What Does Shonda Rhimes Really Think About Rege-Jean Page Leaving Bridgerton?

When "Bridgerton" premiered on Netflix in 2021, it didn't take long for the world to collectively fall in love with the show's characters, particularly the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page. The actor's onscreen chemistry with Phoebe Dynevor was sexy and absorbingly fun and it's safe to say the scene in which he declares his love for Daphne Bridgerton — when he utters the words "I burn for you" — will remain ingrained in our brains forever.

But on April 2, fans were heartbroken and completely blindsided when they found out Page would not be returning for the second season of "Bridgeton." The announcement, which came in the form of a notice from Lady Whistledown, the series' narrator and very own "Gossip Girl," read: "Dear Readers, while all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton's quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings." The message continued, "We'll miss Simon's presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family. Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer — more intrigue and romance than my readers may be able to bear."

Though some can't imagine "Bridgerton" without its heartthrob, executive producer Shonda Rhimes said Page's departure was expected.

Shonda Rhimes doesn't blame Regé-Jean Page for leaving

During an interview for Variety's November cover story, Shonda Rhimes revealed she didn't expect "everybody to have such a reaction to [Regé-Jean Page's "Bridgeton" exit]." However, she completely understands why they're so upset, explaining that "People's attachment to couples is real."

However, Page's departure wasn't so surprising. In fact, Rhimes doesn't blame the actor for choosing not to come back. "He's an enormous star now," she said. "As I like to say, the idea that we would write Regé to stand around in the background doesn't make any sense at all to me. 'What would he do?' is what I like to say." Rhimes also admitted that she invited Page to come back when "everybody lost their minds" following his departure, but he declined the offer.

She explained, "Rightfully, he said, 'I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I'm good!' And I don't blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection." She's not wrong. Since being cast on the Netflix series, Page has landed roles in star-studded films like "The Gray Man" and "Dungeons & Dragons." There were even rumors about him being the next James Bond. Still, the star will never forget his time on "Bridgerton" and the "privilege" it's been to play the Duke of Hastings, which he referred to as the "ride of a lifetime."