After its Christmas Day release, Bridgerton quickly became one of Netflix's most popular shows of all time. A huge part of the show's appeal came from breakout star Regé-Jean Page, who played the show's romantic leading man, the swoon-worthy Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings. However, fans of the series were devastated to find out that Page would not be returning for season two of the costume drama. "The ride of a life time," Page wrote on Instagram. "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."
While readers of the Bridgerton book series suspected that this might be the case -- the Duke barely makes an appearance in the second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which focuses on Anthony Bridgerton -- many had hoped that perhaps the role would be expanded to keep Page in the mix. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Page was offered $50,000 an episode to return as a guest start for three to five episodes in season two, but the up-and-comer turned it down.
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Page told Variety that it was always his plan to play the Duke for a single season. "It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end – give us a year," Page explained that he was told by Shondaland producers. "[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."
"One of the things that is different about this [romance] genre is that the audience knows the arc completes," he explained. "They come in knowing that, so you can tie people in emotional knots because they have that reassurance that we’re going to come out and we’re going to have the marriage and the baby." Page continued, revealing that he had only been contracted for one season. "I have nothing but excitement for Bridgerton continuing to steam train off and conquer the globe," he concluded. "But there is also value in completing these arcs and sticking the landing."
Page was easily the breakout star of the first season of Bridgerton, so while fans will surely miss seeing him as Simon, his career is definitely on the rise. He was a well-received host of Saturday Night Live earlier in the year and has booked a number of film roles, including Netflix's spy thriller The Gray Man alongside Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling and the upcoming adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons. His name is also often in the mix now when people discuss who should be the next James Bond after Daniel Craig's last outing in No Time To Die. Page might be ready to move on from Bridgerton, but it's clear that his career will only continue to explode.