Bridgerton's executive producer Shonda Rhimes finally responds to Regé-Jean Page's exit

"We didn't kill him"

Television producer Shonda Rhimes speaks at the 2016 Vulture Festival at Milk Studios on May 22, 2016 in New York City.
(Image credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)

You can probably still hear the screams of outraged Bridgerton fans over Regé-Jean Page's exit from the Netflix Regency-era drama. And I mean, we get it, he's THE Duke. 

If anyone was more shocked, though, it was the executive producer of Bridgerton, Shonda Rhimes. But, not for the reason you might think. While you'd think she'd be just as upset to see Regé leave the show, she's actually more surprised over the strong reaction fans had.

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Now, the executive producer is responding to fan outcries in an interview with Vanity Fair.

"I was really shocked because usually, that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while," she said. "Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!"

In her defense, she says the show is just following the book, which is why she claims she doesn't understand the overwhelming response from fans.

"Every season, our job is finding the right people and putting together this incredible, world-shifting romance," Shonda explained. "I don’t know that I expected this much of an explosion, given that every book [in the Bridgerton series] is a different romance."

For Shonda, season one gave Regé's character Simon a nicely wrapped happy ending with his on-screen wife, Daphne.

"What would be the ever-after of this combo?" she said. "We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!"

Fan reactions usually come as no surprise for Shonda too. Her work on other hit shows like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal has allowed her to expect a pouring of outcries from fans because they become attached to characters over time. In fact, she knows she's done a good job when she's found an actor that receives so much fan reaction.

"That’s our job… is finding guys," she explained. "I mean, hopefully, ladies too, but finding men that our audiences find devastatingly attractive and they become incredibly overly attached to, and they get enraged when we move them about in any way."

Season two of Bridgerton is also already underway, with production happening as we speak. And we understand you may be on the fence about tuning in for its second season, but while our Duke may be leaving, a mix of new faces are coming to help fill a Regé-sized hole.

Rylee Johnston

Rylee is a U.S. news writer who previously worked for woman&home and My Imperfect Life covering lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. Before joining woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.