If you managed to watch Netflix’s latest supernatural series Lockwood & Co., you might have found yourself wondering, “Hey, haven’t I seen the actress playing Lucy Carlyle before?” That’s because Lockwood & Co. star Ruby Stokes has appeared in one of Netflix’s most massive international hits, Bridgerton. Stokes played younger Bridgerton sister Francesca in Seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton. And if that doesn’t ring a bell, it could be because Francesca Bridgerton is the most mysterious of the Bridgerton brood. She is off “visiting an aunt” for most of Bridgerton Season 1 and suddenly disappears midway through Season 2.
In fact, Ruby Stokes left Bridgerton the middle of Season 2 specifically to star in Netflix’s Lockwood & Co. Last May, it was announced that Stokes would be leaving the show altogether and that Anatomy of a Scandal standout Hannah Dodd would be stepping into Francesca’s Regency-era gowns.
As a Bridgerton fan, I thought this recasting made creative sense at the time. In the books, Francesca operates on the periphery of a lot of the family’s drama. She’s the one “quiet” Bridgerton kid who is secretly containing a tempest of passion beneath her sophisticated and serene exterior. It’s not until author Julia Quinn finally tackles Francesca’s story — which is full of heartache, grief, and some of the most randy sex scenes in the whole series — that we learn what her whole deal is. By recasting the Stokes, who exudes a youthful innocence, with Dodd, whose “type” is slyer and more seductive, it was a sign that the show was finally going to lay the seeds of Francesca’s transition from background Bridgerton sibling to future romantic lead.
But what did this recast mean for Miss Ruby Stokes? Did trading a supporting gig in a mega hit for a leading lady role in an untested YA thriller make sense for the actress? Or was she getting a severe downgrade?
Now that Lockwood & Co. is out, it’s clear that Ruby Stokes (and her proverbial “people”) made the right gamble. Playing the plucky and heroic Lucy Carlyle is a massive professional step up for Stokes over being relegated to the backdrop of Bridgerton. Lockwood & Co. is a sharp, pulpy addition to Netflix’s scattershot YA library. It’s got clever scripting, a sinister vibe, and three incredibly charming leads in Stokes and co-stars Cameron Chapman and Ali Hadji-Heshmati.
Besides Lockwood & Co. being good, the role of Lucy Carlyle fits Stokes way better than Francesca Bridgerton. As Lucy, Stokes gets to run the gamut of feisty to vulnerable, supernaturally powerful to emotionally broken. She proves she’s got the talent to be a charismatic leading lady in other projects and shows she can spark incendiary chemistry with her fellow actors. (Watching Stokes and Chapman size each other up in early episodes ironically gives Bridgerton levels of unabashed sexual tension.)
So, yeah, the Ruby Stokes/Hannah Dodd Francesca Bridgerton recast seems to be a win-win so far for all parties. Stokes got the chance to be the heroine of her own potential Netflix hit, while leaving behind a franchise that didn’t seem to know what to do with her talents.
Lockwood & Co. rules and Ruby Stokes rules in it.
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