LUKE NEWTON and Nicola Coughlan in a scene from Season 3 of Bridgerton.

LOS ANGELES — When Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton were preparing to film Season 3 of the regency era romance series Bridgerton, they knew they were going from supporting characters to main characters. And it was scary.

Ms. Coughlan remembers feeling relaxed while watching the couples from the first two seasons perform because the biggest pressure wasn’t on her yet.

“As supporting actors you can go, ‘I’ll do my little bit but it doesn’t really matter because the main story is over there,’” she told Reuters.

However, that was no longer the case when she and Mr. Newton stepped forward as the leading couple for the third season of the Emmy-nominated show.

“For us to then go into being the main story, I think it overwhelms us still,” said the Irish actress.

Bridgerton, developed by Shonda Rhimes’ television production company Shondaland and Netflix, follows the romantic journeys of the Bridgerton family as they navigate London’s ruthless marriage market.

Set in the early 1800s, the story focuses on the scandals and successes of the social season as young marriageable nobility looks for love.

Season 3, which arrives on the streaming platform on Thursday, follows the highly anticipated friends-to-lovers romantic arc between characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, played by Coughlan and Newton.

“The friends-to-lover’s trope, I think a lot of people resonate with that and have experienced that,” said Newton.

“I think that’s why people are really passionate and excited for the season,” he added.

Similarly, the show’s new showrunner for Season 3, Jess Brownell, feels like the romance between Colin and Pen is a huge draw for viewers this time around.

“Because it’s a friends-to-lovers story, it naturally lends itself to a bit more humor, lightness, of playfulness, and a familiarity,” said Ms. Brownell, who follows in series creator Chris Van Dusen’s footsteps.

“I think that humor especially is something that really speaks to both Nicola and Luke’s strength.”

While the book series the show is based on by author Julia Quinn features a different love story before getting to Pen and Colin’s, Ms. Brownell felt like TV audiences would appreciate a unique chronological order.

“Pen and Colin have been on our screens now for two seasons. We know them and we care about them,” Ms. Brownell said.

“It felt like it was time to break out of the pattern of Colin being in the dark about Pen’s feelings for him. We wanted to twist things in a different direction and make him work for Pen’s affections,” she added. — Reuters