Shonda Rhimes Was ‘Surprised’ by the Response to Rege-Jean Page’s ‘Bridgerton’ Exit: ‘I’ve Killed Many a Man That People Adore’

It had to happen! Shonda Rhimes was shocked that fans were so upset Regé-Jean Page left Bridgerton — even though his character was only supposed to be around for one season.

Celebs React to Rege-Jean Page's ‘Bridgerton’ Exit: 'I'm Not Well'

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“I don’t think I fully expected or understood what releasing all eight episodes around the globe at once was going to do,” the producer, 51, told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, May 12. “I was like, ‘I’ve killed many a man that people adore.’ I’m so surprised that everybody is [losing it over a character we’ve watched] for eight episodes leaving.”

Shonda Rhimes Shocked By Reaction Rege Jean Pages Bridgerton Exit
Shonda Rhimes and Rege-Jean Page. Matt Baron/Shutterstock; Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Last month, the official Bridgerton Twitter account announced that Page, 31, was leaving the series ahead of its second season. His character, Simon Basset a.k.a. the Duke of Hastings, had been the romantic lead in season 1 — gaining the U.K. native plenty of fans around the world.

“It’s a one-season arc. It’s going to have a beginning, middle, end – give us a year,” the actor told Variety on April 2 after the announcement was made. “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.”

Though she appreciates his skill as an actor, Rhimes was interested in why people seemed so distraught after the For the People alum made the situation so clear.

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“Obviously Regé is an amazing actor and he did an amazing thing and people responded. I also was surprised because the nature of this series is simply, this year it’s this couple, this year it’s [that] couple,” the Year of Yes author told THR.

She continued, “I was just excited about the idea of being able to tell a complete romantic tale that has an end, where you’re not finding 14 other reasons why the couple can’t be together or frankly having Regé stand in the background of somebody else’s romance. That doesn’t make sense.”

Netflix’s vice president of global television, Bela Bajaria, agreed, noting that Page did exactly what he was meant to do during his time on the show.

“We want talent to have an amazing experience and tell the story they’re telling authentically, not, ‘Oh, can you just come over here and do this little thing?’ Like, is that satisfying? Is that what actors want to do? He delivered on his story,” she added on Wednesday.

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The upcoming second season of Bridgerton will focus on Anthony Bridgerton, who is played by Jonathan Bailey. On April 13, Netflix announced that the show has also been renewed for seasons 3 and 4.

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