Shonda Rhimes Responded to the Outrage Over Regé-Jean Page Leaving ‘Bridgerton’
"Like, we didn't kill him, he's still alive!"
Those who had already read the Bridgerton novels by Julia Quinn saw it coming. But for the rest of us, Regé-Jean Page's departure from the Netflix adaptation was an utter shock. Page, who played Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, in the first season of Bridgerton, had only ever signed onto Season 1, knowing full and well that Season 2 would revolve around a new romantic pairing (Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma). And having pretty much wrapped up Simon and Daphne's (Phoebe Dynevor) storyline by the final episode, producer Shonda Rhimes was taken aback with the fan upset when Page's departure was formally announced.
"I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I've killed off somebody that's been around for a while," she said in an April 13th Vanity Fair interview. "Like, we didn't kill him, he's still alive!"
She continued, "I don't know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance. What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Regé-Jean do, you know what I mean? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!"
However, Rhimes recognizes that the blowback from Page's departure points at a job well done regarding casting. She noted, "[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."
Her producing partner, Betsy Beers, added to the Vanity Fair conversation: "It's delightful that fans were so invested in his character, and he's a wonderful actor and a terrific guy."
Rhimes said that finding "terrific guys" is part of their job. "[That's] something that Betsy and I have been doing since—well, God, has it been 20 years now?—is finding guys...finding men that our audiences find devastatingly attractive and they become incredibly overly attached to, and they get enraged about when we move them about in any way."
Well, you two deserve a raise, then. Our hearts will remain shattered until Rhimes and Beers do their job once again and find us yet another heartthrob to live in our minds rent-free.