - if you keep throwing darts, eventually you'll hit bullseye. If you keep going for auditions, eventually you'll book one. It may take five auditions, it may take 500, but if you keep going and you're hard working, you're going to book one. I guess that's what I did and, in the end, I felt quite comfortable in waiting for hours, days, weeks, thinking it will come as long as I'm adamant and I keep going.

What are some of your daily rituals?
When I'm on a job, it varies for every role. For Bridgerton, my character and the Bridgertons in general are very well spoken and eloquent, so I would do a vigorous vocal warmup. It's actually quite funny to think about - I could be three trailers away, but I could always hear different characters around me doing their own little vocal warm ups. Eloise Bridgerton speaks really fast, so I often hear Claudia Jessie doing her vocal warmups; that's always quite a fun thing to wake up to at four in the morning. Physically, I always kept an eye on Luke Thompson, who plays Benedict Bridgerton, because he's always doing a physical warm up. Because it's a period drama, you'd expect us to have really good posture, and that we stand straight all the time - everything's quite formal. What's interesting in Bridgerton is that we explore the physically contemporary side of thing. We want to show that in a ‘normal’ family and their family home, they would sleep on the sofa, they would put their feet up on the chairs, they would jump around the room. It's not how it's usually portrayed on screen, is it? People are comfortable in their own home, and they have a family routine, so we try to incorporate a bit of that as well.

Behind the scenes, my daily routines are simple things. Before I go to work, I have to get up and shower because I feel like I'm not awake if I don't. One time I was staying at a hotel and I got back super late but I was getting up super early, so I decided to shower that night to save time the next morning. I just remember waking up in the makeup chair thinking ‘oh my god, I'm actually falling asleep, I can't do this, I have to shower’. Also, I always shave before I come in. A lot of actors shave in the chair, but it’s a bit of a ritual for me to shave and shower before I set off; it wakes me up and makes me feel more in character. I wouldn't shave on a day-to-day basis, but as Colin, I do.

After the vocal and physical warmup, there's a nice moment where we all go in and block a scene and I like to take a moment there. The most amazing thing about Bridgerton for me is that the sets are 360° sets: the hallway does actually lead to the living room which leads to the dining room. You could get lost in it and believe you're there. Also, everything on the set is real. You don't pick up something and its plastic and falling over. Will Hughes-Jones, the set designer, has done such an incredible job that the set totally transports you. So as actors, all we have to do is bring the character and then you're there, which is just an absolute joy to work on. It's also nice to just sit there for five minutes before starting and work out what we're going to mess around with, whether I'm going to be eating or whether I'm going to be playing with a paper plane or anything, it’s great.

You’re reprising your role as Colin Bridgerton in season 2 of Netflix’s smash series Bridgerton. How does it feel to be a part of an award-winning show with an incredible cult following of fans all over the world?
Mind blowing! I’ve felt proud of everything I've done and I’m always keen for it to have a level of success as all of us would. But with this, none of us had any idea. I think we knew that there was longevity with the books - there could be eight potential stories. We knew that there was going to be a new twist, we felt it when we were filming it. It just felt so colourful and vibrant, unlike anything any of us had worked on or seen before. But none of us had expected what we felt when it was released on Christmas Day 2020. It completely blew us all away. It was amazing to see it blow up. None of us saw it together in person, we didn't have a premiere, we didn't have a screening, it was all online. Although it wasn’t the norm, it was still incredibly overwhelming, and it made it even more special going back for the second season.

Colin is the third Bridgerton brother and is described as the most charming and adventurous, but yearns for more from life. Are there any similarities between Colin Bridgerton and you, Luke Newton?
I definitely think there are some. We've done a few interviews as ‘the Bridgerton brothers’, and if there's anyone in the group who is like their character, I guess it’s me. Colin likes to calm things down with humour, which I do within my family at home. But there are things that I definitely don't relate to. Colin is the third eldest son, and during that time period, the third eldest would lack responsibility. I'm the eldest in my family, and always feel like I’m leading the fort, much like Anthony Bridgerton, so there are times when I watch Anthony's character and totally relate to how he feels. There are definitely aspects of Colin I resonate with. Quite a funny one that came up this year was that Colin is a big foodie, he loves his food - that's me, that is absolutely me. If I'm on set, there are times when with catering, if there's a really good lunch, I'll whisper and ask if I get a second lunch because it was so great, I'd love to have that again. Last year, I saw a response online that fans loved that Colin was a big foodie in the books - it's not necessarily written into the series - but there were scenes this year, a lot of scenes actually, where we'd be in the dining room or when the Bridgerton’s dine together, and we'd have some scones or biscuits, and I made it a habit to say to the team ‘can I have a plateful?’. Every single day, ‘can I just have a massive plateful?’. I'll say I won't eat many, I just want it to look like he's always stacked his plate; that actually came from the fans. It gives him this little extra thing, like a little secret easter egg for the fans to see. I loved incorporating that into this season.

