The vast majority of Netflix's Bridgerton fans are still coping with the news that the Regency England-set series is continuing on to Season 2 sans-Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page.
But the news was definitely not a shock to Page, who reportedly actually played a role in that decision. Not only that, but the leading man also originally and knowingly signed a one-year deal. Almost everyone involved with production knew, too, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Reportedly, the plan was always for each season of the Shondaland drama to highlight a different one of the eight Bridgerton siblings, which is consistent with Julia Quinn's best-selling novels on which the series is based. Season 1 focused on the love story between Simon and Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor.
But showrunners did not anticipate that Bridgerton would become Netflix's most-watched original series or that Page would become such a household name.
According to THR, Netflix offered Page $50,000 per episode to return as a guest star in three-to-five episodes of Season 2. But Page declined.
Page is reportedly extremely focused on his film career, as THR reports the actor has been flooded with offers since Bridgerton took off. He recently wrapped filming for Netflix film The Gray Man, opposite Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas, and will star in Paramount's Dungeons and Dragons, alongside Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Justice Smith.
So in conclusion, Page's film career taking off combined with his knowledge that his character would not be a focal point moving forward were reportedly the biggest contributing factors to his decision to not return to the Shonda Rhimes-produced series.
However, the actor did previously tell Variety that he was initially drawn to the show because Simon's role was a "one-season arc" with a "beginning, middle, end," which allowed him to come in, "contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on."