Bridgerton: Shonda Rhimes personally invited Regé-Jean Page to return for Season 2
Bridgerton became an instant hit when it debuted on Netflix on Christmas Day 2020, thanks to its perfect blend of steamy scenes, period setting, and dramatic storylines. But it was the relationship between the show’s breakout stars – Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, and Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton – that had fans completely invested.
Page quickly rose to prominence, transforming a simple teaspoon into a wild object of desire. So when Netflix and Shondaland announced in early April that Page would not be returning for a second season as the Duke of Hastings, it sparked virtual (and possibly literal) tears of grief across the internet. Shonda Rhimes, the show’s executive producer and writer, has now revealed that she considered inviting Page back after the dramatic backlash to his departure from the show.
Despite the fact that the second season of Bridgerton was always going to be more focused on Anthony Bridgerton, the absence of the fan favourite came as a surprise to fans. After all, Simon and Daphne had finally found their happily ever after at the end of season one. However, Rhimes was taken aback by this reaction because she expected more people to be familiar with the structure of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton romance novels, on which the series is based.
“Every season we’re telling a different romance storey of a different couple,” she explained in an interview for Variety’s Show Woman of the Year. “There are eight Bridgerton siblings, and as far as I’m concerned, there are eight Bridgerton seasons. And maybe more.”
Nonetheless, Rhimes approached Page and asked if he wanted to extend his Bridgerton contract after “everybody lost their minds” about his departure. “Rightfully, he said, ‘I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I’m good!’” Rhimes told Variety. “And I don’t blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection.”
Rhimes, who created the heartbreaking romantic storylines #MerDer (Meredith and Derek) on Grey’s Anatomy and #Olitz (Olivia and Fitz) on Scandal, revealed that it was always the plan for her and the show’s creators, Chris Van Dusen and Betsy Beers, to end Simon and Daphne’s story as “happily ever after.”
“For once on television, they were going to get their happily ever after versus — well, you know!” she continued. “In network television, you have to come up with 15 years of why a couple has to be apart.”