What are your hopes from Colin as season 2 approaches?
I hope for him to move on from last season, I think it weighs on him a little bit. He has a heavier conscience than the other siblings. Obviously, he was directly involved with everything that happened with Marina last season, and I think he's got a bit of a heavy heart and feels the guilt. Even though he wasn't really at fault. The society, everyone around him, what he represents - everything was amplified and that made the situation worse. At the start of season two, he arrives back from travelling, so he's ticked it off his list, that was kind of his ambition and passion for the whole of season one. Colin felt lost, or out of sorts, so his go-to was travelling. That was his ambition, that's what he wanted to do, he wanted to see the world. Now that he's done that, I think he's going to struggle to find something that he's as invested in. Hopefully he doesn't run off every five minutes - I'll be in and out of the show for the rest of time - but that’s what I hope for him.

Your theatre career commenced on the West End stage as the Prince of Wales in The Book of Mormon. This must have been incredibly special for you. What memories stand out to you most about your debut?
I remember I was at drama school at the time and classes were still on, but I had the auditions for it. I think I was 19 at the time which actually was the age of the role, which never happens, particularly on stage; usually you play younger. It was the first year that I had come to London, so I was part of the original London cast, which was so exciting for me, I always wanted to do it. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be in the original cast, I’d seen my Aunties do it throughout their careers.

I told my drama teacher at the time and she said I might struggle, but I didn't really understand why. She explained that she knew that I wanted to go down the TV and film route and that I always loved the naturalistic side of acting, the subtleties that maybe only a few people on screen see, when it's really close. But I was now part of a show where I’m playing a huge personality, it's full of energy; you can't get bigger in terms of energy on stage. She made me worry a little bit, but at the same time, it was a good little heads up to go, ‘okay, you've really got to work on this’. It honestly changed the trajectory of my career because it made me realise that being big and over the top, loud, a massive character, can still be real and there are people like that. Just because I'm not like that in real life doesn't mean that I can't relate to someone that is, so it did help me with my TV and film career as I went on. As I was only 18/19 at the time, I couldn't comprehend it. It wasn't until years later, seeing my friends and people that are close to me auditioning for West End shows and getting close and not getting it - just the reputation of the West End in general - I had to step back and go, ‘wow, I did that’.

I was 19 and I had an amazing experience and loved it but I don't know if I appreciated it as much as I would now. I had my audition with Casey Nicholaw, the director, who came over from America. I went in and did round after round of auditions for a week. By the time I’d finished, I was exhausted, vocally exhausted, physically exhausted. I'd been at college all day and then came to the last audition and Casey said “Great, that was amazing!”, and I couldn't even speak anymore, because I was so exhausted. So, I just went ‘yeah?’ - it sounded like I was agreeing that I was amazing when I was just tired – but he said “That is the confidence we want in the character, that is exactly what we need”. I didn't have the heart to say ‘I'm just exhausted and can't speak’, it obviously helped because it meant getting the role. I'll always cherish being on that stage and working with that team of people, it was incredible.

Many will recognise you as Ben Evans from Disney Channel’s musical series The Lodge. How does your approach to your craft differ on screen to on stage?
I think being in musical theatre really helped me with that. My very first job was when I was about 16/17 on The Cut, which was a TV show, so I already had that experience. After that, I went and did The Book of Mormon and a couple of other musical theatre shows. So when The Lodge came up, I tried to incorporate my theatre experiences, but still tried to treat it as a totally different job. For example, a scene could have those subtle details in a performance that you wouldn't even notice on stage, but for the big dance numbers where we're all singing and dancing with each other, then I could just do what I would do on stage. Something I always wanted to do was a job that involved singing, as I love to sing, so I'd love to do something again that’s TV and film, but incorporates singing. It was just a dream job for me, and when things started to take off, I noticed my following online started to come through from the Disney Channel fans, we had a really successful first year. I got a little taste for it, so I'd love to do TV and film a bit more. Something I particularly enjoyed was the lifestyle of it, the techniques, what it takes stamina wise. I just absolutely loved it.

