Bridgerton Showrunner Wasn't Prepared for Fan Reaction to Rege-Jean Page's Exit

Last month, Bridgerton fans got the shocking news that the show's lead, Regé-Jean Page, would not be returning to the Netflix series for its second season. "It's a one-season arc. It's going to have a beginning, middle, end – give us a year," Page explained after the news broke, recounting early conversations he had with Shondaland producers. "[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." Considering this was the plan for Page all along, producer Shonda Rhimes recently told The Hollywood Reporter that she was surprised by fans' reaction to the news.

"I don't think I fully expected or understood what releasing all eight episodes around the globe at once was going to do. And yeah, 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. But 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," Rhimes shared.

"Those books really dictated what we did, and 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," Netflix's Bela Bajaria added.

"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," Rhimes explained.

During another recent interview with Vanity Fair, Rhimes spoke more about her thoughts on the fan response to Page's exit.

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"I was really shocked, because usually, that happens when I've killed off somebody that's been around for a while," Rhimes reiterated. "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. I don't know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] 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!"

Bridgerton's first season is streaming now on Netflix.