Season two of "Bridgerton" premiered on Netflix in March. Although many actors returned for the show's second season, Regé-Jean Page — who plays Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings — in the series is nowhere to be found.
During an April 2021 interview with Variety, he said that he knew his time on "Bridgerton" was going to be short-lived because he only had a one-season deal.
The show is based on the popular book series by Julia Quinn and each novel focuses on the love life of a "Bridgerton" sibling.
“It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end—give us a year,” Page said at the time. “(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.”
Page contributed his "bit" to "Bridgerton" when fans watched his character fall in love with Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, in season one of the show.
Like the second installment of the book series, season two instead focused on Anthony Bridgerton's quest for love. But even though it was all about him, Dynevor still returned for a small part in season two. Her character would occasionally appear to give Anthony, played by Jonathan Bailey, some helpful advice on love.
Although fans got to see Dynevor on-screen again, executive producer Shonda Rhimes said she didn't want a small storyline for Page.
Regé-Jean Page is ‘an enormous star now’
“He’s an enormous star now,” she previously told Variety. “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.”
Once fans learned that Page would not be returning for season two, they took to social media to air their frustrations.
One person tweeted, "I wish Regé-Jean Page was coming back for season 2 Bridgerton."
Another said, "I am NOT taking the Rege Jean Page leaving @bridgerton news well."
A third added, "Regé-jean page leaving bridgerton as if he wasn’t the only reason most of the people watched the show."
In an April 2021 interview with Vulture, Rhimes spoke out about all the backlash the show was getting for Page's departure.
“I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while," she said. "Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!”
“He’s a powerful, amazing actor and that meant we did our job — every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance," the "Grey's Anatomy" creator continued. "I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book is a different romance. What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Regé-Jean do, you know what I mean? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!”
Due to his absence, some fans couldn't help but wonder how Anthony's storyline would have been different if the Duke of Hastings would have been around.
Adjoa Andoh, who plays the wise Lady Danbury in the show, told TODAY that it probably wouldn't have been all that different since the series is based on the novels.
"We've done novel one: Daphne Bridgerton. And we're now doing novel two: Anthony Bridgerton. So, however the Duke of Hastings would've impacted the story would've been a lot more gentle than it was in season one because it's not his story," she said.
"We can fantasize about whatever factors — he's not there, but he probably would’ve been backing up his wife with some sort of manly advice on the way to approach love and romance, perhaps," Andoh continued.
"But I think that very intense focus of his story has shifted now to Antony and so that's where the energy and the focus is," she added.