Rege-Jean Page is not returning for Bridgerton Season 2. Netflix made the world-rocking announcement on social media, trying to keep things in the cheeky tone of the smash-hit show: "Dear Readers, while all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton's quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings. We'll miss Simon's presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family. Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer – more intrigue and romance than my readers may be able to bear. Yours truly, Lady Whistledown."
According to reports from THR, Bridgerton season 2 will shift its primary character focus to Anthony Bridgerton, played by actor Jonathan Bailey. This is all in keeping with the novels by Julia Quinn's source novels, which jump between members of the Bridgerton family. As stated, Pheobe Deynevor's Daphne Bridgerton will remain a "vital part" of the story:
"Season two will focus on Anthony Bridgerton — played by Jonathan Bailey. Season two will begin production in early April. Fellow breakout Pheobe Deynevor will continue to appear in Bridgerton as Daphne Bridgerton and remains a vital part of the story, as a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother, Anthony, navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer."
Page reportedly had a one-season contract with Netflix for his appearance as Simon Bassett, Duke of Hastings, and Anthony Bridgerton's best friend. His character will remain in-universe, if not directly appearing in the show. Season 1 ended with the flash-forward that Simon and Daphne had a son together, while Anthony has committed to finding a wife without worrying about that pesky little thing called love. Actress Simone Ashley has been cast as Kate Sharma, the female lead of Bridgerton season 2.
While the swap-out makes sense for the narrative of the novels, television is no doubt a different kind of beast. Bridgerton made Rege-Jean Page a breakout talent in its first season - and his chemistry with Pheobe Deynevor is the smoldering center of what fans love about the series. TV audiences (American TV audiences in particular) have a hard time letting go of the characters and relationships they love - it will now be very interesting to see how Bridgerton fares in season 2, without Page. If fans don't embrace the show as well, Page could come roaring back for season 3, presumably.
Bridgerton Season 2 will stream on Netflix.