Ruby Stokes may be a new face in Hollywood, but with Bridgerton and Lockwood & Co., the English actress is on track to become a household name.
Since taking on the role of Francesca Bridgerton in the Netflix mega-hit Bridgerton, the 22-year-old has steadily grown her resume. She is currently known for Una in which she played a teenage version of the title character and for playing Amelia in Starz’s Da Vinci’s Demons. Later this year, she is set to appear in the Paramount+ thriller, The Burning Girls, an adaptation of the C.J. Tudor novel of the same name. Her most recent release, another Netflix drama, Lockwood & Co., sets her center stage as the fiercely independent Lucy Carlyle, a portrayal in which Ruby’s talents truly shine.
Lockwood & Co. is the streaming giant’s latest paranormal mystery series. Adapted from the beloved young adult novels by Jonathan Stroud, the television show is set in a London plagued by a ghost epidemic, in which a spirit’s touch brings death and only children have the abilities needed to fight them. It focuses on Lucy, a young psychic investigator who joins London’s smallest ghost-hunting agency run by two teenage boys, Anthony Lockwood and George Cubbins. As the three set out to make a name for themselves, they become ever more embroiled in the underbelly of the world around them and each other’s lives. The Netflix version not only made it to number 1 in the streaming charts, but also earned a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes over its first week, although that has now dropped a few percentage points to 91% and a 93% from the audience.
Ruby Stokes and 1883’s Sydney Bolen chat about what the show’s heroine means to her, what she would like to see in a follow-up season, what she misses most about the Bridgerton set, and more.
Congratulations on Lockwood & Co! It’s great and people really seem to be enjoying it. How has the release been for you?
It’s been really lovely. I’m enjoying seeing people enjoying what we had so much fun and poured so much love into making.
It seems like a show that everybody enjoyed being on and had fun shooting. One of the things I loved about the show is the fast-paced dialogue. It really gives you a sense of how witty and smart the characters are, particularly Lucy, George and Lockwood. Was it hard for the three of you to get into that rhythm or did it just develop naturally?
When we all met and did a chemistry read, the ebb and flow of conversation came so easily. It was only something that grew as we got further into working with one another. Because we had such a shorthand onset and felt so comfortable with each other, that back and forth dialogue translated easily to the characters which is why it was able to be so quick.
It makes the show seem so relatable, which can be hard to do when you’re working with such a fantastical premise. Since the show required a lot of special effects, as an actor, did the lack of tangible scene partners affect your mindset or performance?
When we were on set, the environment that was created really helped us as actors. There were wind machines. Sometimes they put on atmospheric music or did other things to foster that feeling that we wanted the audience to get when they see the ghosts on screen. It helped us understand what the stakes were. I was acting opposite Mike Taibi who puppeteered the ghosts, which were these LED covered mannequins. He’s brilliant. So when you’re standing opposite him in a green suit and with a wind machine and music, it’s quite easy to find the character’s headspace. Other times, for instance, at one point when we were shooting Episode Three, William McGregor, the director had dancers in places as the ghosts for our eye lines, but to also create an atmosphere that took away the element of needing a man in a green suit. The production created really effective ways to have the ghosts there in spirit, you could say.
[laughs] That’s really cool. That’s really fun that there are all these other elements you could use as reference points.I did not know this until I watched the show, but Lockwood & Co. is a book series, so fingers crossed that the adaptation gets another season, if it does, what do you hope you get to explore with your character and her friends?
I really hope to see Lucy initiating fights more. Throughout the series, we see that she has this raw edge. She has a talent and towards the end she harnesses her talents for the better. I would love to see her take that further and use it even more in powerful settings and against ghosts. I want her to show other people, not just Lockwood and George, what she’s capable of. I would also love to see her fighting more. [I] personally love doing stunts. I loved working with David Forman, who is our Stunt Coordinator, and that whole team, so I’d really love to see Lucy initiating more fights and saving the men. She’s a powerful, kickass woman. She is very independent, headstrong, and opinionated. That’s what I love about her and I think she deserves to be in positions where she’s saving the men.
I agree. Speaking of stunts, what was it like learning to use the rapiers? They are pretty prevalent in the series.
We were really fortunate in that we were afforded a month and a half rehearsal period to get into not only the dialogue, but also the physical language of the show. That was so informative in world building and telling your audience what’s going on. For these characters, ghosts and rapiers are part of their everyday life, so it was important that we, as a cast, looked like it was part of our everyday movement and that we’d grown up with it as we became young adults. So, Philip d’Orléans, our swordmaster, taught me the art of sword fighting, essentially. He then built on it with me until, towards the end, he would challenge me to duel with him. I also learned how to jump off of high levels and got to do some underwater stuff. I got to do dive training at Pinewood Studios in their underwater tank. That was just incredible, I got to spend days kind of submerged in deep water.
