It’s 20 minutes after our interview is scheduled to begin, the very first of the day, and Ruby Barker is nowhere to be seen. Where could the Bridgerton star be? If Lady Whistledown was doing this interview, her rumour mill would be whirring by now. A scandalous liaison with a society rake? An overnight elopement?
Actually, the truth is far less Netflix-worthy. A terribly apologetic Ruby finally limps in, having struggled to make her way through the sprawling grounds of the stately Beaverbrook hotel that’s hosting us.
“My back’s gone,” she explains, settling gingerly onto the suite’s antique sofa. “I slept on it wrong last night. This morning I woke up and I was like Regina George in Mean Girls after she got hit by a bus.”
It’s not quite the glamorous entrance we’ve come to expect from Ruby, or rather her Bridgerton character. As Miss Marina Thompson, she was a dazzling debutante hiding a pregnancy beneath her corset in season one, and we’re about to pick up her next chapter as the Netflix blockbuster returns on 25 March. Hopefully we’ll get to find out whether Marina has her happy ever after – which may help us get over the disappointment of heart-throb Regé-Jean Page, aka the Duke of Hastings, not returning for series two.
We have to wait a little while longer to discover her fate, but Ruby is able to lift the lid on a few things in the meantime. First, she’s been revealed as the new Müllerlight girl, taking over yoghurt-licking duties from the likes of Nicole Scherzinger. The 25-year-old actress is also candid about her own personal costume dramas on the set of Bridgerton and is proud to break a few beauty taboos along the way…
Hi Ruby. Bridgerton is famously raunchy. Would you feel confident if it was your turn to be romping on a four-poster?
I don’t know. It completely depends on the context of the situation, and if I feel it’s necessary. Performing simulated sex is not something that I’m like “Uh, NO!” If I feel it’s justified, and it’s something I want to do and feel comfortable about, then OK. But it’s got to be for the right reasons. At the end of the day, I’m not interested in titillating someone’s nan while she’s just trying to eat her beans for dinner!
Quite! Are the costumes very tight and uncomfortable?
They are made to measure so there is an element of comfort, but I would say the biggest problem for me was how hot it was that summer. It was absolutely roasting and obviously
I had these normal anxieties [about filming], and when I get anxious I sweat. That is completely natural of course, but what makes it worse is realising that actually this isn’t like a normal amount of sweating. I have something called hyperhidrosis, so I would then get anxious about that and I’d sweat more. I actually started to sweat through the Bridgerton costume so for the whole show I had to line my armpits with sanitary towels so I wouldn’t destroy the costumes. That’s how bad it was.
Have you suffered with hyperhidrosis for long?
When I was at school I realised that I was quite an anxious, sweaty kid, but it progressively got more and more extreme when my anxiety and my stress levels were high. Sweating is completely normal but I think it’s something that we can get embarrassed about, especially as women. I do want to tell the world I am a sweaty Betty. It’s confirmed!
Have you looked into any treatment for the condition?
I did try Botox in my armpits. I had a really important business meeting at a nice restaurant once, and when I popped to the bathroom I looked in the mirror and there were sweat patches literally down to my hips. That’s when I thought, “I need to do something about this,” so I went to Harley Street and got my armpits done. Yes it does work but I haven’t had it topped up because it’s just so expensive.
Do you spend a long time in the make-up chair for a day of filming as Marina?
Yes, hours – at least two or three. I have to get my tattoos covered up a lot of the time and that takes about 40 minutes. It’s kind of funny – I’m playing this Regency girl and I’ve got all these tats hidden away. I manage to get away with it sometimes by wearing long princess gloves for all those ballroom scenes.
Is anything banned, beauty-wise, when you’re filming a period drama?
Basically, we were just told to leave our faces alone, and not mess around with our eyebrows or anything. I still haven’t had my eyebrows done since Bridgerton actually. I’ve just left them to go wild. My advice would be never to let anyone touch your eyebrows unless you really trust them. A few years ago, I asked to get a little tidy up and came out with pencil-thin eyebrows. Oh God how I cried. They took so long to grow back.
Do you have to be careful with your skin because of heavy screen make-up?
It does get quite sensitive. I try not to wear make-up at all when I’m not on the job. I use a variety of products, but I’d say the most important thing is I’ve had a skincare routine since I was 11. I cleanse, tone and moisturise, and I exfoliate at least once a week.
Do you think the beauty industry is doing a better job of catering for diversity now?
Yeah, Rihanna has completely changed the game with Fenty – it’s amazing. But MAC has always been cool. It’s always had a real range of colours for different complexions. I’ve just been introduced to the most amazing black make-up artist, Pat McGrath. She provided a lot of the make-up for Bridgerton series two and that’s how I was introduced to her brand.
Oh my God, I was so happy with that.
You’re the new face of Müllerlight. Does that fit with your attitude to health?
It does. I try my best to eat healthily, but also have things I enjoy. I love the Greek-style Luscious Lemon flavour. I try to be an active, healthy person – I really enjoy physical exercise. I enjoy bouldering and trekking and stuff like that. I’m not perfect. I’m not The Rock by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m working towards it, you know [laughs].
Is there anything you do to get fit for filming?
The costumes are made to measure. There’s an army of costume makers that spend lots of time making a dress fit your body, so you’ve got to try to stay the same size [for that series]. There’s no way I’d fit into my season one stuff now though. I have put on weight since then, but I think that’s perfectly OK, and that’s in keeping with my character Marina because she’s pregnant. She’s going to put on some healthy weight, and I’m much happier at the size I am now. I did put on a bit during lockdown, then I had to really push myself to get active.
Ruby is the new Müllerlight ambassador. Müllerlight Greek-Style Lemon is fat free,has no added sugar, and is high in protein, meaning you truly can have it all.
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