The very large and active fan base for Netflix’s period soap opera Bridgerton was shocked last week by the announcement that Regé-Jean Page, who plays Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, would not be returning for the show’s highly anticipated second season. Page was a nominee for Best Male Actor in a Drama Series this past weekend at the SAG Awards, the only individual cast member from his show to earn that distinction.
The news was first conveyed on the official Bridgerton Instagram account in the form of a society paper from Lady Whistledown that 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. 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.” Daphne, played by Phoebe Dynevor, is Simon’s wife, and will be back for season two.
Now, speaking to Variety, Page has revealed he always knew he would be leaving after just one season. He explained, “It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end – give us a year. [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. 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.”
In addition to these plans, Simon is also primarily featured in just the first of the eight novels by Julia Quinn on which the show is based. The series will serve as an anthology series of sorts, moving on to another sibling as the focus for next season. Stars signing on for just the initial season of series is commonplace, especially when characters and storylines are completely fresh each time. Julia Roberts in Homecoming is one prominent recent example, though in that case, the second season was considerably less popular, an affliction that isn’t likely to affect Bridgerton, which was watched by an astounding 82 million households within its first month.