A “Bridgerton” actor has called out Netflix and Shondaland for failing to support her during a mental health crisis.
Ruby Barker, who was a series regular during Season 1 of “Bridgerton” and guest starred in the second season of the popular romance series, spoke out about her experiences in an interview with Oxford University’s LOAF podcast (via Variety). Barker, who played Marina, said she experienced two psychotic breaks as a result of her experiences in the show: one in 2019, after Season 1 filming wrapped, and one in 2022. The actor said that she received little support from Netflix or Shondaland, with no aftercare or mental health service being offered.
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“Not a single person from Netflix, not a single person from Shondaland, since I have had two psychotic breaks from that show, have even contacted me or even emailed me to ask me if I’m okay or if I would benefit from any sort of aftercare or support,” Barker said during her interview. (A rep for “Bridgerton” didn’t immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.)
Barker explained that her mental health suffered during production on Season 1 of the show, and that her character’s isolated circumstances — an unwed woman hiding a pregnancy that eventually makes her a pariah in her Regency London society — contributed to her problems on set. She further described promoting the show during her mental health problems as a stressor that contributed.
“During filming, I was deteriorating. It was a really tormenting place for me to be because my character was very alienated, very ostracized, on her own under these horrible circumstances,” Barker said. “When I went into hospital a week after shooting ‘Bridgerton’ Season 1, it was really covered up and kept on the down-low because the show was going to be coming out. In the run-up to the show coming out, I was just coming out from hospital, my Instagram following was going up, I had all these engagements to do… My life was changing drastically overnight and yet there was still no support and there still hasn’t been any support all that time. So I was trying really, really hard to act like it was ok and that I could work and that it wasn’t a problem.”
“It’s almost like I had this metaphorical invisible gun to my head to sell this show because this show is bubbly and fun. I don’t want to come out and poo poo on that because then I’ll never work again,” she continued.
Barker previously disclosed that she had mental health struggles in a May 2022 Instagram video post where she said that she had been “struggling since ‘Bridgerton'” and that she was “really unwell for such a long time.”
“I am in hospital at the minute and I am going to be discharged soon and hopefully get to continue with my life. I was raged-filled, angry, all this intergenerational trauma bundled up inside me. I was carrying the weight of the world on my back and now I am at the point where I have a diagnosis,” she said in the post.
Watch Barker’s full interview with the LOAF podcast below.
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