Nicola Coughlan

Nicola Coughlan
Nicola Coughlan
Real name:
Nicola Mary Coughlan
Who is:
Birth date:
(37 y.o.)
Place of birth:
Galway, Ireland
5'1 ft ()
154 lb (70 kg)
Birth Sign:
Chinese zodiac:

Biography of Nicola Coughlan

Nicola Coughlan's path to fame was far from easy. The young Irishwoman began tackling the English film industry in the early 2010s, but for a long time she couldn't get past auditions. In films, she was offered roles without credit, and in theater, she could only count on being part of the crowd. By the age of 30, Coughlan found herself back at her parents' home in Ireland. For a while, she earned a living as a shop assistant and an optical consultant.

Her big break came in 2018 when she landed the role of a 16-year-old teenager in the series "Derry Girls." The following year, Nicola auditioned for the project "Bridgerton." This Netflix hit turned Coughlan into a global star.
Nicola Coughlan
Nicola Coughlan
But with fame came negativity. Nicola faced harsh criticism for her curvy figure. It wasn't just anonymous trolls on social media; podcast hosts and journalists also joined in. In each case, the actress stood up for herself and responded sharply to the detractors. To prove her confidence, in 2024, Coughlan fully undressed for a revealing scene in the third season of "Bridgerton" – this time, her character was at the center of the storyline.


Nicola Coughlan was born on January 9, 1987, in Galway, Ireland. Her father served in the army, so they soon had to move to Oranmore, where Nicola spent her childhood. Her mother was a homemaker, raising three children: Nicola, her older brother Kieran, and her sister Clodagh. The children were always very close to each other. In 1992, Coughlan attended her sister's school performance and was captivated by her sister's act. After that, she dreamed of becoming an actress. In 1997, Nicola made her film debut with a small role in the thriller about the Irish Republican Army, "The Devil's Own." However, the 10-year-old actress was not credited. In 2005, Coughlan graduated from high school and entered the National University of Ireland, choosing a major in English and Classical Civilization. By that time, she was already working as a voice actress in animated series and appeared in short films. Coughlan lent her voice to characters in animated films such as "Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale," "Simsala Grimm," and "Thor: Legend of the Magical Hammer."

First Roles

In 2012, Nicola decided to move to England. She studied at the Oxford School of Drama and the Birmingham School of Acting. Shortly after moving, she got a small role in the TV series "Doctors." In 2013, she made her feature film debut in "Svengali," where her surname Coughlan finally appeared in the credits.

However, real fame was still far off. Over the next five years, Nicola had to return home to her parents twice. She didn't get significant roles, and casting directors were in no hurry to make offers. Coughlan performed in London theaters: the Old Vic, Park Theatre, Traverse Theatre. But the roles were small, and the fees barely covered rent and living expenses. She also had a large debt from drama school.

After each failed attempt to conquer the industry, Nicola returned home. In Ireland, she worked in beauty salons, was a sales assistant at SPAR, worked as a waitress, an optical consultant, and a secretary.

At some point, depression hit her, and her sister had to make efforts just to get Nicola out of bed for a morning run. "If I wanted to go for coffee, I had to ask my parents for money. I was nearly 30 and still living with them," the actress recalled.

In 2016, Coughlan auditioned and got the lead role in the play "Jess and Joe Forever" at the Old Vic. And in 2018, luck finally smiled upon her.

Career Rise

In 2018, Nicola got the role of 16-year-old Clare Devlin in the sitcom "Derry Girls." The 30-year-old actress suddenly became the best candidate for the teenage girl character.
How Derry Girls» Nicola nailed the accent
This job saved her during the toughest period of her life: five days before she was confirmed for the project, her father passed away. She threw herself into filming to avoid thinking about her grief. The show premiered later that year and was a huge success: first in the UK, and then worldwide after it was released on Netflix. Over the course of the series from 2018 to 2022, Coughlan appeared in 18 episodes.

Also in 2018, Nicola auditioned for the role of Hannah Dalton in the historical series "Harlots." She also made her West End theater debut in the play "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie."

