Shondaland and Netflix's Bridgerton has a lot of moving parts to keep track of: A handful of large high-society families, a smattering of scandals, and a dictionary's worth of fancy 19th century Britishisms that might prompt you to turn on the subtitles. (There's no shame in that). While you may not know every suitor's name or parse out who is related to whom, there's one face you likely won't forget: that of Bridgerton's very own Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings.
I'm sorry, but this isn't a matter of taste. The Duke is objectively hot. He doesn't have a single bad angle, and looks fantastic in a high collar (he also looks great without — *clears throat* — anything at all). He can admittedly be an impossibly stubborn jerk, but he is also smart, witty, sexy, and a thoughtful, devoted partner. Based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling historical romance series The Bridgertons, the Shonda Rhimes original is Emma. meets Gossip Girl: a show all about the drama and rumors that permeate a fictionalized Regency-era British society, focusing on the influential Bridgerton family at its center.
Regé-Jean Page, the actor who plays the dashing Duke, is still relatively up-and-coming, so he might be hard to place. While he has a few British and American credits under his belt, this will certainly be his breakout role.
Born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1990, Page moved to London at 14-years-old. After graduating from drama school in 2013, he got his acting start in theater world, and most notably starred as Solanio opposite Jonathan Pryce in Merchant Of Venice at London's world-renowned Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. He then pivoted to TV, and appeared in the final season of British drama series Waterloo Road in 2015.
A year later, he made is American TV debut playing the role of Chicken George in the History Channel's remake of the classic 1977 miniseries Roots. Interviews with Page from 2016 reveal an actor who isn't afraid to critically engage with the difficult themes in his work, even opening up about the then-just burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement and Hollywood's diversity problem. "As we face that conversation about who we are and why our systems are the way they are and why our society is set up the way it's set up, it makes perfect sense to look back at the stories of exactly how that society is set up and why," Page told Harper's Bazaar.
He continues to use his craft for activism and exploring social issues — scroll through his Instagram and you'll find that he recently starred in a short film, Don't Wait, which explores Black masculinity and was featured in an art exhibition. (You'll also find that the man writes beautiful, poignant essay-like captions, which is, well — unfair and rude, frankly).
It makes sense, therefore, that he'd be a good fit for Shondaland and Rhimes' ongoing efforts to bring diversity to the screen and bring Black stories to the forefront of pop culture.
In 2017, he made his Shondaland debut in the legal drama series For the People, which he starred on for two years. And when it comes to the big screen, Page appeared in the 2018 post-apocalyptic film Mortal Engines as Captain Khora and starred opposite Tessa Thompson in the film Sylvie's Love, which is on Amazon now.
After watching Bridgerton, it might be hard to see him as anything other than the deliciously moody Duke, but he's given us more than enough reasons to endeavor to try.