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Following reports that Regé-Jean Page decided not to return as a cast member on the hit Netflix show Bridgerton due to “creative differences” with the show’s executive producer Shonda Rhimes, the latter is now addressing all the controversy surrounding the actor’s departure from the show.

While in conversation with fellow Hollywood executive Betsy Beers for a piece released yesterday via Vanity Fair, Rhimes explained that she was actually pretty surprised about all of the fan disappointment circling the news that Page wouldn’t be returning for the show’s second season. From her point of view, the show is more about its “world-shifting” romances rather than its specific characters — and realistically, it’s not like Page’s character — The Duke of Hastings Simon Basset — was killed off the series.

“I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while,” Rhimes said of her reaction to the fans’ response on Page’s character not returning. “Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive! 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.”

Discussing her musings on what the Duke and his lady Daphne Bridgerton would do if they featured as a couple in season two while and explaining that their storyline had already run its course (make her more confused on the veiwers’ reactions), she said, “What would be the ever-after of this combo? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!”

“We made a one-season deal with him at the beginning of season one,” Rhimes said of the initial contract they made with Page regarding his commitment to the show. “That was the plan: come and do one season as the Duke. Anything else that was extra wasn’t really the plan when we started… So there’s a lot of fantastically interesting talk that’s been going on, mainly cause I think people are having a hard time letting go [to the Duke].”

All in all, it sounds like Rhimes was more surprised about the fans’ reaction to Page leaving rather than the actor actually turning down the generous offers the Bridgerton team threw his way in their attempts to get him to return for the second season. Since news broke yesterday that the show was picked up to return for a third and fourth season, the question still remains — will you be watching season two?

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