On April 2 Bridgerton fans were shocked when news broke that Regé-Jean Page had stepped down from the series – and now the series’ executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, has weighed in.
In a Vanity Fair piece on Tuesday, she joined fellow executive producer Betsy Beers, noting that the reaction is not the one she expected. “I was really shocked, because that usually happens when I have killed someone who has been around for a while. As if we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive! “she said.” Every season our job is to find the right people and put together this incredible, world-changing romance. I don’t know if I expected so much from an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is another romance. “
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The response made Rhimes wonder: What would the actor’s character, Duke of Hastings Simon Bassett, do if he returned for season 2, in addition to his romantic interest, Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne Bridgerton? (Dynevor will in fact return in the upcoming season.) “What would be the sequel to this combo?” she said. “We’ve given them happily ever after! And now we have another couple coming up. And so yeah, I was like, ho! “
In the interview, the producer noted that over the course of her last 20 years in show business, she has often had to kill popular characters. ‘That’s our job … is to find boys. I mean, hopefully ladies too, but finding men who our audiences find devastatingly attractive and become incredibly overly attached to, ”said the founder of Shondaland, who is also behind series like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, “And they get furious … if we move them in any way.”
The news of Page’s departure was first revealed on Netflix’s Twitter account, in the form of a letter written by Bridgerton Lady Whistledown’s character. After the announcement, Rhimes wrote on Instagram: “Remember, the Duke is never gone. He’s just waiting to be watched all over again. #ShondalandMenOnNetflixAreForever. “
While Page’s turn on the period drama pushed him onto the world stage, as an actor to watch, his character was never supposed to appear on the series after Season 1 ended, according to sources familiar with the matter. Deadline learns that, given Page’s massive popularity, an attempt was made to bring the actor back for a guest star in Season 2, but the deal never materialized. Still, the character will be referenced in the series in the future.
Film directed by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton is based on a series of novels by Julia Quinn. Looking at wealth, lust and betrayal in the context of Regency-era England through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family, the series was recently renewed for a third and fourth season.
With the show in the rearview mirror, Page has already lined up his next projects. He will star opposite Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in the Joe and Anthony Russo action thriller The gray man, and will also appear in Dungeons and Dragons, from directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.