‘Bridgerton’ Season 3 Star Victor Alli Talks John Stirling’s “Different” Courtship With Francesca & Teases Part 2

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SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from Season 3, Part 1 of Netflix‘s Bridgerton.

Bridgerton fans were more than ready to see Penelope and Colin’s love story unfold in Season 3 of the Netflix series, but little did they know that Polin wouldn’t be the only courtship in the Bridgerton household this season.

Audiences were surely surprised by the introduction of John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli) in Episode 3 as a love interest for Francesca (Hannah Dodd). Book readers will know John from the sixth novel in Julia Quinn’s series, When He Was Wicked.

In the novel, John serves a pivotal role in Francesca’s ultimate journey, to put it one way. No spoilers here, but there are below.

Deadline spoke with series newcomer Victor Alli about playing the much-anticipated Earl and what to expect from John and Francesca in the remainder of the season. Part 2 of Bridgerton Season 3 debuts on June 13.

DEADLINE: John Stirling was a very anticipated character from the books, and we didn’t know he was part of the show until the episodes debuted. How long have you been keeping that secret?

VICTOR ALLI: Oh, gosh, close to two years. Because I found out that I got the role in August 2022, and I couldn’t say anything about it…It was so hard.

DEADLINE: I can’t imagine how you’d even go about that.

ALLI: So pictures came out, and those spoilers, people found out I was playing [John]. I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to take pictures of us on set. Then this picture went around and made its way on different blogs and posts and people found me. I was getting all these messages from Brazil. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What do I do?’ I sort of told like, really, really close family and really close friends. Someone who I knew was like ‘Victor’ — and she showed me the picture — ‘You’re doing this show, aren’t you?’ I was like, ‘No.’ She literally showed me the picture of myself. And I was like, ‘That is not me. I don’t know who that is. But I’d love to do a show like that.’ On Friday, she actually messaged me, like ‘Oh, my gosh, you lied!’ I was like, ‘I’m so sorry.’

DEADLINE: John and Francesca have a bit of a quieter love story than some of the other Bridgerton couples. How did you and Hannah go about crafting that story together?

ALLI: I think we quickly realized that John and Francesca are quite odd, and different from, like you said, the other people who have the sort of intense love moments. I think it’s quite nice to play something quite different and alternative. We’ve got to explore the different ways in which connections can be made without ripping each other’s clothes off. It was quite nice as an actor. It’s a great challenge to connect with another actor without actually saying words.

During those moments, I had this inner monologue that I would run every single take, of what I want to say, but not actually say it. It just made it even more exciting, because there’s so much more to say. There’s so many emotions I’m feeling, and I’m not stifling it. It’s more just allowing the silence to guide us, in a way. Working with Hannah was amazing. We bounced off each other’s different ideas, and it was real joy. Jess [Brownell], she was really, really helpful in helping us navigate the relationship and how John does things and how he responds and how Francesca does things and how she navigates the whole marriage mart mentally.

DEADLINE: When you mentioned having an inner monologue in your head, I thought of the scene where John has called upon Francesca, and they’re sitting together not saying a word.

ALLI: I think that with John, and how odd and how different he is — I don’t know if he knows the rules and regulations of the ton, or whether he just decides not to follow them. I want to decide that he is the latter. He doesn’t want to follow the rules. He knows them, but doesn’t want to do them. So he just appears unannounced to the Bridgerton home, because he met Francesca last night and wants to see her again. So I love that. He knows what he wants, and he’s really definite. He’s not afraid to pursue and go after Francesca. But on the other hand, it is quite weird, because he is quite shy. So there are moments of boldness that we see in John and there are times where he displays an extrovert demeanor, which is quite interesting. There are definitely different levels to John in different intimate settings.

DEADLINE: This is a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read the books…but your character doesn’t have the happiest of endings, let’s say. How much about his fate did you know when you got the role?

ALLI: I had no idea. I didn’t know who I was auditioning for. I think the sides said James or something, a different name. So everything’s quite hush hush. It was before the chemistry read that I was then told, ‘You’re gonna meet Hannah Dodd, who’s playing Francesca, and you’re reading for the character of John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin.’ I didn’t know if he was a book character. So I just Googled his name. A book came up, When He Was Wicked. And I was like, ‘Oh, he’s in the book.’ So I read some of that a day before the audition. Then saw that he died. And I’m like, ‘No!’ Which is quite sad.

I’m quite glad that I didn’t know a lot about it. I think that going into it sort of half blind just made it more exciting, because [there were] a lot more surprises along the way. I really enjoyed that.

DEADLINE: So then once you know that, then you have to compartmentalize it.

ALLI: It was literally just compartmentalizing. No one anticipates their death…I did everything in the moment — the balls, the dancing…just being in the moment and enjoying all the moments and not thinking about what happens next. You give your best go on set, you do the work. The writers did such a good job. I don’t know what they’re planning for next season. But I know that it’s going to be incredible. I’m looking forward to it.

DEADLINE: What can audiences expect from Part 2, at least from John and Francesca?

ALLI: I think we can expect them to come out of their shells a bit. John starts to be acquainted with more people, more of the family. He has no choice but to be more bold and declare his love. So we really go on a journey of not speaking and being content with that, then having to speak a lot more — more than what is probably natural for us. I think we learn very quickly that if we want this to work, if we really want to do this…we have to make it known and really fight for it.

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