The 31-year-old actor left fans heartbroken when he revealed earlier this month that his character, the Duke of Hastings, would not be returning for the second season of the popular period drama — prompting furious speculation that Page was in the running to take over the role of James Bond.
However, a source has now claimed to Page Six that Page’s decision to quit Bridgerton was actually sparked by tension with Rhimes over the fact that his character was not going to be the ‘focal point’ of the second season.
‘Regé is not coming back to Bridgerton because of creative differences with Shonda Rhimes and her team,’ a ‘Hollywood source’ told the publication.
‘He wasn’t happy with what was planned for his character for season two, which would have kept him a player but not the focal point of the show.’
Gone: Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page’s shock departure from the hit Netflix show came after a fallout with executive producer Shonda Rhimes over ‘creative differences’
‘Regé is not coming back to Bridgerton because of creative differences with Shonda Rhimes and her team,’ a ‘Hollywood source’ told Page Six
Famous: Page played Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, in the first season, which centered on his character’s romance with leading lady Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor
Page shot to global stardom after appearing as handsome heartthrob Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, in the first season of the show, which centered on his character’s romance with leading lady Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor.
Netflix said in the first 28 days that the show was online, Bridgerton was streamed in 82 million households, and it came as little surprise when it was renewed for a second season in January.
At the time, the streaming giant revealed that the second installment of episodes would focus on Daphne’s brother, Anthony Bridgerton, played by Jonathan Bailey, and his quest to find a wife, although it was initially suggested that Daphne and Simon would still feature in the show, just not in leading roles.
But much to the disappointment of Page’s most dedicated fans, Bridgerton’s social media accounts announced earlier this month that the actor would not be a part of it.
‘Dear Readers,’ the notice — written by Lady Whistledown herself — began. ‘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.’
Rhimes, meanwhile, added: ‘Remember: the Duke is never gone. He’s just waiting to be binge watched all over again.’
Coming back! In January, Netflix renewed the hugely popular series for a second season
Shocking: Bridgerton’s social media accounts announced earlier this month that Page would not be a part of season two
‘I have nothing but excitement for Bridgerton continuing to steam train off and conquer the globe,’ he said
The news led to furious speculation about the reasons for Page’s departure, with many reports suggesting that he was in line to take over from Daniel Craig as the next 007.
Page Six’s source did not mention the James Bond rumors, however the insider did insist that Page left the show on good terms, despite his ‘creative differences’ with Rhimes – who is also responsible for huge TV hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.
The source called out Grey’s Anatomy as an example of Rhimes’ determination to prioritize her shows over certain castmembers, noting that if you ‘look at all the big names who have left’ the ABC hit in the past, ‘you see [that if] you don’t agree with Shonda, nobody is bigger than the show’.
They also noted that Page has plenty of other things on his plate, having ‘been inundated with offers for other interesting and challenging leading roles.’
Page recently won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, and was also nominated in the same category at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
While Page may have been uninspired by the direction of season two, the show does seem to be following the outline set out by author Julia Quinn, the writer behind the popular romance novels on which the series is based.
Each book in the series follows the love story of a different Bridgerton siblings, starting with Daphne in ‘The Duke and I’ (Book 1) and moving on to Anthony in ‘The Viscount Who Loved Me’ (Book 2).
Next up: Season two will move on to another Bridgerton sibling, oldest son Anthony (left)
Ooh-la-la! Fans went wild for the sultry sex scenes in season one
All good: Page Six’s source insists that Page is leaving on good terms, even if he and Rhimes didn’t see eye to eye
Who is Regé-Jean Page?
Regé-Jean Page grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe, and spent his teen years in North London, where he was the lead singer of a rock band called The Super Nashwan Kids.
In photos taken between 2005 to 2009, he is seen rocking purple hair and jamming on stage with his band.
The actor commanded attention as he put on a show for packed audiences in Camden, London, while being the group’s lead singer.
Regé-Jean went on to have small roles in dramas such as Casualty and Casualty@Holby City in 2005.
He then moved to Los Angeles, where he spent the majority of his 20s.
The actor went on to appear in Fresh Meat in 2013, Waterloo Road in 2015, and For The People from 2018 to 2019.
Page’s character appears only briefly in Book 2, with the upcoming season focusing on Anthony, playing by a returning Jonathan Bailey, and Kate, played by Sex Education’s Simone Ashley.
The subsequent six books follow the love stories of Benedict, Colin, Eloise, Francesca, Hyacinth, and Gregory.
In an interview with Variety this month, Page insisted he was only ever contracted for one season of the show — and indicated that Simon and Daphne’s tidy happy ending was part of why he signed on in the first place.
He said producers had pitched him a ‘one-season arc’ with ‘a beginning, middle, [and] end’ and asked him to ‘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,’ he said.
As for the future, he added: ‘I have nothing but excitement for Bridgerton continuing to steam train off and conquer the globe.
‘But there is also value in completing these arcs and sticking the landing,’ he added.
Still, the Hollywood Reporter reports that 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.’
A source said Page has plenty of other things on his plate, having ‘been inundated with offers for other interesting and challenging leading roles’
Page insisted he was only ever contracted for one season of the show — and indicated that Simon and Daphne’s tidy happy ending was part of why he signed on in the first place
Page is set to star is several other upcoming projects, including the just-announced Dungeons & Dragons flick with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Justice Smith.
He is also currently filming the Netflix movie ‘The Gray Man,’ which will also star Ryan Gosling, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfre Woodard.
He is also a favorite to play James Bond following Craig’s departure from the franchise, but only offered a vague answer when asked about it.
‘Ah, the B word,’ he told The Mirror. ‘I think that if you are British and you do anything of note, that other people take notice of, then people will start talking about that.
‘I think that’s fairly normal and I’m flattered to be in the category of Brits that people have noticed. Nothing more — or less — than that.’
Other fan favorites include Idris Elba, Sam Heughan, Richard Madden, Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy, and James Norton.
DailyMail.com has reached out to spokespersons for Page, Rhimes, and Netflix for comment.