Shonda Rhimes ‘shocked’ by fan response to Rege-Jean Page’s exit

"That happens when I've killed off somebody that's been around for a while, Rhimes told Vanity Fair. "Like, we didn't kill him, he's still alive!"

Bridgerton executive producer Shonda Rhimes expressed that she was “shocked” by the fan reaction to news that the show’s breakout star, Rege-Jean Page, is leaving the Netflix hit. 

“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!” told Vanity Fair. “[Page] 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.”

According to “Bridgerton’s” Shonda Rhimes, Regé-Jean Page (above) had a one-season deal to play Simon but was invited to return for a few cameos in Season Two, which he declined. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

“I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance,” Rhimes said. “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!”

She said Page had a one-season deal to play Simon but was invited to return for a few cameos in Season Two, which he declined. 

Page is poised to appear in the Netflix thriller The Gray Man and an adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons.

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In the Vanity Fair conversation with Rhimes and producer Betsy Beers, both said they were surprised at the success of the period drama. They also note that the show may have inadvertently benefited from the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent quarantine. 

“The hard thing over the pandemic was actually really understanding the number of people who were watching,” Beers said. “It felt very abstract to me.” 

The show was recently greenlit through Season Four, which Rhimes says gives her creative space as a writer: “When you have multiple season orders, it allows you to plan in a creative way, storytelling-wise. You can plan a long arc character, for instance.” 

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Both women maintain that Page was “amazing” to work with. Rhimes says, “He’s a busy man!” 

And Beers wanted to make another thing clear of the potential future James Bond: “He’s a wonderful actor and a terrific guy.”

“I just want to say that,” she said. “Okay? He is.”

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