Would you like to make a return to the stage in the future?
Yeah, absolutely. I was thinking about it recently, actually. When my team and I discuss what the plan is, the majority of the time, it's just getting good material. I want to work with good material and projects that I'm passionate about that covers the whole bracket of acting, whatever that involves. I'd love to go back on stage, in a play, be in a musical again at some point. It’s not the immediate plan right now, but it's definitely something I wouldn't say is over for me. Following people's careers like Hugh Jackman, if I could go right now to New York and see him on Broadway, I would in a heartbeat. I love when actors broaden their horizons and get involved in everything. I think it's brilliant.

I’ve been told that little compares to being on stage in front of a cheering audience, the energy sounds incredible…
Absolutely, you feel it on stage and you feel it as an audience member as well. We’ve only recently been able to see things live again. I think because it was taken away from us for so long, and I was recently seeing people that I’m close to on stage for the first time, it hits totally different. I'm so excited that theatre is back and really starting to get up and running again. But yeah, there is no other feeling than it being completely live, onstage.

You studied acting in London, am I correct?
Yeah, I went to a school called the London School of Musical Theatre. It was a year course for a musical theatre diploma. I already worked in TV at this point but wanted to really get my vocals up to scratch because that was one thing that I wanted to have in my piggy bank of skills as a TV and film actor. Throughout that year I realised I would love to audition for a musical, and that's where The Book of Mormon thing came from. It was amazing for me, the whole acting department, I absolutely loved it and I couldn't have done half of the jobs that I've done without the whole experience.

What is one thing you learnt from your time there that has stuck with you throughout your career so far?
I'll always be learning no matter what point in my career I’m at or what age I get to. When the first season of Bridgerton came out, I got a really lovely email from my drama teacher and she actually gave me bits of feedback from what she'd seen in the show. She told me that even she still gets notes from her drama teacher, and she's in her 60s now. You could be doing the same show for multiple years, and you can continue to learn because if my character is growing, so am I. That’s my favourite thing, learning on the job. I learn more on each job than I could have ever learnt in any training capacity. Maybe that's an age thing, maybe because I'm more susceptible to learning and want to find out stuff now. When I was younger, especially at school, I wasn't very academic, I wasn't driven by that. Whereas now I'm older, I think ‘why did I not pay attention to history? I should know this for the backstory of my character’. In other jobs, you can be totally qualified and that's it, you know everything there is to know about that particular job, but for me, I'll continue to learn forever.

You’ve spoken previously about having dyslexia and the challenges it entails when reading scripts under pressure. How have you learnt to deal with dyslexia and overcome the hurdles it’s created in your career?
We're in a much better time now than when I was at school. Now it's okay to talk about it and bring it up. My agent and my team know about it, so if I’m asked to do readings for things and sometimes it's at an hour's notice, as long as I can get the script and read through it within an hour before, then I'm okay. But if not, then unfortunately, I'm not able to do it. It's all just about preparation for me and being able to look at it in advance. It’s actually a weird one because it almost feels like an actor's nightmare. Because I'm dyslexic, I find it difficult to read a script, and I have ADHD, so I'm easily distracted, especially when I'm not completely focused. It's just an absolute nightmare, but sometimes I get totally hooked; that's what happened the first time I read the Bridgerton script.

There are a lot of times when I'm not able to get through entire scripts before auditioning for something because there's not enough time. If I've got to do an audition in two days, there's no chance I'll be able to read a 100-page script and learn all the lines - I have to prioritise. I have people that help me out that can read things and sort of summarise things for me, and that really does help. But if my team weren't honest and said I’ll need a script by a particular date, I wouldn’t be able to learn the lines. For Bridgerton, even throughout COVID-19 and lockdown, we did table reads, but we did it on Zoom, so I could listen and hear each character reading their role, which for me was just incredible. That's exactly what I needed, rather than me sat down thinking about who’s who. It's more about being open and honest about it and not being embarrassed. When I was at school, I was offered to go into a separate room for a bit of extra time during exams, but I didn't really want that because I didn't want the extra attention around it. Now, I'd go ‘yes, please, I'll take the extra time any day’. I think it's about not being embarrassed by it, just asking for whatever you need, no matter what it is.

