Less than a week ago, hearts broke across the land upon news by way of Lady Whistledown that Simon Basset aka The Duke of Hastings won't be returning to the beloved Netflix original, Bridgerton. The announcement actually came via the show's Instagram account and actor Regé-Jean Page further dug the knife in our bleeding hearts (seriously, we are not OK) with an eloquent sign-off. He commented under the post:
"It's been an absolute pleasure and a privilege! Joining this family—the connection on and off-screen, with our cast, our crew, all the incredible fans, has been like nothing I could have ever imagined—the love is real and will only keep growing."
The explanation behind his departure is a simple one: The Bidgerton books which the series is based on, follow a different sibling in each book. Season one was focused on Daphne Bridgerton's romance (and the Duke's abs and other assets), so now that she's found burning love, not to mention a baby on the way, with Simon the seasons to follow will no longer feature his character. In an exclusive interview with Variety, Regé-Jean said:
"It's a one-season arc. It's going to have a beginning, middle, end—give us a year," before adding "[I thought] 'That's interesting,' because then it felt like a limited series. I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit, and then the Bridgerton family rolls on."
The frenzy Regé-Jean has sent fans and the press into since being first introduced to us as The Duke over the holidays has only gained more steam with his departure. But who is the rising star really? Much isn't known about him other than our gorgeous grace will in fact grace our screens again very soon—only not in Bridgerton season 2—but in The Gray Man, Netflix's biggest-budget feature film to date! While you take in that news, indulge in your burning love for all things Regé-Jean below.
Here are the Basics: Meet Regé-Jean
For starters, Regé-Jean is 31 years old and stands at 5'11''. He's British (hello, real accent) and Zimbabwean. The Bridgerton star was born in London but spent his childhood in Harare, Zimbabwe, and then returned to England for high school. In a 2016 interview with Interview Magazine, he talked about relocating as a teen:
"It's very hard to craft an identity in that environment as a young, mixed-race man."
Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's unclear if the actor is single or not since he's super private. We'll go with single though since there have been no signs to make us think otherwise. Yes, we can all continue to fantasize about a casual Shonda Rhimes-crafted meet-cue with the Duke that ends in hot, steamy...you get it.
That Time Regé-Jean Won an NAACP Image Award
Regé-Jean may have played a Duke, but upon his win for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards, he said "it is the highest honor" to represent the Black community in such a regal manner. He is also the first actor from Bridgerton to win an award for the hit show. He expanded on his speech backstage, adding:
"I think I see my job as a representative job…you are representing the world around you, you represent the political climate around you. That is integral into how we navigate together."
When he's not winning awards, he takes his advocacy to social media where he posts his support for Black Lives Matter. A Duke, an advocate, a humble winner—what can't he do?
Where You’ve Seen Regé-Jean Before
If the Duke looks familiar, it's possible you might have caught him in one of his other projects. Yes, there was a time when Regé-Jean existed outside of Regency-era London and was equally, for lack of a better word, HOT. He played Chicken George in the 2016 miniseries Roots and from 2018 to 2019 was a regular cast member on the ABC legal drama For the People— another Shondaland creation. One of his smaller acting credits includes the 2020 Amazon Prime romance Sylvie's Love where he played a jazz quartet member and love interest to Aja Naomi King who played Sylvie's bestie.
If you want to go way back, Potterheads will be able to point him out in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I if you freeze the screen at the perfect moment during the scene of Fleur and Bill's nuptials. We're glad he found his way back to Shondaland, even if only for a season. He certainly made a lasting impression on more than just Daphne!
Music Was His First Love
As a teen, Regé-Jean was the lead singer of a rock band called The Super Nashwan Kids that would frequent the London club scene. He was studying sound engineering at the time before he discovered the British National Youth Theatre and his acting hobby became a budding career. Regé opened up about his musical memories with his younger brother as his bandmate in Interview Magazine, saying:
"We were writing loud, angry, righteous guitar music and screaming at people with various colors in our hair."
Indeed, the Duke once had purple hair. We can already see the headlines courtesy of Lady Whistledown.
Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!
Featured image by Giphy