James Phoon | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Among its many other pleasures, Netflix‘s Regency Era hit Bridgerton has a habit over introducing us to absolute dreamboats to crush on.

The inaugural season featured the handsome Regé-Jean Page, season two gave the spotlight to out heartthrob Jonathan Bailey, and now we have a new guy to obsess over: James Phoon.

The queer, British and East-Asian actor joins the cast in season three as Harry Dankworth, the sweet, silly, and slightly naive new husband to Prudence Featherington (Bessie Carter), whose younger sister Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) is at the center of the drama this time around.

In many ways, the dashing but dopey Dankworth is Bridgerton‘s newest resident himbo, and Phoon does a fantastic job delivering some comic relief while still giving the character dimension.

Image Credit: ‘Bridgerton,’ Netflix

Bridgerton may be Phoon’s biggest breakthrough to date, but the young actor has been very busy the past few years. For one, he makes quite the impression in The BBC and Hulu’s dark and campy whodunit series Wreck, and he can currently be seen in the play Underdog: The Other Other Brontë at the National Theatre in London.

And while a number of his previous credits are voice roles—including video games like Rise Of The Ronin, animated series like Dodo, and Doctor Who; The Lost Stories—we’re thrilled he’s getting opportunities to step in front of the camera, because that smile deserves to be seen!

In a way, Phoon follows in Bailey’s footsteps on Bridgerton—as an out, gay actor playing straight in the world of the show—highlighting how the industry is slowly but surely becoming more open-minded about casting LGBTQ+ talent, and not just in queer roles.

“It’s a balance of both sides that you need,” the actors says, reflecting on the opportunity with Pink News. “There needs to be stories that have characters that are specifically queer, or specifically of the global majority, and that’s really important. But I also think it’s important to have stories where that’s not the focus, and where an actor doesn’t need to fit the reality of their character.”

“Why does your sexuality have to match [you character]?,” Phoon continues. “It’s just one fragment of who we are as people, it’s not our whole identity. Not all gay people are the same. I think the increasing representation is so important.”

Hear, hear James! Well said.

Image Credit: ‘Bridgerton,’ Netflix

Notably, this season of Bridgerton is set to have some queer representation on screen, too, following in the footsteps of prequel spin-off Queen Charlotte, which dedicated time to the love story between royal secretaries Reynolds and Brimsley.

Showrunner Jess Bromwell recently told PRIDE that the new season will introduce a queer storyline, though she remained mum about who that might include, or how that will play out over the course of the series.

Echoing the excitement of the show’s hefty gay fanbase, Phoon is eager to see where things are headed and weighs in on why it feels so important to Bridgerton—even it’s not entirely realistic to the era the drama is set in:

“Although it’s in fictional Britain, and the representation we see isn’t exactly the way that Britain was in the 1800s, these people did exist in terms of people of different races, people of different gender identities, people of different sexualities,” he says to Pink News. “Just because we haven’t heard about them before, and because the story and the spotlight hasn’t been on them, it doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, it just means we didn’t know about them.”

Especially as someone of Chinese ancestry, Phoon notes it didn’t always feel like there was a place for him in period dramas set in the U.K. But, in fact, there’s record of Chinese people living in England at the time—the first Chinese man received British citizenship in 1805—so it’s not like Bridgerton has an entirely unreleastic view of the world.

“There’s a lot of conversation today about wokeness and modern diversity,” Phoon continues, “and I think it can be easy for people to think that these are all really new concepts, but they’re not—they’re human concepts that are innate in us.”

The first four episodes of Bridgerton Season 3 are streaming right now, so don’t forgot to tune in to be charmed by James Phoon—and see how the highly anticipated queer stroyline begins to develop. Season 3, Part 2 will arrive next month, on June 13.

In the meantime, scroll down for more of our favorite photos from Phoon’s Instagram and swoon right along with us!

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