Following in the footsteps of John Travolta, Shelly Long, Mischa Barton, David Caruso and other TV stars who left their hit shows early for big screen stardom, it has been announced today that breakout star Regé-Jean Page will not return for Season 2 of Netflix's hit Shondaland period drama Bridgerton. The Duke of Hastings is officially saying goodbye, as Regé-Jean Page lines up a few blockbuster movie prospects for the future.
Shondaland made the announcement alongside Netflix, with Regé-Jean Page himself bidding farewell on Instagram. The news was first revealed in a statement from Lady Whistledown, which stated the following.
"Dear Readers, 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. Daphne 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."
Bridgerton is based on a series of Julia Quinn novels, with The Duke of Hastings' story mostly wrapping up in the first book 'The Duke and I'. Regé-Jean Page knew his time in this sprawling story was limited, so it did not come as a shock to the actor when he was not brought back, though his character has become extremely popular with audiences.
Page admits that the short-term commitment of playing The Duke of Hastings added to the appeal of taking the job, though he did not foresee his character becoming such a breakout hit. The actor had this to say to Variety.
"It's a one-season arc. It's going to have a beginning, middle, end - 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."
The actor notes that Bridgerton was envisioned as an anthology of sorts. Each book in the series is dedicated to a different sibling's love story. And this offers ample opportunity for yet another young up and coming actor to break out and find fame as Page did with his role as Simon.
"One of the things that is different about this [romance] genre is that the audience knows the arc completes. They come in knowing that, so you can tie people in emotional knots because they have that reassurance that we're going to come out and we're going to have the marriage and the baby."
Regé-Jean Page was only ever contracted for one season of the hit Netflix drama. Simon's story with Daphne came to its conclusion, with their love story ending in the birth of their first child. Page goes onto say this about leaving the show.
"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."
Netflix reports that 82 million households have watched Bridgerton since season one debut on Christmas day. Regé-Jean Page posted a good-bye photo on Instagram, which you can check out below along with a special farewell message.
"The Ride of a Lifetime. 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. The love is real and will just keep growing"
Shonda Rhimes, who has a major deal with Netflix and oversees the popular series, also offered a goodbye message to her Duke. She had this to say about losing such a prized member of the cast.
"Remember: the Duke is never gone. He's just waiting to be binge watched all over again. #ShondalandMenOnNetflixAreForever
Bridgerton Season 2 will be following Anthony and his quest for love. The character is the oldest of the Bridgerton clan, with his story based on the second novel in Quinn's book series titled 'The Viscount Who Loved Me'. These new episodes will be introducing fan-favorite character Kate Sharma, giving actress Simone Ashley a big change to become the next breakout star from the series. Phoebe Dynevor's Daphne Bridgerton, who is now Duchess of Hastings, will return for new episodes, even if her on-screen husband, Regé-Jean Page's Simon, is never seen again. His spirit will linger close by.
Regé-Jean Page has quite a few blockbuster projects waiting in the wings. He has already wrapped filming on Netflix's biggest movie yet, starring alongside Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling in the spy thriller The Gray Man. He then moves into a starring role in the new Dungeons and Dragons movie. This initial report came from Variety.