Shonda Rhimes Shocked by Bridgerton Fans' Reactions to Regé-Jean Page's Exit: 'We Didn't Kill Him'
Regé-Jean Page confirmed his departure from Bridgerton on April 2 after just one season
"I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I've killed off somebody that's been around for a while. Like, we didn't kill him, he's still alive," the TV mogul, 51, told Vanity Fair on Tuesday. "[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."
She continued, "I don't know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance. 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!'"
Rhimes noted that it's her "job" to find men who "audiences find devastatingly attractive" that they eventually "become incredibly overly attached to and they get enraged about when we move them about in any way."
Page, 31, became a breakout star after playing Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings on the acclaimed Netflix series. However, on April 2, the British actor confirmed that he was leaving the series after just one season.
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"The ride of a life time," he wrote via Instagram, following an announcement made on the show's respective social media pages. "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."
Shortly after the exit news broke, Rhimes left a quick reminder for fans via Instagram. "Remember: the Duke is never gone. He's just waiting to be binge watched all over again. #ShondalandMenOnNetflixAreForever," she wrote at the time.
"It's a one-season arc. It's going to have a beginning, middle, end — give us a year," he told the news outlet. "[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."
Rhimes also touched on the one-season arrangement in her Vanity Fair interview on Tuesday, saying: "Anything else that was extra and wasn't really the plan when we started wasn't the plan when we finished. 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."
Bridgerton, created by Chris Van Dusen and based on author Julia Quinn's book series of the same name, premiered on Netflix last December. After breaking streaming records, the show was renewed for a second season in January. Production on the show's sophomore outing began in London in March.
On Tuesday, the official Bridgerton Twitter and Instagram pages announced that the show was renewed for a third and fourth season.
Season 1 of Bridgerton is available to stream on Netflix.