Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Mary Sharma From Bridgerton Season 2 Looks So Familiar

Fans have been expressing sadness that Bridgerton hunk Regé-Jean Page won't be returning for season 2 of the popular Netflix series, but don't despair. Some new characters will grace the Regency scene of Bridgerton, too, and they're sure to fill that gaping hole that Page's absence leaves behind. One of the new characters that will enter London's multicultural society as represented in the show based on Julia Quinn's books is Mary Sharma, the mother of season 2's female romantic lead. Shelley Conn, who plays Mary, has just been announced as part of the cast. 

Season 2 focuses on the romantic trials and tribulations of eldest brother Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey), who swore off love in season 1 after his affair with opera singer Siena Rosso (Sabrina Bartlett) went sour due to his desire to be a good head of the family in his late father's place. Naturally, such a condition cannot stand in a romantic series like Bridgerton, which is bringing in actress Simone Ashley as newcomer Kate Sharma to become Anthony's foil. Kate naturally has her own family, which includes her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) — the one who first catches Anthony's eye — and her mother Mary, an earl's daughter who has returned years after her marriage to a tradesman brought scandal to her family.

But Shelley Conn looks familiar, doesn't she? She's a prolific actor with more than 20 years of on-screen credits under her belt, so she's no newcomer to the entertainment scene. Here's where you might have seen her before.

Shelley Conn played Princess Pondicherry in Johnny Depp's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

In 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Conn was in a short scene designed to give Johnny Depp's WIlly Wonka some exaggerated characterization. You might remember the context, as the scene came straight from the original novel by Roald Dahl — except that the book version didn't include his wife. Conn played Princess Pondicherry in a tale that Grandpa Joe (David Kelly) tells an awed Charlie about an Indian prince who decides he wants a palace built completely out of chocolate. Only, on one very hot day, the palace begins to melt, turning the prince and princess' home into a giant, steaming (but delicious) pile of brown goo. As Grandpa Joe relates, Prince Pondicherry asked Wonka to build him a new one, but the chocolate factory owner was too busy dealing with his own problems.

Conn, who is from the English town of Basingstoke, got her start on shows like the BBC's Merseybeat. She told Exit 6 Film Festival that she "was in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for about 30 seconds, but that 30 seconds took a week to film because the sets were so big, and the turnaround time was like a day's work."

Shelley Conn played Dr. Elisabeth Shannon in the short-lived Terra Nova

In 2011, Conn starred in the short-lived Fox sci-fi series Terra Nova. In the show, she plays trauma surgeon Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, the wife of former narcotics detective Jim Shannon (Jason O'Mara). The couple have three children, which is one more than allowed them by the dictates of their society's population control rules. She and her two legal children join a human colony set up in a time period 85 million years in the past, during the Earth's Cretaceous period. In the first episode, her character helps her husband escape with their youngest child and join the Terra Nova expedition. During the course of the series, Elisabeth deals with a former flame, a fatal virus, saving an Ankylosaurus baby, and plenty of other drama. However, the Steven Spielberg-produced series only had 13 episodes — making it one of the most expensive flops in television history.

"I think it is a sci-fi fan's dream, in many ways. Yeah, you have that time travel, you have the dinosaurs, and you have all the gadgets that come with the future, but...I think there's other things in it as well. I think there's that sense of family, fun, and there's romance in there and there's all sorts of things for everybody," Conn said in an interview with On Demand Entertainment. "I still can't get my head around the idea that Steven Spielberg accepted me and my work, let alone chose me to do this job. It's a real honor."

She played a detective inspector in the BBC's Liar

In the BBC psychological thriller series Liar, which aired in 2017 and then again in 2020, Conn plays a British DI, Vanessa Harmon, investigating a case of sexual assault. The show, which aired 12 episodes, focuses on whether or not well-known surgeon Andrew Earlham (Ioan Gruffudd) date-raped a schoolteacher named Laura Nielson (Joanne Froggatt). It initially involved an ambiguously presented situation, in which viewers weren't sure who was in the right and who was the villain, with the truth being revealed over the course of one season. During the second season, the murder of the true villain is investigated. According to an interview that Conn did with ITV's Lorraine, the show had people talking about issues surrounding consent and sexual assault.

Conn told Lorraine Kelly that the moment in which Earlham asks Harmon to go for a drink was important. "Based on my response to that, was probably the reason I took this script," she said. "I just love that I got to look him in the eye." For the record, she turns him down and tells him that she believes the teacher — but unfortunately, she suffers for her bravery.