When the news broke that Hollywood heartthrob Regé-Jean Page would not return to Netflix’s Bridgerton, fans of the series were not only heartbroken but downright disappointed.
In a Vanity Fair interview, Shonda Rhimes spoke about her surprise over the massive backlash from fans.
“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!” the series’ executive producer exclaimed. “[Regé-Jean] is a powerful, amazing actor and that meant we did our job— every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance.”
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Page’s departure was largely credited to the way the series, based on Julia Quinn’s romance novels of the same name, is framed, where one couple is at the forefront of the plot.
“The concept is that every season, there’s a couple and that couple is the hot couple that you’re falling in love with, right?” Rhimes said. “And there are eight Bridgertons. So by the time you get to [prepubescent] Hyacinth — oh, dear God, she’ll be grown up by then. Obviously, we’re not going to match up a child! We’ll grow Hyacinth up and you’ll see her story too.”
Rhimes spoke about how it’s her “job” to find actors who “audiences find devastatingly attractive” that they eventually “become incredibly overly attached to and they get enraged about when we move them about in any way.”
Entertainment Weekly reports Page, who played Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, was invited back for season two cameos with a $50,000 per episode paycheck. He allegedly declined.
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Page, who recently hosted Saturday Night Live, addressed his departure on Instagram on April 2 after one season.
Page’s leading lady, Phoebe Dynevor, will return according to TV Line, given that “Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer.”
The official Bridgerton Twitter announced that the breakout hit was already renewed for a third and fourth season, even before the second season began filming.