- Bridgerton -Why Did Regé Jean Page Leave 'Bridgerton'? Here Are All The Rumors
Today, Bridgerton fans don't burn; they feel burned. Because Netflix announced — via a Lady Whistledown release, natch — that Simon will not be appearing in Season 2 of the hit series. While not surprising for readers of the Julia Quinn series, which leaves Simon and Daphne's story behind after the first book, it's a shock for everyone who assumed the Duke of Hastings, Bridgerton's break-out character, would be a mainstay on the series. But why did Regé Jean Page leave Bridgerton?
As with with Anthony-focused Season 2 of the series, there are theories. So let's go through them, shall we, dear, angry reader?
Regé Chose To Leave Bridgerton
This is not so much a theory, as a likely fact — despite being surrounded by young, budding talent, the actor was the biggest break-out of the first season, as evidenced by, well, everything on this Etsy page and chatter throughout the industry. Bridgerton's executive producer, Shonda Rhimes herself wrote about Page in the TIME100 Next List, "Few actors craft their moments so beautifully — or steal our attention so quickly,"
She also wrote, it should be noted, that, "as evidenced by his performance in Bridgerton, Regé is a singular talent whose prospects are limitless. Today, he may be our duke. By tomorrow… not even I can dream big enough to imagine." Given Regé's rapidly rising star, it would seem a backward step in his career to return to the series that made him famous. Beloved as Bridgerton may be, it could possibly pigeonhole the actor into period dramas, no matter his range.
Another piece of evidence that Page left willingly? As of January, series creator Chris Van Dusen said about the Duke and Daphne: "They are now of course the Duke and Duchess of Hastings but in my mind they will always be Bridgertons and I think they will always be part of the show."
Anyone who burns for the Duke like that would not fire the Duke. No, this seems to be Page's decision.
He's Too Big For Bridgerton
It's hard to believe. After all, the series dominated all pop culture conversation following its December release (streamed 82 million times), and Season 2 continues to make headlines as Anthony's storyline comes into focus. How can anything be bigger than Bridgerton? But, given the second season of the series will focus on the Bridgerton brother, it would seem a strange career choice for Page to trade his leading man status for a supporting role.
Particularly when Hollywood is calling. Page not only showed off his comedy chops by appearing in a well-received Saturday Night Live episode earlier this year, but he's starring alongside matinee idols Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in Netflix's $200 million production of The Gray Man. What's more, he scored the leading role in Warner Bros.'s upcoming Dungeons & Dragons feature. Not bad for an actor whose entire filmography fits within one browser window.
When it comes to Page, the iron is hot. Staying with Bridgerton could earn him loyalty points, sure, but the shrewdest actors (see: Speed's Keanu Reeves and Independence Day's Will Smith) know when to tap out.
He Can't Do Bridgerton, Because Bond... James Bond
Blame Bond. At least, that's what some fans believe. Ever since he made the ladies of Bridgerton faint with his British accent, blogs have been begging or him to shake up the longtime movie franchise and star as the famous spy. And, in turn, he's become the overwhelming favorite, occupying more 007 conversation than Idris Elba or Tom Hiddleston, actors that previously seemed like shoo-ins for the role.
So, could Page's Bridgerton absence be less related to his status in Hollywood, and more to his schedule in Hollywood? Is it possible that he just couldn't make both work?
The theory would be easier to believe if Page had actually scored the role. Though it's too early to count him out (and, in fact, the Bond conversation has only increased in the hours since his Bridgerton departure was announced), the actor himself minimized the rumors on The Tonight Show, saying, "If you're a Brit, and you do something of any kind of renown that people regard well, then people start saying the 'B' word. It's like a merit badge. You get the 'B' word merit badge."
That said, he didn't exactly downplay them either when he posted the following photo on his Twitter in December:
He Left After Contract Negotiations Fell Through
If this theory's true, it's unlikely that we get answers immediately. (Wait to find out about it in the inevitable Vanity Fair 10-year oral history of Bridgerton.) But the rumors have already hit Hollywood gossip Instagram account Deux Mois, which receives blind items hourly from fans and studio executives alike. (Think of it as a Lady Whistledown you can double-tap.)
Following the news that Page was leaving, the account posted the following exchange:
If the intel is true, then the answer behind his leaving is simple: Netflix gave him an offer he could refuse.
Whether this means the series is locking in the rest of the cast as the item indicates — well, it's a bad Friday to be a Bridgerton agent, isn't it?
It's All Ego
Le gasp! Deux Mois also brought the drama with another submission from a follower, which hinted that Bridgerton not only heightened Page's star status, but also his ego. (The item goes as far as to highlight that money was, in fact, not an issue.)
To go against Netflix's wishes is one thing; to go against Shondaland's wishes? Well, such a decision could in fact be more of a gamble than one would think.
But, then again, Page has had nothing but fond things to say about his experience on the series, even when announcing his own departure on his Instagram.
And, if you look at the comments on that Instagram post, one should stick out:
Are those the words of a brand snubbed by ego? Unlikely.
This Was Always The Plan
Though this writer and Bridgerton fan would conclude that the answer is likely (D) All Of The Above (or, at least, most — I would never say the man who cries to "Drivers License" has an ego), we could also consult the words of the actor himself, who hinted that this was the plan all along.
As he told Variety in an exclusive statement:
“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.”
He elaborated that this was a trope of the romance genre, loved by fans who understand that "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," he said.
(I see your rationale, René, and raise you Outlander. The arc never completes.)
Though it doesn't make the burn sting any less, Bridgerton fans will have a new obsession to focus on during Season 2: Jonathan Bailey, the actor who plays the dastardly handsome and infuriating Anthony. It's a good thing he's not going anywhere anytime soon — he is a Bridgerton, after all.