It was announced in April that Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page will not return for Season 2 of the Netflix show, and it appears fans shouldn't get their hopes up for any potential cameos from the Duke of Hastings. Producer Shonda Rhimes and Head of Global TV at Netflix, Bela Bajaria, recently participated in a Hollywood Reporter roundtable where they explained that since the show is based on Julia Quinn's novels, each of which focuses on a different Bridgerton sibling, it wouldn't make sense for Page to appear in future seasons.
"Those books [the Bridgerton book series that inspired the show] really dictated what we did, and we want talent to have an amazing experience and tell the story they're telling authentically, not, 'Oh, can you just come over here and do this little thing?'" Bajaria said, via Entertainment Tonight. "Like, is that satisfying? Is that what actors want to do? He delivered on his story."
Season 1 focused on Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and her relationship with the Duke of Hastings and Season 2 will follow Daphne's older brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), as he "intends to dominate the social season," according to Rhimes.
"I was just excited about the idea of being able to tell a complete romantic tale that has an end, where you're not finding 14 other reasons why the couple can't be together or frankly having Regé stand in the background of somebody else's romance," she said. "That doesn't make sense." The producer added that she didn't anticipate the fan response after Page's exit was announced.
"I was like, 'I've killed many a man that people adore,'" she mused. "I'm so surprised that everybody is [losing it over a character we've watched] for eight episodes leaving. But obviously Regé is an amazing actor and he did an amazing thing and people responded. I also was surprised because the nature of this series is simply, this year it's this couple, this year it's [that] couple."
Page's character does remain a presence throughout Quinn's novels and was reportedly invited to return for a Season 2 cameo, but ultimately turned it down, The Hollywood Reporter shared. Sources say Page was offered an opportunity to return as a guest star in three to five episodes of Season 2 at a rate of $50,000 an episode but declined for "a multitude of reasons," likely including his burgeoning film career.
The actor had previously told Variety that he was drawn to the role of Simon because it was a "one-season arc" with a "beginning, middle, end" that allowed him to "contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on."