From Dashing Duke to Hollywood Heartthrob: Regé-Jean Page Reflects on Life Beyond ‘Bridgerton’

Simon was this bomb of a one-season antagonist, to be reformed and to find his true self through Daphne. I think one of the bravest things about the romance genre is allowing people a happy ending. ~ Regé-Jean Page

On a cloudless spring day in Los Angeles, Regé-Jean Page is posing on a rooftop. It’s sweltering outside, and that’s not accounting for Page’s signature smolder.

Most fans got to know the 31-year-old British-Zimbabwean star from a distance, as the actor perched on his couch for one Zoom interview after the next to pro- mote Netflix’s Regency romance drama “Bridgerton.”

But Page is considerably more animated when he doesn’t have to fit into a virtual frame or into the buttoned-up persona of Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings. Of course, Simon eventually lets it all hang out as the romance with his leading lady, Daphne Bridgerton, (Phoebe Dynevor) progresses over the course of the series.

And on the set of his Variety cover shoot, Page does the same — emotionally, that is. (Full disclosure: Page does not go shirtless during the photo session; this is not that kind of magazine spread.)

Clad in a fitted bright orange suit, Page pulsates with energy. He bounds around during the photo session, air-drumming along to the sounds of the Notorious B.I.G. and Lizzo. He has the kind of nonchalant and unassuming demeanor that indicates he has no idea that, in just a matter of days, he’ll send “Bridgerton” fans into a tizzy of epic proportions with the announcement that he’s leaving the hit series, which a record-breaking 82 million households tuned in to after its Christmas Day debut.

When asked if he was nervous about leaving the show that made him a star, Page responds: “Not at all, because that’s what was meant.”

As Black people, we’re very used to empathizing with the world through white people’s eyes, because they’re the protagonists. I know what it’s like to look at the world and empathize with Superman because I spent my whole life doing that.

What’s revolutionary, in its own way, is getting folks to see the world through my eyes, because then they are in my skin and looking at the world through me. ~ Regé-Jean Page

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