Welcome to the Ton! While Ruby Stokes left midway through Bridgerton season 2 amid other commitments, the Netflix series has officially cast another star to take over the sixth sibling’s role.
Hannah Dodd was announced as the new Francesca Bridgerton on Thursday, May 12, per a Deadline report before the regency drama confirmed the news.
“The only thing the Ton loves more than a scandal is a celebration. Do joyously welcome the newest member to the Bridgerton family,” Bridgerton’s official Twitter page wrote on Thursday, referring to the 26-year-old actress’ casting.
During the first two seasons of the Netflix hit, the Lockwood & Co star briefly portrayed Francesca on the screen. Amid sister Daphne’s (played by Phoebe Dynevor) debut in the social scene, Francesca left London to spend time with the family’s aunt and uncle in Bath, England. Stokes’ Francesca briefly returned in season 2 in the first three episodes.
“I love Francesca, but we lost her midway through Season 2,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen told TVLine in March, noting that the 21-year-old England native had a scheduling conflict during production. “After exhausting all other options, she unfortunately had to come out due to reasons beyond our control. Perhaps Season 3 will be the charm.”
The TV series, based on Julia Quinn’s historical romance series of the same name, premiered in December 2020 and followed the love lives of each of the Bridgerton siblings. While season 1 highlighted Daphne’s connection with the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), season 2 saw Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) fall in love with Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) much like the Duke and I and The Viscount Who Loved Me novels, respectively. While the show has already been renewed for seasons 3 and 4, the creative team has not divulged which love story will be next.
“There’s 8 Bridgerton siblings so there are eight books. We are definitely planning on following each one of their romantic stories,” executive producer Shonda Rhimes told Entertainment Tonight earlier this year. “We are not necessarily going in order. But we are going to be seeing each of the siblings and their story.”
Francesca’s story plays out in Quinn’s sixth novel in the series: When He Was Wicked. Per the book description, the sixth Bridgerton sibling marries John Stirling, the 8th Earl of Kilmartin in Scotland. However, shortly after their nuptials, John died and his title is passed to a cousin: Michael Stirling. Unbeknownst to Francesca, Michael has secretly been enamored with his late cousin’s spouse. It has yet to be revealed how Francesca’s book relates to the series.
While the show’s been tight-lipped about season 3, Dodd has been candid about how she chooses acting roles in general.
“It’s funny, at the beginning, when I first started acting, I really preferred playing characters that were sort of closer to myself,” the Find Me in Paris alum told Marie Claire UK in March 2021. “I thought that was the key to doing well, being able to understand them fully and them being quite like you. But, as I’ve gone on, I now love differences! I love that those characters are so different and having to work out the gaps and why they are the way that they are.”
Scroll below to meet the new Francesca: