‘Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson On Benedict’s Sexual Fluidity & His “Emotional Intimacy” With Family That May Be Hindering His Love Match

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details from the entirety of Bridgerton Season 3.

While Bridgerton Season 3 tied a neat little bow on Colin and Penelope’s love story, the Netflix series left plenty for audiences to chew on as they wait for another installment.

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Both Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Francesca (Hannah Dodd) appear to be poised to continue their love stories in Season 4, which was already greenlit in 2021.

Benedict in particular was left in a bit of a flux after declining Tilly Arnold’s proposal that the two of them settle down together. After exploring his sexuality with both Tilly and Paul, Benedict thinks he needs more freedom.

Maybe he does. Or, maybe, “you could argue that he’s been exploring,” Thompson tells Deadline. “It’s lovely to explore, but also putting down some roots and choosing something or someone also has huge value and excitement.”

Perhaps that’s a lesson for Benedict in Season 4. Just like viewers, Thompson says he’s anxiously awaiting whatever the writers have in store for his character.

In the interview below, the actor broke down some of Benedict’s most confronting moments in Season 3 and weighed in on his hopes for the character’s journey toward a love match.

RELATED: ‘Bridgerton’ Showrunner Jess Brownell Talks Season 3 Finale & The Surprising Twist To Francesca’s Love Story

DEADLINE: I know many viewers had suspected Benedict may be queer. Was that something you’d thought as well over the first two seasons? What did you make of that discourse?

LUKE THOMPSON: I think it was sort of hinting at something in Season 1. I actually think what’s nice though, is that it doesn’t feel like a big … repression, and then suddenly it’s out. It’s nice, because I think it explores desire in a way that’s quite real — sometimes it’s there in the background, but it’s not quite enough to tip the balance into actually doing something about it. And sometimes it is. What’s lovely is that you feel like Benedict has always been curious and open to that idea, but, I think what’s nice is that it just feels like, this time, it was enough to really tip the balance, and I think that’s very true to how desire works.

It doesn’t feel like a huge issue of identity somehow, which I think hints to something that is more historical, Obviously, it was very repressive time for people, but in those circumstances, actually what is also true with others was that sex was sex. It’s interesting…We talked a little bit with showrunner about pansexuality, and I think that’s a word that could be used, but actually what I think it’s really lovely about the characters is that it feels really labeless, not like something that can easily be defined.

DEADLINE: It did seem like that was a freeing moment for him. At the end of the season, he tells Tilly that he isn’t ready to commit to her and there’s more to explore. What do you think that this exploration meant for him in Season 3?

THOMPSON: It’s an interesting moment, because you could argue that he’s been exploring. Actually, it was quite a confronting moment for Benedict. There comes a time in people’s lives, particularly when they’re growing up — and I do think the Bridgerton is a show about growing up in some ways and growing up through finding love or finding a relationship. Tilly chose him, but he’s maybe not quite yet ready to receive [that] fully. It’s lovely to explore, but also putting down some roots and choosing something or someone also has huge value and excitement. I think he’s still at that stage where that feels like piling down, and he just wants to be free and exploring. Well, there’s something also really exciting about doing the opposite. He left with that at the end of Season 3. He’s maybe not quite ready yet. But it’s an interesting place to leave him with something to think about.

DEADLINE: I appreciated that Benedict and Eloise had their swing set moment in Season 3 again. It’s sort of a tradition now. What do you think those scenes encapsulate about their relationship?

THOMPSON: Those scenes were the first scenes that, back for Season 1, I was sent to audition for. They were the first scenes that made me fall in love with Bridgerton and really because it feels like a perfect marriage of something quite Regency and historical but also something very modern and relatable about just a brother and sister chatting on the swing. What’s lovely about those scenes, I think, is that they crystallize the relationship between Benedict and Eloise in a way. They’re on the sidelines…and that’s where they find each other. I think that’s why they relate to each other so profoundly. They’re both in that position in terms of how they feel about the ton or society.

