Since its Netflix debut on Christmas Day, Shonda Rhimes’ steamy period drama Bridgerton has been all anyone can talk about. Based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, the show follows two well-to-do households during “the season,” an annual period when upper-class families would officially introduce their children to society and pair them up with the right partner.
The series largely follows the romantic pursuits of Daphne Bridgerton (played by Phoebe Dynevor), the oldest daughter of the Bridgerton family who is on the hunt to find a suitable husband. Circumstances out of her control, however, lead to a pretend engagement with Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, played by breakout star Regé-Jean Page.
Page wasn’t exactly a household name before Bridgerton, but he certainly will be soon. Since the series’ release, social media has been abuzz with talk of the actor’s talent and, of course, undeniable good lucks.
So, who is Regé-Jean Page, the man who plays Simon Basset — and more importantly, where has he been all our lives?
Page grew up in Harare and London.
The son of a Zimbabwean nurse and an English preacher, 30-year-old Regé-Jean Page was raised all over the world. Per an interview with Square Mile, he spent his childhood in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, then moved to North London as a child and relocated to Los Angeles in his twenties.
“There’s something valuable to growing up outside of the [center] of the world,” Page said about his upbringing in Zimbabwe. “Because you see places like LA, London, New York, see all these folks who think they’re in the middle of the universe, and don’t really think about the rest of you out there. And to a certain degree you are in the [center] of the universe in London. The rest of the U.K. feels this about Londoners: they think they’re the centre of the universe. And to a degree you kinda are. Which is why we’re such difficult people about it.”
Growing up as a mixed-race child in Zimbabwe, Page spent a lot of time as a child trying to figure out where he belonged in the world — and he said that experience helped him see the world from many different perspectives.
“Zimbabwe was still a relatively young country when I was living there and its post-apartheid society was only newly formed,” Page explained to The Guardian. “Being a mixed-race child in that environment means that you have to think about crafting your own identity and you question why you belong in that world.”
He used to be in a punk band.
At just 14 years old, Page and his younger brother formed a punk band — and he even dyed his hair purple to fit the punk aesthetic.
“What else are you going to do as a teenager? You’re going to scream at people one way or another. You might as well do it in a productive way. Was my logic,” he explained to Square Mile.
He studied at the Drama Centre London.
Though Page started acting for fun at the age of 14, he really started to refine his skills as a student at the famous Drama Centre London (DCL), where he received a BA in acting in 2013. (Other notable alumni include Emilia Clarke, Russell Brand, Michael Fassbender and Colin Firth.)
“It has a reputation for being overly intense and scary and that drew my attention right way,” Page explained to Variety. “I learned how to be light about my work while taking it serious.”
That “overly intense” reputation recently caught up with the school: In March, Arts Professional announced that DCL was closing “following an investigation into the death of a student and concerns about the … student welfare.”
He starred in another Shonda Rhimes show before Bridgerton.
If Page looks familiar to you, that’s because he’s been on quite a few American TV shows. In 2016, he made his debut on the U.S. small screen as Chicken George in Roots, the History Channel adaptation of the 1977 miniseries. He also landed a role in For The People, a Shondaland show that ran for two seasons on ABC until 2019.
His name is easier to pronounce than you think.
Regé-Jean Page’s seems like a tongue-twister, but it’s actually pretty easy to pronounce.
Don’t believe us? Let the actor explain it to you himself!
He’s a hopeless romantic.
Unlike his onscreen alter ego, Page is a firm believer in romance — and he isn’t afraid to say it.
“I’m a huge fan of romance as a concept. Romance is a wonderful thing and we need more of it in the world,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Most things at their core are love stories anyway, whether they realize it or not. It’s hilarious, the more seriously a show tries to take itself and detach itself from that, the more that the love story generally tends to come forward.”
He hopes to continue taking on roles that promote diversity and representation.
Though Bridgerton is far from historically accurate, Page loves that the show — and its casting decisions — more accurately reflects all of the people who were alive in the 19th and 20th centuries.
“That’s a huge part of why I wanted to turn up in the show— because we exist and have existed and will exist in absolutely every walk of life from the beginning of time to the end of it,” he told EW. “There is something of a deficit to be redressed there. We’re at a moment in time where it is part of my job for people in my generation of artists to start telling those stories and filling them in.”
More from In The Know: