As the mourning period for Britain’s most dashing fictional member of royalty, the Hot Duke, continues into its second week, Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes is sympathizing with our horny loss. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Rhimes confirmed that Regé-Jean Page always had a one-season deal with the series, and he indeed declined to return for a few season-two cameos, which were reportedly offered with a pay bump. But what really caught her by surprise was the fan reaction. “I was really shocked, because usually that happens when I’ve killed off somebody that’s been around for a while. Like, we didn’t kill him, he’s still alive!” she explained about the outpouring amount of grief that came from fans. “He’s a powerful, amazing actor and that meant we did our job — 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 is a different romance. What would be the ever-after of this combo? I mean, really: What would Regé-Jean do, you know what I mean? We gave them their happily ever after! And now we have this next couple coming. And so yeah, I was like, whoa!”
Rhimes, who joked that she always had a talent for “finding guys” who are “devastatingly attractive” to star in her shows, remains optimistic that future Bridgerton seasons will have plenty of other hot men for viewers to lust over. “There’s a lot of fantastically interesting talk that’s been going on,” she continued, “mainly ’cause I think people are having a hard time letting go.” As a reminder, Page revealed earlier this month that he would not return to the Bridgerton universe for a second season, citing that he was attracted to the role due to its one-and-done nature. “I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit, and then the Bridgerton family rolls on,” he explained at the time. “There is also value in completing these arcs and sticking the landing.” The next season will mirror the book series and focus on Anthony’s life instead.