Shonda Rhimes Responds To Upset Over Regé-Jean Page’s Exit From Bridgerton

If you’re a fan of Netflix’s hit series Bridgerton, chances are your fandom revolved around the magnetic charm of Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, played by Rege-Jean Page. Now, as viewers of the Regency-period drama are in uproar over this leading character’s exit, executive producer Shonda Rhimes is stepping in to clear the air.

Earlier this month, Netflix and Shondaland announced the British-Zimbabwean heartthrob would not be returning for season 2, which is currently filming.

“Dearest Readers, While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings,” Lady Whistledown, the show’s anonymous gossip columnist, pens in her letter posted to Bridgerton’s official Instagram page. 

In an exclusive interview with Variety, Rhimes explains that Page’s farewell has everything to do with the eponymous novels by Julia Quinn that the show is an adaptation of. Each book centers the love lives of the Bridgerton siblings beginning with Daphne’s story, titled “The Duke & I,” which season 1 encompassed. Season 2 will now follow the romantic life of Anthony Bridgerton and the suspenseful love between Daphne and the Duke is now marginal to the plot. 

“We made a one-season deal with him at the beginning of season one,” Rhimes says in the interview, also mentioning that Page was invited for additional cameos in season 2. “That was the plan: Come and do one season as the duke. Anything else that was extra and wasn’t really the plan when we started wasn’t the plan when we finished.”

The executive producer also noted that she was shocked by the swelling response from the audience who felt attached to the character after only one season. Rhime says, “I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while. Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!”

Even though viewers may be dismayed that their newly acquainted beau has now left the screen, fortunately the Bridgerton drama is here to stay for quite a while. The show has been recently renewed by Netflix for season 3 and 4. Although production has commenced, there is no release date for season 2 as of late.

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