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Shonda Rhimes Is ‘Shocked’ That You’re All Shocked About Regé-Jean Page’s ‘Bridgerton’ Exit

”Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!“ producer tells Vanity Fair

“Bridgerton” producer Shonda Rhimes was “shocked” that you were all so shocked by Regé-Jean Page’s “Bridgerton” exit.

“I was really shocked, 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!” Rhimes told Vanity Fair. [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!”

The “Grey’s Anatomy” creator added that her entire career has been “finding guys — I mean, hopefully ladies too — but finding men that our audiences find devastatingly attractive and they become incredibly overly attached to, and they get enraged about when we move them about in any way.”

Page played Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, on Season 1 of the insanely popular streaming soap. He will not appear at all in the drama’s upcoming second season. Though news, while clearly heartbreaking to many viewers (let’s face it, dude’s a hunk), it didn’t come as much of a shock to fans of the Julia Quinn novels the show is based on.

The books move on from Simon and Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor)’s love story to that of her brother Anthony in the second installment. The Duke could still come back for potential future seasons, of which there will be at least two: “Bridgerton” was renewed for Seasons 3 and 4 on Tuesday.

Page came into the project under contract for one season only. And though he was offered the chance to make cameos in Season 2, an individual with knowledge tells TheWrap he turned down the opportunity to focus on other projects as his main storyline on “Bridgerton” had wrapped up.

Season 1 of “Bridgerton” is adapted from “The Duke and I,” the first book in Quinn’s “Bridgerton” novel series. That book, and thus “Bridgerton’s” corresponding first season, centered on Daphne Bridgerton and her love interest, Simon. Their story is resolved by the end of Season 1, with them happily married and welcoming the arrival of their first child following Simon’s reconciliation with his issues about having children.

While Page’s Simon will not appear on screen at all in Season 2, which recently began production, Daphne is very much still part of the story and so she will be at her brother Anthony’s (Jonathan Bailey) side as he goes on his own romantic journey with new character Kate Sharma (played by “Sex Education” alum Simone Ashley). This means that Simon will be referenced throughout the season, as he’s still Daphne’s husband and the father of her son, an individual with knowledge tells TheWrap. The door is also open for Page to reprise his role in future seasons.

Read the full Vanity Fair interview here.