I don’t generally believe actors who claim to be shy. Who insist that crippling introversion is what drew them to the West End, to the BBC, to Broadway or Hollywood. Claudia Jessie, however, might just convince me. “Adjoa [Andoh], who plays Bridgerton’s Lady Danbury, said to me, ‘Are you a shouty shy person, Claudia?’” She grins and shrugs. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s what I am, aren’t I? I’m a shouty shy person.’”
Today, sitting cross-legged on a sofa, in the corner of a south London studio, Jessie has not yet done any shouting. She has, however, revealed herself to be a bag of contradictions. The breakout star of Bridgerton, in which she plays the privileged, ambitious, bookish and bonneted 17-year-old Eloise, Jessie is, in real life, a 31-year-old self-confessed “scruffbag”, a vegan Buddhist who left school at 14, and who now lives on a canal boat with her boyfriend. In Birmingham. Who appears cheerful, chatty and breezily confident, but talks openly about her panic attacks and depression. Who hasn’t bought new clothes in six years, and firmly refuses to engage with social media.