Fans across the world were left flabbergasted when Regé-Jean Page (AKA Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings) announced that he would not be returning to the Netflix hit, Bridgerton.
“The ride of a life time. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be your Duke. Joining this family – not just on screen, but off screen too. Our incredibly creative and generous cast, crew, outstanding fans – it’s all been beyond anything I could have imagined,” Page wrote on Instagram.
“The love is real and will just keep growing.”
In an interview with Variety, Page explained: “It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end—give us a year.”
When told of the initial pitch by the Shondaland producer, he said: “[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.”
Netflix also went on to explain that each season of ‘Bridgerton’ will focus on a different member of the family’s quest to find love. Next season’s subject? Lord Anthony Bridgerton.
Despite Page’s absence, the streaming giant has confirmed that his on-screen wife Daphne (Phoebe Dyvenor) will be returning for the next season.
She will remain “a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer—more intrigue and romance than my readers may be able to bear.”
Let’s be real here – it makes more sense for the Duke to make an appearance in the next season if his wife does! Surely series creator Chris Van Dusen could have found a way to keep the relationship drama brewing.
Could this indicate that Page was partially responsible for his own departure?
The Los Angeles Times shares a similar opinion, suggesting that the actor’s “one-year deal may be the latest sign of how talent deals are shifting amid the entertainment industry’s brisk shift to streaming.”
Darrell Miller, an attorney at Fox Rothschild – who works on contracts for actors, producers and directors – admitted to the publication that Page’s exit was an “extremely unique” situation.
“It is a cardinal rule to have options on the lead actors in a series,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
“This situation is extremely unique and it could blow up the show and turn off many female viewers who loyally watched Season 1 because of Regé-Jean Page.”
The “instant fame” that came with the show would have provided Page with new opportunities that may have conflicted with shooting another season. There’s rumours that these “new opportunities” may include a part in Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ franchise, and you guessed it, James Bond.
“We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family,” Netflix wrote in a statement.