Bridgerton boss invited Regé-Jean Page to return after exit backlash

The breakout star will not play a part in the second season of Netflix's hit period drama.

Bridgerton Simon and Daphne

There’s no doubting that Regé-Jean Page was the big breakout star from the first season of Bridgerton – and so the news that he wouldn’t return for the second run was greeted with a certain degree of despair from fans.

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And the show’s boss Shonda Rhimes has now revealed that the backlash following his exit was so strong that she briefly considered inviting him back.

According to a recent interview with Variety, Rhimes said that when “everybody lost their minds” following the news, she asked him whether he’d want to be brought back for the second season.

“Rightfully, he said, ‘I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I’m good!’” she explained. “And I don’t blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection.”

Page played Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, in the first run of the series and it was always intended that he would appear only in the first season.

As Rhimes explained, the show plans to tell a different romance story of a different couple each season, focusing on each of the eight Bridgerton siblings in turn – as was the case in Julia Quinn’s source novels.

And Rhimes said that giving Simon and Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) a happy ending was a relief after a career in which she has often had to split popular couples up.

“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,” she explained.

Bridgerton debuted on Netflix on Christmas Day 2020 and quickly became the biggest show in the streamer’s history, although it has since been overtaken by global sensation Squid Game.

White's Gentleman's Club in Bridgerton
Netflix

A second season was officially confirmed in January 2021, with filming then commencing in spring – although no date has yet been given for the release of the follow-up series.

Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton will be the main star of the second season, with Sex Education star Simone Ashley joining the cast as his potential bride Kate Sharma.

Meanwhile, newcomer Charithra Chandran takes on the role of Kate’s sister Edwina, Shelley Conn will play the girls’ mother Lady Mary Sharma, and Calam Lynch will play rebellious printer’s assistant Theo Sharpe.

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As for Page, he’s recently filmed two upcoming American blockbusters, The Gray Man and Dungeons & Dragons, and has also been heavily linked as a possible successor to Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Bridgerton season one is streaming now on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.