Bridgerton’s executive producer Shonda Rhimes has ‘dismissed’ the idea of creative differences being the reason behind Regé-Jean Page’s exit from the hit Netflix show.
In a new interview on Tuesday, she addressed the actor’s departure from the wildly popular period drama for the first time, saying she was ‘shocked’ at the fans’ response to the news.
Yet she shut down talk that she was behind the decision, telling Vanity Fair: ‘There’s a lot of fantastically interesting talk that’s been going on, mainly cause I think people are having a hard time letting go.’
Rumours: Bridgerton’s executive producer Shonda Rhimes has ‘dismissed’ the idea of creative differences being the reason behind Regé-Jean Page’s exit from the hit Netflix show
She also dismissed claims that Regé-Jean turned down a deal for cameo appearances in Bridgerton’s second season, after it was reported that his lesser role in the next season was behind his reason to quit the show.
Reiterating that she had only made a one-season deal with the star, Shonda said she didn’t expect ‘this much of an explosion’ from the viewers.
The news that the actor, 31, would not be returning as the Duke of Hastings in the second season sparked fury, heartbreak and speculation among fans earlier this month.
Shocking: Shonda addressed Regé-Jean Page’s departure from the wildly popular period drama for the first time, saying she was ‘shocked’ at the fans’ response to the news
While Shonda said she was ‘shocked’ at the fans’ response to the news and that she didn’t expect ‘this much of an explosion’ from the viewers, she said it means she has done her job right.
She said: ‘I was really shocked [at the reaction], 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!
Shonda said that the huge reaction from fans means that she has done her job right, as it means she has cast an actor that audiences find ‘devastatingly attractive’ and become ‘incredibly overly attached to’.
‘He’s still alive’: Shonda said the reaction to his departure is usually the one she gets when she has killed a character off, saying: ‘We didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!’
A source previously claimed to Page Six that Regé-Jean’s decision to quit Bridgerton was actually sparked by tension with Shonda over the fact that his character was not going to be the ‘focal point’ of the second season.
‘Regé is not coming back to Bridgerton because of creative differences with Shonda Rhimes and her team,’ a ‘Hollywood source’ told the publication.
‘He wasn’t happy with what was planned for his character for season two, which would have kept him a player but not the focal point of the show.’
Ooh-la-la! She said that the huge reaction from fans means that she has done her job right, as it means she has cast an actor that audiences find ‘devastatingly attractive’
Regé-Jean shot to global stardom after appearing as handsome heartthrob Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, in the first season of the show, which centered on his character’s romance with leading lady Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor.
Netflix said in the first 28 days that the show was online, Bridgerton was streamed in 82 million households, and it came as little surprise when it was renewed for a second season in January.
At the time, the streaming giant revealed that the second installment of episodes would focus on Daphne’s brother, Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, and his quest to find a wife, although it was initially suggested that Daphne and Simon would still feature in the show, just not in leading roles.
Famous: Rege-Jean played Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, in the first season, which centered on his character’s romance with leading lady Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor)
But much to the disappointment of the Duke of Hasting’s most dedicated fans, Bridgerton’s social media accounts announced earlier this month that the actor would not be a part of it.
‘Dear Readers,’ the notice — written by Lady Whistledown herself — began. ‘While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings.
‘We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family.’
Shonda, meanwhile, added: ‘Remember: the Duke is never gone. He’s just waiting to be binge watched all over again.’
Shocking: The news that the Regé-Jean, 31, would not be returning as the Duke of Hastings in the second season sparked fury, heartbreak and speculation among fans earlier this month
Page Six’s source insisted that he left the show on good terms, despite his ‘creative differences’ with Shonda — who is also behind huge TV hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.
The source said Grey’s Anatomy is an example of Shonda’s determination to prioritize her shows over certain cast members, noting that if you ‘look at all the big names who have left’ the ABC hit in the past, ‘you see [that if] you don’t agree with Shonda, nobody is bigger than the show.’
The Hollywood Reporter reported that Regé-Jean ‘was offered an opportunity to return as a guest star in three to five episodes of Season 2 — at a rate of $50,000 an episode — but declined for a multitude of reasons.’
Next up: Season two will move on to another Bridgerton sibling, oldest son Anthony (left) played by Jonathan Bailey
In an interview with Variety this month, he insisted he was only ever contracted for one season of the show — and indicated that Simon and Daphne’s tidy happy ending was part of why he signed on in the first place.
He said producers had pitched him a ‘one-season arc’ with ‘a beginning, middle, [and] end’ and asked him to ‘give us a year.’
‘[I thought] “That’s interesting,” because then it felt like a limited series. I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on,’ he said.
As for the future, he added: ‘I have nothing but excitement for Bridgerton continuing to steam train off and conquer the globe.
‘But there is also value in completing these arcs and sticking the landing,’ he added.
The former Bridgerton star also has plenty of other things on his plate, having ‘been inundated with offers for other interesting and challenging leading roles.’
The award-winning actor is set to star is several other upcoming projects, including the recently announced Dungeons & Dragons flick with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Justice Smith.
Onwards: The award-winning actor is set to star is several other upcoming projects, including the recently announced Dungeons & Dragons flick
He is also currently filming the Netflix movie ‘The Gray Man,’ which will also star Ryan Gosling, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfre Woodard.
He is also a favorite to play James Bond following Daniel Craig’s departure from the franchise, but only offered a vague answer when asked about it.
‘Ah, the B word,’ he told The Mirror. ‘I think that if you are British and you do anything of note, that other people take notice of, then people will start talking about that.
‘I think that’s fairly normal and I’m flattered to be in the category of Brits that people have noticed. Nothing more — or less — than that.’
He recently won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role in Bridgerton, and was also nominated in the same category at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Award-winning: He recently won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role in Bridgerton
Meanwhile, Bridgerton seems to be following the outline set out by author Julia Quinn, the writer behind the popular romance novels on which the series is based.
Each book in the series follows the love story of a different Bridgerton sibling, starting with Daphne in ‘The Duke and I’ and moving on to Anthony in ‘The Viscount Who Loved Me’ in the second book.
Regé-Jean’s character appears only briefly in Book 2, with the upcoming season focusing on Anthony, playing by a returning Jonathan Bailey, and Kate, played by Sex Education’s Simone Ashley.
The subsequent six books follow the love stories of siblings Benedict, Colin, Eloise, Francesca, Hyacinth, and Gregory.
Love story: Meanwhile, Bridgerton seems to be following the outline set out by author who wrote the series as the subsequent books follow the love stories of siblings Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Eloise, Francesca, Hyacinth, and Gregory (pictured)