EXCLUSIVE | Bridgerton's Martins Imhangbe says Shondaland adaptation shows a London 'we should've known about'
The period drama is a treat for those that loved the novels and has been described to met a combination of 'Downton Abbey' and 'Gossip Girl'
Christmas 2020 may be an indoor one this year, but not to worry since Shondaland's 'Bridgerton' is set to release on Netflix in all its scandalous dramatic glory. The series is an adaptation from Julia Quinn's novels that follow the Bridgerton siblings as they navigate London's high society in the 1800s. The first season of 'Bridgerton' is based on the first book of the series, 'The Duke and I', and follows the story of the eldest Bridgerton sister, Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. The period drama is a treat for those that loved the novels and has been described to met a combination of 'Downton Abbey' and 'Gossip Girl'. In an exclusive interview with MEAWW, actor Martins Imhangbe who plays the role of Will Mondrich reveals a bit about the series and what audiences should expect from it.
Imhangbe revealed that he plays the role of an "up and coming boxer", Will Mondrich, which he said is "loosely based on the boxer Bill Richmond". "Through Boxing Will is climbing London's strict social hierarchy. He is also very close friends with The Duke," said the actor. 'Bridgerton' features a backdrop of 19th century England with an appreciated diverse cast, so we asked Imhangbe what went through his mind as he accepted the ole of Mondrich, how he thinks the audiences would react to it, and what impact would it have on representation. The actor said he was "really proud and excited" when he took the role and that he thought of it as a "gift" since it was his screen debut. "I had never heard of Bill Richmond before but his story was inspiring and I felt honored. It really felt like the London we all should’ve known about and learned in school, a society that was multicultural where nonwhite people had a presence that was not just filled with oppression. Real people going through universal real-life things, you know. I hope viewers are inspired and are willing to view the world we live in through a diverse lens and see beyond negative prejudice," added the actor.
Imhangbe has played a boxer on stage before, but will the sport change over the years, the actor had to learn a lot. "As a boxing fan, It’s always very exciting to have the opportunity to embody such roles. Boxing over the years has really evolved, so I had to relearn everything I thought I already knew about boxing," he said. Back in the 19th century, the sport involved was "was bare-knuckled with not much fancy footwork and hardly any rules," revealed the actor who was trained by the what he called the "excellent" Cuong Hua, his sensei. "We trained about 3-4 times a week during filming focusing on strength and conditioning in order to get in shape and be prepared for the boxing routines which were choreographed by the late and great Brian Nickels who sadly passed away towards the end of filming - may he rest in power. I’m sure he’s very proud of this show and all his work," added the actor.
Imhangbe's character, Mondrich, is close friends with the Duke, Simon Basset, who is played by the talented Rege-Jean Page. Imhangbe dished on his experience working with Page, saying, "Their relationship is a very special one and it's great to see two men be vulnerable and strong with and for each other. Rege is fantastic with an incredibly inspiring work ethic and it was a pleasure getting to know him through the show. You can expect to see a multi-dimensional Simon full of heart, pain, and joy. I think he captures so much depth in his portrayal as the Duke. Viewers are in for a treat." On a hilarious note, the actor also added that behind the scenes, they had to deal with stubborn horses. "On some days our horses were not in the mood to be filmed or to go for a ride. So that was fun, challenging, and a bit scary especially if you’ve only just learned how to ride," revealed Imhangbe.
Even though 'Bridgerton' is adapted from a novel series, it is not to say it is only for those that enjoyed the novels. While the actor didn't dish on whether there would be a second season of the series, he did say he hoped there would be one. We wondered what Imhangbe's hopes were for how viewers will receive the series. "My hopes are that there is something in this show for everyone. It’s very fun, inclusive with multi-layered characters that we all can relate to in some capacity with so much scope for more. It’s a very thrilling ride so far," he said. He added that fans should expect to be "fully dazzled by all the spectacular performances and characters". "There is so much in this show which may just be overwhelming, in a really good way! Excited for everyone to experience this beautiful and thrilling ride," he said. As for his upcoming projects, Imhangbe revealed that he has recently shot a sci-fi film titled 'Diggin' for film4 and that it is directed by Elliot Barnes-Worrell. Along with that, he's also done a "couple of very exciting things for BBC radio which are yet to be announced."
'Bridgerton' is available to stream on Netflix from Christmas Day, December 25, 2020.