Bridgerton’s breakout star Rege-Jean Page will not return for the second season of Netflix’s hit period drama.
The British-Zimbabwean actor, 31, found fame playing the dashing Duke of Hastings opposite Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne Bridgerton, with their romance forming the centrepiece of season one.
The forthcoming season, filming of which begins in spring in the UK, will instead follow the eldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony, played by Jonathan Bailey, as detailed in the second book by author Julia Quinn.
News of Page’s departure was announced through a special edition of the mysterious narrator Lady Whistledown’s gossipy Society Paper, posted on Instagram.
It said: “While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Rege-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings. We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family.
“Daphne 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.”
In a tweet, Page described his time on the show as a “pleasure and a privilege”.
He added: “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.”
Page’s departure will not come as a surprise to fans of Quinn’s novels, in which the Duke’s romance largely plays out in the first of the series before the focus shifts elsewhere.
On the back of Bridgerton, Page has become a heartthrob and hosted long-running US sketch show Saturday Night Live.
He has also secured a number of high-profile screen roles including in Netflix spy thriller The Gray Man, where he will appear alongside Hollywood stars Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans.
The cast also includes James Bond actress Ana De Armas, Armageddon star Billy Bob Thornton and 12 Years A Slave’s Alfre Woodard.
Anthony and Joe Russo, the brothers best-known for their work on the Avengers films, are directing.
Bridgerton is produced by Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland and has been described as Gossip Girl meets Downton Abbey.
Rhimes, the showrunner behind medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, tweeted: “Remember: the Duke is never gone. He’s just waiting to be binge watched all over again.”
The cast of Bridgerton is also nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance in an ensemble in a drama series, while Page is also nominated individually for male actor in a drama series.