Show creator extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes is finally addressing the fans’ reaction to breakout star Regé-Jean Page’s highly talked about “Bridgerton” exit.
There has been plenty of speculations surrounding why Page, who portrayed Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings, left the popular Netflix series despite quickly becoming a fan favorite. Reports have cited his busy schedule, while others claimed creative differences between the English star and Rhimes.
During a recent interview with Variety, which was published on Tuesday, April 13, the mastermind behind shows such as “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” was joined by executive producer Betsy Beers, during which she admitted she wasn’t expecting such a significant response to the actor’s exit.
“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!” Chimes explained.
“Every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance. I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the ‘Bridgerton’ series] is a different romance.”
The 51-year-old also confirmed that Page’s character was never set to return to season 2, as previously reported. “That was the plan: come and do one season as the duke,” she explained. “Anything else that was extra and wasn’t really the plan when we started wasn’t the plan when we finished.”
She also clarified that however, “Page was invited to return for Season 2 cameos, along with a few other Season 1 characters outside the ‘Bridgerton’ family.” The actor ultimately decline the offer. “There’s a lot of fantastically interesting talk that’s been going on,” Rhimes added vaguely, “Mainly ’cause I think people are having a hard time letting go.”
Page Six reported that an unidentified source close to the situation claimed that the 31-year-old actor “wasn’t happy with what was planned for his character for Season 2, which would have kept him a player but not the focal point of the show.”
“If you look at all the big names who have left [Rhimes’ hit show] ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in the past, you see you don’t disagree with Shonda. Nobody is bigger than the show,” they added. Still, they noted that Page was leaving the show on good terms despite the static surrounding his exit.
“Bridgerton” has been renewed not only for a second season but a third and fourth as well. Each installment is slated to focus on a different “Bridgerton” sibling and their quest for romance.