That’s amazing. It’s lovely you were able to take that time to get into the character because it comes across on screen. If you could give Lucy one piece of advice as yourself, what would it be?
I would tell her to believe in her ability and her power. She doesn’t quite have the confidence she needs to really harness her full potential.
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She’s quite secretive with her talents this season. The series wasn’t your first Netflix rodeo. You originated the role of Francesca in Bridgerton. Although you will no longer be playing the character, I am a huge fan of that show. While I think it is obvious, you made the correct choice in taking on the role of Lucy, what do you miss most about being on the period drama?
Oh, wow. I love to hear that you’re a fan of Bridgerton.
Oh, I’m a massive Bridgerton fan. I had this big party last season where I decorated my apartment and everybody came in ball gowns. It was great.
Oh my god, really? Did you get a dress?
Yeah, I did. We all did. It was really fun.
Oh my god. That sounds brilliant. I’d love to see that. That’s the beauty of TV and film isn’t it? That it can influence and have such a cultural impact.
Exactly. It was great. I’m probably going to do it again when season three rolls around.
Yes, Do it again! The thing I miss the most about that show is the people. The people are just unmatched. They are incredible, generous, kind, hilarious and genuine. They’re great. They are just really, really good people, both the crew and the cast.
I love hearing that. Although you didn’t really get to build Francesca’s eventual arc, how do you think her and Lucy would react to one another?
I think they’re both very confident in their opinions. They don’t really give a shit what others think, but they do value people close to them and people in their inner circle. They value and love them very fiercely, whether that be Lucy with Lockwood and George or Francesca with her family. I think they’d have a lot of respect for one another.
Before you took on all these incredible projects and characters, I read that you attended the BRIT School and recently returned for their 30th anniversary event. What is something you learned there that had a big impact on you?
That’s a huge question because honestly that school shaped me. Every lesson I learned at that school was invaluable. It provides such a high level of education and an insurmountable amount of opportunities for free. I wouldn’t have had that education if it wasn’t free. It allows people from working class backgrounds to have an opportunity to explore what they love. The BRIT school values everyone as individuals. Every teacher and every staff member is incredible and so encouraging. They go above and beyond to make you feel valued and encouraged to express yourself, and to work hard at what you love. They really gave me the love and confidence to apply myself. I cannot speak highly enough about that school. It’s unreal.
That’s amazing. I didn’t know it was free. That’s so cool. I love that. Correct me if I am wrong, but based on your Instagram you seem to be a big John Hughes and Molly Ringwald fan?
If they were remaking one of those films and you got to be a part of it, which one would you choose and who would you want to play?
Oh my god. All of them and everyone. [laughs] Definitely Andie in Pretty in Pink. I just love Molly Ringwald. My mom and I would sit down and watch Pretty in Pink, and I would just be in awe of her, especially the scene where she’s in her dress. I love Duckie as well. He’s so cool. Pink is my favorite color too. I know that’s super random. [both laugh] To me, everything about that movie is just perfect. I love John Hughes films and the memories they hold from watching them was my mom. I hold them so close to my heart.
Amazing. You never know, maybe you’ll get the chance. Remakes are all the rage these days.
Finally, to bring us back to Lockwood & Co., I must know. Do you believe in ghosts?
If a ghost popped up in front of me and said hello then I’d be a firm believer. But I think I’m just absolutely paranoid of noises and I think perhaps that holds the belief within me that there is something else there. [laughs]
What would you do if all the sudden their existence was fact and some were dangerous like in the show?
Do rapiers exist?
I’m sure we would come up with some sort of defense mechanism. I hope that we would.
I’d like to think that I could be pretty kick ass like Lucy and fight the ghosts with swords and have some flair and edge to the way I move and my dynamics. But when your body goes into fight or flight you never really know what’s going to happen.
Good for you. Personally I would want absolutely nothing to do with them.
I used to do circus training. I actually stopped it before we started filming, but I would do flying trapeze, silks and tight wire. I like to think that would be useful, that I could end up doing some parkour and swinging on poles and knocking out these ghosts, but I would probably end up peeking out my window to see if they’re lurking. [laughs]
Lockwood & Co. is streaming now on Netflix.
Interview Sydney Bolen
Styling Holly White
Hair Ben Talbott
Makeup Amanda Grossman
Header image credits:
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