Shonda Rhimes Didn’t Expect Reaction To Regé-Jean Page’s Bridgerton Exit



Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes admits that she hadn’t anticipated fans’ devastated reaction to Regé-Jean Page’s exit: “everybody lost their minds.”

Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes says she didn’t expect the devastated reaction fans had to Regé-Jean Page leaving the series. Based on a series of novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton follows the eight siblings of the powerful Bridgerton family as they try to find love and marriage in Regency-era England. Rhimes is known for creating and producing a number of groundbreaking shows for ABC, including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. In a coup for Netflix, Rhimes signed an exclusive development deal with the streaming giant in 2017, where her first contribution, Bridgerton, was a massive success.

Bridgerton premiered on Christmas of 2020, quickly becoming Netflix’s most-watched series—a feat that’s only since been topped by Squid Game. The first season chronicles Daphne Bridgerton’s (Phoebe Dynevor) entrée into London’s competitive marriage market. When she hatches an unlikely scheme with the playboy Duke of Hastings, Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), their fake courtship intended to ward off suitors blossoms into true love. Unfortunately for fans of Page, the couple’s happy ending signaled the end of his time on the show.

Related: Where’s Simon In Bridgerton Season 2? How It Can Explain Page’s Absence

In an interview with Variety, Rhimes admits that she hadn’t anticipated fans’ shocked reaction to Page’s exit. The Shondaland honcho adds that after writing years of will-they-won’t-they plot lines and purposefully pushing couples apart, it was refreshing to create a single-season happily ever after. But when the Page departure was announced, “everybody lost their minds.” Still, Rhimes sympathizes with viewers who fell in love with the charming actor and his chemistry with Dynevor. “People’s attachment to couples is real,” says the producer. “But I do understand their despair.” Read Rhimes’ statement on Page’s exit below.

“What I loved was we were going to create this powerful, exciting, amazing romance. And then for once in television, they were going to get to have their happily ever after versus — well, you know! In network television, you have to come up with 15 years of why a couple has to be apart…I don’t think I expected everybody to have such a reaction to it. My assumption of what people knew of romance novels was … I overestimated a great deal…People’s attachment to couples is real— I mean, I know that better than anybody. And I think that means success. But I do understand their despair.”

“And here’s why [Page will never return to Bridgerton]. He’s an enormous star now. As I like to say, the idea that we would write Regé to stand around in the background doesn’t make any sense at all to me. ‘What would he do’ is what I like to say…Rightfully, he said, ‘I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I’m good!’ And I don’t blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection.”

Though Rhimes stands by the season’s writing and its Bridgerton‘s neatly concluded love story, the producer adds that they of course tried to invite the actor back. Page politely declined, citing the “lovely…closed-ended storyline.” In any case, Rhimes recognizes that the actor’s star power has now eclipsed the scope of Bridgerton, and there’s no use sticking him in the background of season two, which will focus on the romance between Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma.

Though fans shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the return of Page, they do have plenty more Bridgerton to look forward to. Filming recently wrapped on Bridgerton season two, and showrunner Chris Van Dusen confirmed that the period drama has been picked up for a third and fourth season. Rhimes teased that Bridgerton could exceed four seasons, stretching out into at least eight—one for each of the Bridgerton siblings. Page may never again appear as a series regular, but should Bridgerton continue for eight+ seasons, fans can’t rule out that the Duke of Hastings—now a member of the Bridgerton family—won’t at least make a cameo on the hit series.

More: Bridgerton: How Anthony & Kate’s Romance Could Beat Daphne & Simon

Source: Variety

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