“Bridgerton” producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers address Regé-Jean Page’s departure in a new interview with Vanity Fair.

Rhimes says she was surprised by the outpouring of grief after Page’s departure was announced earlier this month. The actor played Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, in the much-loved Netflix show. It was announced Tuesday that “Bridgerton” was getting a third and fourth season.

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Rhimes shares, “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!

“[Regé-Jean] is 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 [in the Bridgerton series] 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!'”

Rene-Jean Page - Bridgerton
Regé-Jean Page in “Bridgerton”. Credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2020 — LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2020

Beers adds, “It’s delightful that fans were so invested in his character, and he’s a wonderful actor and a terrific guy. I just want to say that. Okay? He is.”

Rhimes continues, “He’s amazing, but that’s our job and something that Betsy and I have been doing since—well, God, has it been 20 years now?—is finding guys.

“I mean, hopefully, ladies too, but finding men that, that our audiences find devastatingly attractive and they become incredibly overly attached to, and they get enraged about when we move them about in any way.”

The duo are also asked about the reports suggesting they offered Page a deal to return to do some cameos for season 2 and he turned it down.

Rhimes tells the magazine, “We made a one-season deal with him at the beginning of season 1. That was the plan: come and do one season as the duke.

“Anything else was extra and wasn’t really the plan when we started, wasn’t the plan when we finished.

“So there’s a lot of fantastically interesting talk that’s been going on, mainly cause I think people are having a hard time letting go.”

The producer later clarified that Page was invited to return for season 2 cameos, along with a few other season-1 characters outside the “Bridgerton” family.

Rhimes also discusses whether or not they’ve locked down longer contracts for other actors, knowing they’ll become big stars amid the four-season run: “I don’t want to talk about people’s contracts, but once again, the concept is that every season, there’s a couple and that couple is the hot couple that you’re falling in love with, right? And there are eight Bridgertons.

“So, by the time you get to [pre-pubescent] Hyacinth—oh, dear God, she’ll be grown up by then. Obviously, we’re not going to match up a child!—we’ll grow Hyacinth up and you’ll see her story, too.”