Every so often, a show is cursed with a diva in its cast. These prima donna performers can be method actors who grate their co-stars with their intensity or straight up make life a living hell for anyone in their eye line. Often, their co-stars will come to their defense, but these stars still develop a reputation for being “difficult.” In Bridgerton Season 2, that diva was a dog.
When Bridgerton Season 2 on Netflix introduces the Sharma sisters to the ton, we also get to meet Newton, Kate Sharma’s (Simone Ashley) beloved corgi. In the books, Newton is a silly, loyal boy who gets on Mary Sharma’s (Shelley Conn) nerves. He gets Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) in trouble and wins us over with his adorable ways. That’s essentially the Newton we meet in Bridgerton Season 2, but the cast had to deal with a dog actor who didn’t know how to act. That is, Bridgerton cast Austin the corgi based on his looks over his talent. He was not a trained show dog. As such, Austin, aka Newton, made life difficult for the Bridgerton cast. So were the dog’s antics worth it?
Bridgerton Season 2 follows Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find the perfect bride. Underwhelmed by the ton’s current prospects, he immediately finds his head turned by two newcomers to London: sisters Kate and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran). While Edwina comes across as the picture perfect debutante, Kate is an avowed spinster. She just wants to ride her horses, see her sister married, and hang out with her dog. That dog, of course, is Newton.
Bridgerton fans first got an inkling that the Netflix show was keeping Newton in when series star Nicola Coughlan tweeted “Corgis are bigger than I thought” on June 24, 2021. Book readers theorized she meant Newton, and Coughlan recently confirmed as much to Decider.
“Yeah, so I had no idea what size corgis were,” Coughlan said. “I only got one scene with Newton, which was a tragedy, and I realized he was huge. I thought he was the size of a Jack Russell terrier but when I saw the size of this boy, I was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’”
“I tweet rarely these days but that was something I needed to share with the world. Because I thought people are gonna know what I’m talking about here,” Coughlan added.
Because Coughlan only had the one scene, she never got to be as intimately acquainted with the dog who played Newton, Austin. Simone Ashley, however, did. Her first impression? Like Coughlan, she zeroed in on Austin’s grandiose size before noticing something else about her furry co-star.
“He was huge. I thought corgis were small; he was huge. He was a very big dog,” she said. “He wasn’t a set dog, an actor dog. I think he just fitted the aesthetic that they wanted of Newton. So he got the job and he was just terrible on set.”
“He always was awful on his cues, and bless him,” Ashley said. “If something happened that kind of spooked him, then yeah, he just wasn’t going do it which is totally fair enough. When the animal says no, the animal says no. We would just leave him alone.”
Adjoa Andoh, who played Lady Danbury, shared an awful lot of scenes with both Austin and Ashley. Mary’s antipathy for Newton in the books was transferred to Lady Danbury in the show. Andoh said she loved her character’s “horror” of the rotund corgi, as it reminded her of her African’s father’s reaction to Andoh’s own intimacy with her dog. But what did Andoh think of Newton on set? “I think what I felt about Newton was he’s a treat hound,” she said.
“That dog doesn’t move if he doesn’t have a treat,” Andoh said. “There’s a bit of me that was like — because I’m quite strict with my dog about what she can have because she’s a Labrador, she’ll eat until she falls over — so I was a bit like, ‘No! No more treats! Don’t give him anymore treats!’”
“He ate snacks all day long,” Ashley confirmed before revealing a more outrageous vice. “I have loads of scenes with him. The one that I remember is when we were filming, I think it’s outside Aubrey Hall, and we’re on this pebbly terrain, and he just kept eating all the pebbles and pooping pebbles out all day.”
“He was quite the character,” Ashley said.
“He was a sweetie, but he wasn’t the best show dog in the world,” Andoh said. “Although he does look fabulous.”
Charithra Chandran was an even more generous scene partner. “To be honest it was all worth it because he’s such a scene stealer and he’s so flipping cute,” she said.
“We have to remember that Austin, who plays Newton, is an animal. He’s a dog and we have to treat him with the kindness and soft comfort hands that we can,” Chandran said. “It’s never gonna be as easy as working with grown adults, and that’s part of the business. It wasn’t always easy but now watching the episodes it was clearly worth it because he just adds so much to the scenes.”
So there you have it. Austin, the dog who played Newton, was essentially the Jeremy Strong of Bridgerton Season 2. Now where’s his Emmy?