Rege-Jean Page Bridgerton

Actors don’t often become “heartthrobs” overnight and then ditch the part that brought them fame almost immediately after it happens. Alas, such is the case for Rege-Jean Page who played Simon “The Duke of Hastings” Basset on the first season of Bridgerton. The recent announcement that he was quitting the Netflix show, which comes only three months after its release, was disappointing to many fans, who swooned over his lovesick portrayal. But have no fear, ladies and gents, Page has a message for the fans, and it might just take some sting out of the cut.

The British actor gave Bridgerton fans a lovely message and throwback picture on Instagram to help temper the growing discontent about his departure from the hit Shondaland series’ second season. In it, he is in his full Regency-era Duke regalia, atop a horse, tipping his hat, saying in the caption that it was “a privilege to be your Duke” and that “the love is real.” See his well-played post here:

Rege-Jean Page quickly became the breakout star of Bridgerton not long after its release on Christmas last year. The sex scenes between Page and co-star Phoebe Dynevor were so shockingly hot and heavy that they bordered on scandalous, but the scenes helped catapult Page into heartthrob-level status and into several other exciting opportunities. He made his Saturday Night Live debut, even before Dynevor, and will star alongside Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas in the Netflix film The Gray Man.

His exit from Bridgerton after such a rise to stardom left many people confused but, apparently, Rege-Jean Page claimed it was the plan from the beginning for the Duke to only have a one-season arc. Yet somehow, the Duke’s paramour Daphne, the actual main character of Bridgerton, will still be in the next season in some capacity, as the main focus shifts toward her bro, Anthony.

Though the character Anthony Bridgerton got pretty hot and heavy as well in his Season 1 scenes, he wasn’t the one who necessarily put butts in seats (or couches), so to speak, or got the likes of Seth Rogen weighing in on the hit show. Rege-Jean Page’s exit is, in fact, a massive shake-up for the path of “heartthrob” standouts. I mean, Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraiser in Outlander is still going strong after five seasons, with another one in production. It is possible for actors to veer from the beaten path but usually, not until they extract as much fanbase and staying power from their respective hit shows.

The whole Rege-Jean Page Bridgerton exit also makes me think about Robert Pattinson post-Twilight. Pattinson garnered a huge heartthrob following as the Edward Cullen vampire but then (save one stint as the “traditional” romantic lead in Remember Me) veered mostly into the indie-auteur territory -- unexpectedly and to much deeper acclaim. Page might manage to accomplish something similar.

The message to Bridgerton fans from Rege-Jean Page might be bittersweet for some. But if they are true fans of the actor, hopefully they will follow his lead wherever his career takes him.

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