Shonda Rhimes, 51, was surprised at how devastated Bridgerton fans were after they found out Regé-Jean Page, 31, was leaving the popular series after just one thrilling season, and it’s because that was the plan all along. The talented producer, who is also known for producing hit series like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, with fellow producer Betsy Beers, sat down for a new interview with Vanity Fair to discuss the popular series, which became Netflix’s biggest to date, as well as the mark Regé-Jean left before exiting.
“I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while,” Shonda said when discussing the fan’s reaction to Regé-Jean, who played the main role of Simon Basset on the show, and his exit. “Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive! [Regé-Jean] is a powerful, amazing actor and that meant we did our job—every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance.”
“I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance,” she continued. “What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Regé-Jean do, you know what I mean? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!”
Betsy, who was also part of the interview, called the love of Regé-Jean “delightful” and complimented the actor’s real-life character. “It’s delightful that fans were so invested in his character, and he’s a wonderful actor and a terrific guy,” she said. “I just want to say that. Okay? He is.”
“He’s amazing, but that’s our job and something that Betsy and I have been doing since—well, God, has it been 20 years now?—is finding guys,” Shonda added. “I mean, hopefully ladies too, but finding men that our audiences find devastatingly attractive and they become incredibly overly attached to, and they get enraged about when we move them about in any way.”
Shonda also opened up about the rumors that Regé-Jean was offered a deal to make some cameos in season two of Bridgerton but turned it down. “We made a one-season deal with him at the beginning of season one. That was the plan: come and do one season as the duke,” she explained. “Anything else that was extra and wasn’t really the plan when we started wasn’t the plan when we finished.”
She later clarified that he was invited to return for cameos along with other season one characters outside the Bridgerton family. “So 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,” she admitted.
Regé-Jean got attention for his Bridgerton character’s love story with Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, 25. He already has a line up of films coming out soon as well, including Netflix’s The Gray Man and the Paramount feature, Dungeons and Dragons.