Simone Ashley was the first of the newcomers to join in February. The 26-year-old actress will portray Kate Sharma, who catches the eye of the eldest Bridgerton son, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), as he continues his search for The One. Per Netflix’s official announcement, “Kate is a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools — Anthony Bridgerton very much included.”
Season 1 of the Shondaland series was a massive hit, with 82 million households tuning into the period drama within one month of its December 2020 debut. The first installment — based on Julia Quinn‘s popular novels — followed the love story between Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, and Simon Bassett, played by Page, 34. After facing a handful of ups and downs under the watchful eye of anonymous gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, the pair end the season married with a new baby.
Showrunner Chris Van Dusen started hinting at a possible second season soon after the series became a success. “I would love to be able to focus and really tell stories and love stories for all the Bridgerton siblings. For each character, for sure,” he told Collider, noting how inspired he was by Quinn’s work.
Each of the author’s eight books gives a different character the chance to take over the spotlight. Season 2 will follow Quinn’s second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, allowing Bailey, 33, to shine as the man of the Bridgerton household.
“I feel like the campy, plush spectacle of the Bridgerton world is only going to get more pronounced in the best way possible,” he told British Vogue of the upcoming season in February. “It’s mad and it’s brilliant. There are also going to be a lot of brilliant characters introduced in this series — and it’s not just Anthony that we’re going to delve into. … There’s just going to be more of what everyone loves, I think.”
With the introduction of new characters, however, comes the departure of a fan favorite. Netflix announced in April 2021 that Page would not be returning as the Duke of Hastings next season. He detailed the decision during an interview with Variety, claiming that Simon’s story was always going to be a “one-season arc.”
The For the People alum continued: “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.”
Keep scrolling to learn more about the latest additions to the Bridgerton cast: