An official statement posted to the show’s Twitter account confirmed the casting change on Friday, April 2, breaking the news in the voice of its anonymous narrator, Lady Whistledown. The statement began, “Dear Readers, while all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton [Jonathan Bailey]’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings.”
The announcement continued: “We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family. Daphne [Phoebe Dynevor] 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. Yours truly, Lady Whistledown.”
Netflix shared the same statement via Twitter, adding, “You’ll always be our Simon, Regé.”
Bridgerton — a Shondaland drama based on Julia Quinn‘s popular series of novels — became an instant hit when it debuted on the streaming service in December 2020. The first season focused on the love story between Simon and Daphne, whose chemistry was so convincing that viewers wondered whether a romance was brewing between Page, 31, and Dynevor, 25, behind-the-scenes. While the For the People actor previously played coy about the relationship rumors, his costar was more direct in her denial.
“I’d love to say there was really something between us. But no, it has always been strictly professional. There was so much pressure on us to get it right that it was all about the work. We have a really professional working relationship,” the Younger star told You magazine in February. “I’m glad for that, actually. It would be very complicated if it went further.”
The Chris Van Dusen-created series was renewed for a second season in January, with Netflix confirming that Bailey, 32, would be the main focus. While teasing what was up next for the Bridgerton family, the Broadchurch actor told British Vogue that there would be “loads of little Easter eggs” for fans to pick up on.
“It’s mad, and it’s brilliant. There are also going to be a lot of brilliant characters introduced in this series — and it’s not just Anthony that we’re going to delve into,” he told the outlet in February. “The robust universe that’s been set up by Shonda [Rhimes] and Chris [Van Dusen] will just expand and keep pushing boundaries in a way that’s quietly subversive. There’s just going to be more of what everyone loves, I think.”
News of Page’s exit comes two days before the 27th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where he’s nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series. The cast of Bridgerton is also up for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Following his exit, Page tweeted and spoke out in a new interview about the decision. “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.