Shonda Rhimes Gets Why Everyone Got Upset Over Regé-Jean Page Leaving 'Bridgerton'

"People's attachment to couples is real — I mean, I know that better than anybody."

Earlier this year, when Regé-Jean Page broke hearts everywhere with the news that he wouldn't be back for Bridgerton's sophomore season, just about everyone shed a tear knowing that there wouldn't be more smoldering from the Duke of Hastings. And in a new interview with Variety, creator Shonda Rhimes says that, at first, she didn't expect the uproar. Now that the dust has settled, however, she says that she's more understanding and totally sees why Page wouldn't want to come back. After all, he's a star now — and a big one, at that, with Dungeons and Dragons in the works and a Russo brothers movie happening.

"I don't think I expected everybody to have such a reaction to it," Rhimes said. "My assumption of what people knew of romance novels was ... I overestimated a great deal."

Rege-Jean Page
Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

With her experience on Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, it's clear that Rhimes knows something about high-watt couples and what on-screen romance can mean to audiences off-screen.

"People's attachment to couples is real — I mean, I know that better than anybody," she continued. "And I think that means success. But I do understand their despair."

In regards to Page, she says that his rising star might be a little distracting to viewers. Plus, she wouldn't know how to incorporate that into the new season. She called his decision to step away "perfection."

"He's an enormous star now. As I like to say, the idea that we would write Regé to stand around in the background doesn't make any sense at all to me. 'What would he do?' is what I like to say," she said. "He said, 'I signed up to do this one lovely story, this closed-ended storyline. I'm good!' And I don't blame him for that. I think that he was really smart to leave the perfection as the perfection."

Bridgerton has been renewed for four seasons, though the source material, a series of books by Julia Quinn, may stretch that even more. There are eight books so far and Rhimes says that four seasons on Netflix may not be enough.

"As far as I'm concerned, there are eight Bridgerton seasons," she said. "And maybe more."

Season 2, which hasn't been given a premiere date just yet, is set to focus on Jonathan Bailey's Anthony Bridgerton as he looks for the love in the world of over-the-top balls, Lady Whistledown, and corseted ladies whispering about the diamond of the season.

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