The hit period drama was the first offering from the TV super-producer’s multi-million dollar deal with Netflix, and has proved hugely popular with subscribers, pulling in the most viewers ever for one of the platform’s original shows.
However, the news that Regé-Jean would not be returning as the Duke of Hastings for Bridgerton’s second series has not gone down well with fans, which Shonda admits came as something of a surprise to her.
She told Vanity Fair: “I was really shocked [by the reaction], because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while.
“Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive! [Regé-Jean] is 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.”
Addressing speculation he turned down the chance to appear in series two, she continued: “We made a one-season deal with him at the beginning of season one. That was the plan: come and do one season as the duke. Anything else that was extra and wasn’t really the plan when we started, wasn’t the plan when we finished.
“So there’s a lot of fantastically interesting talk that’s been going on, mainly cause I think people are having a hard time letting go.”
However, Vanity Fair pointed out that Shonda later clarified Regé-Jean had been invited to return for cameos in series two.
The Hollywood Reporter claimed last week that Regé-Jean had only ever signed a one-series deal with Bridgerton, which they said was part of the appeal of the role for him.
According to the media outlet, he declined the opportunity to guest star in “three to five episodes” – at a rate of $50,000 an episode – to focus on his burgeoning film career and due to the small role his character would have.
Prior to the news of Regé-Jean Page’s exit, it had already been announced that Jonathan Bailey’s character Anthony Bridgerton will take centre stage in the second series of the hit show, with Sex Education star Simone Ashley joining the cast as Kate, a new love interest for him.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that a third and fourth series of Bridgerton have now been commissioned.