However, 2019 was her true breakthrough year. Coughlan successfully auditioned for the historical series "Bridgerton." She didn't even hope for such a result. "I sent the tape and was sure I'd mess it up again. When my agent told me I got the role, I was stunned," the actress recalled.

The first season of the show broke records on Netflix. It became one of the top ten most-watched series in more than 70 countries. Thanks to her character, Penelope Featherington, the youngest daughter of a once-wealthy family, Nicola became known worldwide.

Coughlan specifically read Julia Quinn's books, on which the series is based. She started with the fourth book because she was eager to find out what would happen to her character.
Nicola Coughlan on becoming a Barbie
In 2023, the actress landed a role in the movie "Barbie," starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Nicola played a diplomat Barbie. Later that year, she portrayed Queen Victoria in a special episode of the series "Dodger."

Nicola Coughlan's Personal Life

Nicola diligently kept her personal life private. However, fans discovered that in 2018, Coughlan started dating her "Derry Girls" co-star Laurie Kynaston. The romance lasted for two years.

After the first season of "Bridgerton" aired, rumors emerged about Nicola's relationship with Luke Newton (who played Colin Bridgerton in the series) due to their convincing portrayal of lovers. However, both actors claimed they were just colleagues.
Bridgerton's Nicola Coughlan & Luke Newton Compete in a Compliment Battle
With her rising popularity, Coughlan also faced a wave of criticism, primarily for her curvy figure. Standing at 155 centimeters tall, her weight fluctuated between 56 and 70 kilograms at different times. Critics often mentioned this in their reviews of her work.

In 2018, a theater critic analyzing the play "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" described Nicola as a "small girl with excess weight." Nicola didn't stay silent:
I rehearsed for seven weeks, thoroughly researched the Spanish Civil War, and spent hours perfecting the Edinburgh accent. If I wanted to read cruel comments about my figure, I would go to YouTube. But this is a professional review. Judge my performance, not my weight.
Soon after, she published a column in The Guardian, addressing the issue of excessive focus on actresses' appearances. The actress stated that her weight wasn't her defining characteristic and promised to lose weight only if a role required it, not to appease critics.

Nikola Coughlan Now

In 2024, the actress starred in the comedy "Seize Them!" set in the early Middle Ages and also got the role of a writer with bipolar disorder in the sitcom "Big Mood."

In May, the third season of "Bridgerton" premiered, where Nikola's character became the central figure. In an interview, Coughlan admitted that such responsibility even scared her, but she eventually managed the work.
I can't believe how much my life has changed. In 2017, I was 30 years old, working part-time at an optician's, living with my parents, and unsure if I would ever become an actress or if I was just fooling myself. Now, in 2024, I am preparing for a global press tour for one of Netflix's most famous projects.
The third season received mixed reviews from critics and didn't match the popularity of the first two. Fans were surprised by the number of explicit scenes: in one of them, Coughlan was completely nude. It turned out that the actress herself insisted on it.
Polin Carriage Scene - Bridgerton
"I specifically asked to include certain lines and moments. There's one scene where I am very naked in front of the camera. And that was my idea, my choice," the actress emphasized.

In the spring, Nikola participated in filming the 2024 Christmas special for "Doctor Who." She also took on a role in a thriller, deciding to change her usual type. In the film "Love and War," she will play a mother trying to find her little kidnapped daughter in Syria.

Interesting Facts

  • Nicola's best friend became her co-star from "Bridgerton," Claudia Jessie.
  • Coughlan could have gotten a role in "Stranger Things," but it went to Maya Hawke.
  • Due to a contract with the actress, Netflix sent her parents a version of "Bridgerton" without explicit scenes, explaining it by the strictness of Irish Catholic families.
  • In 2018, Daily Mirror criticized the dress Coughlan wore in public. The actress auctioned the outfit and donated the proceeds to a children's hospice.
  • In 2021, Vogue named Nicola one of the most stylish stars. Coughlan said it amused her close ones since she doesn't care about clothes in her everyday life.