What words of advice would you give to an aspiring actor who may struggle with reading, dyslexia or ADHD?
I’d definitely say prepare and immerse yourself in the script or story in any way you can. With Bridgerton, I made the decision when I started that I was going to read each book as we did that season. I get fixated on nuggets of information, and that could cloud my judgement later on. So, say I read all eight books, and something happens to Colin in the eighth book, but we're filming the second season, that would distract me and even influence me slightly. So, I decided from the first season, I was always going to read each book, one season at a time. There’re actually audio books for every Bridgerton book, so I could sit there with the book in my hand, but listen to the audio as though someone was reading it to me. That can make it so much easier, so that’s definitely something I’d suggest to someone who might find reading difficult. There are even apps where you can literally input in a whole script and someone will read it to you. Those are some of the ways I deal with things because I can't get through it in time. Maybe that will help someone else.

Are there any dream roles you would love to portray in the future?
We've touched on my love for musicals and singing, so I'd love to do a musical film because that's something I've never done. I’d like to do an old school classic, or something that I grew up with and loved like Mary Poppins. But on the other side of the spectrum, I always wanted to be a superhero as a kid. Marvel is such a massive thing, and it’s become especially huge over the last 10 years. I remember a few years ago I went out for meetings in LA and in every single office, somebody was talking about Marvel, it was just everywhere. I've only ever filmed one film, and I loved the experience. In some ways it felt like I was doing a show in terms there being a start, finish and end point. Working on a show like The Lodge, we left it open ended and on a cliff-hanger. With film, I love that we finish it and get to the end; that helps a lot with preparations in my head. But yeah, a superhero film or an old musical classic are on my list at the moment, but who knows.

As a society, our lives are increasing moving online. How would you describe your relationship with social media?
It changes all the time. I've noticed with friends of mine, it can sometimes feel like the more success you have, the less you want to put online because you feel like you're losing more and more of your privacy. For me, I use my social media for celebrations of special moments. I’m very aware that social media is just full of the good times and it doesn't represent real life necessarily, but for me, on a personal level, I love to celebrate the good moments. Everyone has tough times they go through in their life that they struggle with, but for me personally, that's not something that I share online. I deal with my tough times within my personal network, with my family. I've got a very close family, I've got really good friends, so I turn to them whenever I’m struggling. In terms of what I post, I try not to keep it all work related because there are so many other things that go on in my life, other things outside of acting I'm really proud of.

Fast forward to 2032, where do you hope to be?
I'd like to think that, career wise, I’ve worked on multiple jobs that I'm proud of and passionate about. For me, my success is all about the projects and the work, not necessarily about their reputation or what it's going to do for my career. It’s weird, as an actor, I don't plan past two months, let alone ten years. My friends find it so frustrating when we try to book something and I’m like ‘I don't even know what I'm going to be doing next week mate’. So honestly, I can't tell you what I hope for in two months, but I guess in 10 years, I'd love to have started a family, I'd love a dog, but now it's just not the right time for me with my job. In terms of my life and my career, I’d like to have made a difference. I’d like to show people that are dyslexic or have ADHD that want to get into this business but are worried, that it is possible. Maybe I can inspire someone that's at school who’s fascinated by acting or loves playing characters but struggles academically, they can look at my work and think, “That guy didn't have a great time at school and look what he's done, I can do the same”. I’d love that.

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ABOVE LEFT: Luke wears blazer by Tommy Hilfiger, shirt by Frescobol Carioca, trousers by Paul Smith from Matches Fashion and trainers by Veja.
ABOVE RIGHT: Luke wears knitted polo by Paul Smith from Matches Fashion and trousers by Officine Générale from Matches Fashion.

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Above left: same as before.
ABOVE right: same as before.

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ABOVE LEFT: Luke wears parka by Officine Générale from Mr Porter, jacket by M.C Overalls, shirt by Oliver Spencer from Matches Fashion and trousers Mr P from Mr Porter and trainers by Veja.
ABOVE RIGHT: Luke wears jumper by Sandro, trousers by Frescobol Carioca, sneakers by Russell & Bromley and jewellery stylists archive.

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ABOVE left: Luke wears jumper by Sandro, trousers by Frescobol Carioca, sneakers by Russell & Bromley and jewellery stylists archive.
ABOVE right: same as before.

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Above left: Luke wears shirt by Oliver Spencer from Matches Fashion and trousers Mr P from Mr Porter and trainers by Veja.
Above right: same as before.

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