But what’s also interesting is that maybe they’re sort of standing in each other’s way a little bit. I think there’s a lot of emotional intimacy, that Benedict gets from his family and Eloise in particular. You sort of think, ‘Well if you’re going to find someone specific, you’re going to have to let go a little bit, or hold on a little less tightly to those relationships.’ It’s very hard, when you have such a connection, and it’s such an old connection, like brother and sister, it’s really hard to make space for other stuff. It’s a really lovely physical summary of what their relationship is, just being on the swings, on the side, just having a quiet moment. That’s where they meet and find each other similar.

DEADLINE: I read recently that you pointed out that we haven’t really seen Benedict lose his cool or “crack” yet. Have you thought, though, about what he might be like under such circumstances?

THOMPSON: That’s the magic of acting, right? I know that sounds probably a little bit strange. The answer is, I don’t know. I’ll find out. I don’t know what it will be. I haven’t played the scenes yet. It’s sort of why is the job is so fun, right? It’s a mystery to me as well. Any scenes going forward into future seasons, I don’t know what he’s going to be faced with. That’s why it’s such an exciting job. My answer is, yeah, we’ll see what happens.

DEADLINE: Benedict seemed a bit disconnected from his art this season. He doesn’t even mention it to Paul when he asks. What do you think was prompting that distance, and do you hope to see him reconnect with his art in future seasons?

THOMPSON: It’s sort of similar to what happened to him [in Season 1] in that little moment with the painter. It doesn’t really go anywhere. There’s a glimpse of something, but then it’s re-explored in Season 3. I actually feel like it’s true with a lot of things with Benedict, which is you get a little something and then it goes underground for a bit and then maybe it resurfaces. I think, with the art, it was there for a bit and it went underground. We’ll see if it resurfaces. I think it’s a very interesting side of him. I guess it’s slightly poignant now that it felt like a sort of way out of family for him, and in fact, it was something that then the family was involved in at the end of Season 2. So you can see why he’s buried it deep. There may be a strange sort of sense of shame, actually. We’ll have to see.

DEADLINE: When it comes to future seasons, Benedict will eventually get his own love story, presumably. What are you most looking forward to about that?

THOMPSON: Not to sound too strange, but he was a bit of a mystery to me. I’m as curious about it as hopefully other people are about where it will go, because I think what’s fascinating about Benedict is a character that he’s really struggling with something inside. He’s not able to be fully vulnerable about or fully committed to something. So it’ll be really exciting to see where that takes him and if he manages to crack it — and what happens when and if he does crack it.

DEADLINE: I appreciate how you speak about your character and how much reverence you give to the writers and the story. What is something you learned from Benedict this season?

THOMPSON: How freedom is its own trap, I guess, in a strange kind of way. There’s no such thing as pure freedom and that you can shape being free and being curious and being open, which are all these lovely qualities I think that the character has, but actually there is a limit to that. Actually, freedom has its own constraints, because you’re stopping yourself from actually growing up. I think that’s really interesting. We talk about this idea of wanting to be free. It’s understandable, and it’s also historical. [People] been always experimenting with how to be free within their marriage, how to be free within a couple, exploring with different people. That has always been around, and that’s wonderful. And I think that’s a really, really lovely human trait, I guess, that desire to constantly re-interrogate and re-explore. But also, there’s a limit to it. It’s not necessarily the solution, and it won’t solve the emotional mess that we are inside anymore than a more conventional approach. There is just something that’s unsolvable. I think that’s interesting. I think that’s what he’s taught me, certainly, this season.

DEADLINE: Is there anything I missed or that you wanted to add?

THOMPSON: People were mentioning that I’d almost come out, like ‘Benedict is pansexual.’ I think the thing that I found really interesting thinking about it is I’m like, ‘Well, he’s a character. He’s open to interpretation.’ I’m not going to say anything about it. I think it’s interesting. I think it’s a word that could be used. The more I think about it, the more that I think, ‘Well, that’s sort of none of my business. That’s up to other people.’ That’s just one thing that’s been floating around in my head.

DEADLINE: As I said earlier, you do seem to have quite a bit of reverence for this character.

THOMPSON: I don’t want to sound like a d*ck, but also reverence towards the audience. It’s up to you guys. I’m not gonna stand in front of it and be like, ‘This is what he is.’ Because that’s not how it works, or how acting works. I think it’s up to the audience. That’s what’s fun about it as well, because then like, everyone has different ideas, which is exciting.

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