The world let out a collective gasp when Lady Whistledown announced that Regé-Jean Page, the Duke of Hastings himself, wouldn't be returning to Netflix's Bridgerton. And though he's remained quiet on the matter — and a lot of the rumors about his future in films and TV — Page spoke to Variety about leaving the show (days after his co-star Phoebe Dynevor also talked about it) that catapulted him into the hearts of millions. Huge stars, like Kim Kardashian and Dionne Warwick, were basically inconsolable after finding out that the duke wouldn't be back for upcoming seasons of Bridgerton, but Page said that it's how things were planned all along: "That's what was meant."
"Simon was this bomb of a one-season antagonist, to be reformed and to find his true self through Daphne," he said. "I think one of the bravest things about the romance genre is allowing people a happy ending."
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Even executive producer Shonda Rhimes, who is no stranger to making drastic changes to the players in her epic shows, like Grey's Anatomy.
"We're used to speculation and drama when I kill a character off of a show, but this was different," Rhimes told Variety. "Regé was just doing what his character was written to do — ride off, alive, into his happily ever after."
But Page hopes that fans see what he does with Bridgerton in the rear-view. He spoke about never seeing Black actors in period pieces, noting that he and his friends "used to joke about the fact that you don't see a Black man on a horse." He's changed that now and hopes that viewers can see it, too.
"It's so simple. I can get on a horse and I can put it on the screen; that's step one," he said. "I can be royalty, and [other people of color] can see the possibility of being royalty. Standing there, wearing the boots and the jacket, doing the dances, inhabiting a space that is perfectly possible for me to inhabit, changes how you see the world."
Page's next project is The Gray Man, where he'll star alongside Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, and Dungeons & Dragons, a film adaptation of Hasbro's popular game co-starring Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, and Justice Smith.