'Bridgerton' Shocker: Regé-Jean Page Not Returning for Season 2

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Lady Whistledown is going to have a field day with this one.

Regé-Jean Page, one of the breakout stars from Netflix's hot Regency drama Bridgerton, will not be returning for season 2 as the Duke of Hastings, it was announced Friday on Twitter via a message from the Ton's gossip maven. Page's exit from the series is a shocker, as the character of Simon remains a presence throughout the rest of author Julia Quinn's bestselling novels on which Bridgerton is based.

Phoebe Dynevor, who was one-half of the central couple in season 1 opposite Page, will return as Daphne.

"While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton's quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Rege-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," the message reads. "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."

Shonda Rhimes shared a message on Instagram saying goodbye to the Duke of Hastings.

"Remember: the Duke is never gone. He’s just waiting to be binge watched all over again," Rhimes wrote alongside a photo of Page in character.

Page expressed his gratitude to the cast and crew for making his brief time on the show memorable.

"Pleasure and a privilege! An honour to be a member of the family - on and off screen, cast, crew and incredible fans - the love is real and will just keep growing," he wrote on Twitter.

Since Bridgerton dropped on Christmas, Page's star has risen exponentially. The British actor made his Saturday Night Live hosting debut in February and has lined up high-profile projects, including Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans' The Gray Man and the film adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons. Page recently won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series and is up for two Screen Actors Guild Awards this weekend, including one for his individual performance.

Though season 2 shifts its focus to the eldest Bridgerton as Anthony begins his quest to find love, Page's departure is surprising for several reasons.

As mentioned before, the character of Simon remains an integral part of the narrative of the Bridgerton story as he and Daphne explore the early years of their marriage, and as Simon's best friend navigates finding a wife. In the second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, of which season 2 is loosely based on, Simon and Daphne are featured in one of the book's most iconic scenes with the pall mall tournament. Without Simon's presence and Daphne still around, how Bridgerton chooses to address his absence will be tricky.

The upcoming season, which begins production this spring in London, follows Anthony as he "intends to dominate the social season." Sex Education's Simone Ashley will play Anthony's love interest Kate Sharma, newcomer Charithra Chandran will play Kate's younger sister Edwina and Rupert Young will play a new character specifically created for the series.

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey recently spoke with ET to offer a preview of what's to come for Anthony on his road to find love.

“It’s just going to get more exciting and convoluted and sexier, I think,” the actor said, adding the series will surely “be pushing boundaries every single way" and "that the story is going to be really exciting.”

“I think Chris Van Dusen has got this amazing ability to take Julia Quinn’s extraordinary books and her amazing worlds that she delicately filled with excitement and sexiness. And he takes it to a whole other level,” Bailey said, when asked how much the new season will parallel the narrative in the books. “So the fact that we’re following Anthony’s pursuit for love shows that you know there’s definitely going to be some similarities.”

Bailey played coy about whether fan-favorite character, Kate Sheffield, will be a major player in the new season, and now we know why. “Having read the second book, if Anthony gets to meet anyone half as brilliant as Kate Sheffield is, then he’s going to be a very lucky man," he said. 

For more on Bridgerton, watch below.

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