Nicola Coughlan looked sensational as she posed up a storm for the May edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine

The actress, 37, showed off her effortless sense of style in the snaps as she showcased her hourglass figure in a stunning satin pink dress with plunging neckline. 

With the third series of Bridgeton set for release next month, the next installment will focus on Nicola’s character Penelope Featherington and her romance with Colin Bridgerton

And the Derry Girl star admitted she is ‘terrified of the scrutiny’ as she steps into the role as leading lady for the first time, but wants to prove that ‘sometimes the oddball in the corner can take centre-stage’. 

Nicola candidly admitted: ‘Yes, I’m terrified of the scrutiny, the opinions, the number of eyes on me; but, ultimately, the thing that’s making me step out of the shadows, even though it terrifies me, is that I’m so proud of the work I’ve done, the people I’ve worked with and these beautiful shows we’ve made. 

Bridgerton's leading lady Nicola Coughlan looked sensational as she wowed for the May edition of Harper's Bazaar cover shoot and confessed she is terrified of the 'scrutiny' she may receive for her latest roles

Bridgerton's leading lady Nicola Coughlan looked sensational as she wowed for the May edition of Harper's Bazaar cover shoot and confessed she is terrified of the 'scrutiny' she may receive for her latest roles

Bridgerton’s leading lady Nicola Coughlan looked sensational as she wowed for the May edition of Harper’s Bazaar cover shoot and confessed she is terrified of the ‘scrutiny’ she may receive for her latest roles

The actress, 37, showed off her effortless sense of style in the snaps as she showcased her hourglass figure in a stunning satin pink dress with plunging neckline

The actress, 37, showed off her effortless sense of style in the snaps as she showcased her hourglass figure in a stunning satin pink dress with plunging neckline

The actress, 37, showed off her effortless sense of style in the snaps as she showcased her hourglass figure in a stunning satin pink dress with plunging neckline

‘I hope I can show the world, along with myself, that sometimes the oddball in the corner can take centre-stage.’

Discussing her role as the much loved Penelope, she explained how this series of filming for the hit Netflix show has been completely different to the first two, and Nicola has had to take herself out her comfort zone to step into the limelight. 

‘The major difference is that in the first two seasons, Pen was a supporting character, the oddball in the corner, but this time she’s very much centre-stage. 

‘The only issue with this is that “oddball in the corner” is actually a niche I do very well. I’m comfortable there! “Strange girl no one pays attention to? Where do I sign up?”.’

Set against the background of a Bridgerton-esque house, Nicola looked incredible as she put on a leggy display in a floaty black dress with huge exaggerated shoulder pads. 

The Irish actress shot to fame portraying Clare Devlin in Channel 4 sitcom Derry Girls, with many fans considering her a fan favourite.

After a role as Hannah Dalton in Harlots in 2018, she then went on to make her West End debut in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, before then appearing in Bridgerton in 2020. 

Since the success of the Netflix phenomenon, Nicola has been invited to the Met Gala, appeared on a variety of hit programmes including RuPaul’s Drag Race and was named one of Vogue’s Best Dressed Women of 2021.

With the third series of Bridgeton set for release next month, the next installment will focus on Nicola's character Penelope Featherington and her romance with Colin Bridgerton (pictured)

With the third series of Bridgeton set for release next month, the next installment will focus on Nicola's character Penelope Featherington and her romance with Colin Bridgerton (pictured)

With the third series of Bridgeton set for release next month, the next installment will focus on Nicola’s character Penelope Featherington and her romance with Colin Bridgerton (pictured)

She confessed to the publication: 'I hope I can show the world, along with myself, that sometimes the oddball in the corner can take centre-stage'

She confessed to the publication: 'I hope I can show the world, along with myself, that sometimes the oddball in the corner can take centre-stage'

She confessed to the publication: ‘I hope I can show the world, along with myself, that sometimes the oddball in the corner can take centre-stage’

Nicola's two latest roles see her take the leading role, as she stars as Penelope Featherington in the Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton and Maggie in Channel 4 comedy Big Mood

Nicola's two latest roles see her take the leading role, as she stars as Penelope Featherington in the Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton and Maggie in Channel 4 comedy Big Mood

Nicola’s two latest roles see her take the leading role, as she stars as Penelope Featherington in the Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton and Maggie in Channel 4 comedy Big Mood 

Set against the background of a Bridgerton-esque house, Nicola looked incredible as she put on a leggy display in a floaty black dress with huge exaggerated shoulder pads

Set against the background of a Bridgerton-esque house, Nicola looked incredible as she put on a leggy display in a floaty black dress with huge exaggerated shoulder pads

Set against the background of a Bridgerton-esque house, Nicola looked incredible as she put on a leggy display in a floaty black dress with huge exaggerated shoulder pads

The star even had a cameo in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie in the summer. 

However Nicola admitted that despite her success she is ‘in disbelief that I’m the leading lady in a romance show.’

She explained: ‘And it’s not because I find myself hideous, as some people have assumed when I say that (I’ll have you know, in the right lighting I’m a solid seven), but because it’s not something I ever dreamed of. 

‘When I was a little girl, I wanted to be one of the Gay Icons. “Bette Midler as CC Bloom? God, that’s so me!” thought six- year-old Nicola. I never sought to be the ingénue, purely because they never seemed to get the best lines or looked as if they were having the most fun.’  

Prior to her career as an actress, Nicola was living in Ireland where she worked as an optician and was left wondering whether she would ever get her big break. 

Reflecting on how far she has come professionally, she admitted: ‘When I look back at my life over the last few years, it’s hard to fathom how much it’s changed. 

In 2017, I was working part time in an optician’s, about to turn 30, living at home with my parents, unsure whether the whole “acting thing” was ever going to happen or whether I was completely kidding myself. 

‘Now, in 2024, I’m about to begin a global press tour for one of Netflix’s biggest ever shows. It’s hard for me to comprehend it. 

‘The funny thing is, I don’t feel any different to the girl who used to ring people up and tell them they’re overdue for their eye test.’

Nicola admitted that despite her success she is ' in disbelief that I¿m the leading lady in a romance show'

Nicola admitted that despite her success she is ' in disbelief that I¿m the leading lady in a romance show'

Nicola admitted that despite her success she is ‘ in disbelief that I’m the leading lady in a romance show’

In another shot she posed in a strapless white dress adorned with butterflies

In another shot she posed in a strapless white dress adorned with butterflies

In another shot she posed in a strapless white dress adorned with butterflies 

The star showed off her flawless complexion in a close up shot

The star showed off her flawless complexion in a close up shot

The star showed off her flawless complexion in a close up shot 

Prior to her career as an actress, Nicola worked as an optician as she reflected: 'The funny thing is, I don¿t feel any different to the girl who used to ring people up and tell them they¿re overdue for their eye test¿

Prior to her career as an actress, Nicola worked as an optician as she reflected: 'The funny thing is, I don¿t feel any different to the girl who used to ring people up and tell them they¿re overdue for their eye test¿

Prior to her career as an actress, Nicola worked as an optician as she reflected: ‘The funny thing is, I don’t feel any different to the girl who used to ring people up and tell them they’re overdue for their eye test’

Nicola stars alongside It's a Sin's Lydia West, in Big Mood which follows best friends Maggie (Nicola) and Eddie (Lydia) whose friendship is tested after Maggie is diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Nicola stars alongside It's a Sin's Lydia West, in Big Mood which follows best friends Maggie (Nicola) and Eddie (Lydia) whose friendship is tested after Maggie is diagnosed with bipolar disorder

Nicola stars alongside It’s a Sin’s Lydia West, in Big Mood which follows best friends Maggie (Nicola) and Eddie (Lydia) whose friendship is tested after Maggie is diagnosed with bipolar disorder

At the time of Bridgeton, Nicola was also filming for new Channel 4 comedy Big Mood, in which she also has the leading part. 

Starring alongside It’s a Sin’s Lydia West, the show follows best friends Maggie (Nicola) and Eddie (Lydia) whose friendship is tested after Maggie is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Speaking about juggling the two, Nicola said: ‘Shooting Big Mood and the third season of Bridgerton is the hardest I’ve ever worked, and the proudest I’ve ever been of my work.

‘I feel a huge responsibility in leading both shows, one being a globally loved phenomenon, the other having been written and created by one of my best friends, Camilla Whitehill – it also happens to be one of the greatest scripts I have ever read. 

‘I agreed to film both shows at the same time (I don’t ever want to let people down), and the shoots overlapped for one month in 2023. If you peered into my brain at that time, I’m sure it would have looked like a marshmallow being puppeteered by a rat.’

Nicola paid thanks to both her co-stars at the time, Lydia, and Luke Newton, who plays Colin Bridgerton, as she gushed: ‘I don’t know what I did to deserve two kind and talented angels by my side during these shows but I’m deeply grateful for them both.

The May issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK is on sale from April 11.

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