Regé-Jean Page may not be coming back to the colorful, gossipy, glittering world of Bridgerton, but he'll always be the Duke of Hastings. During a conversation with fellow period-piece superstar Emma Corrin (who plays Princess Diana on The Crown) for Variety's Actors on Actors video series, Page explained that the show, which became a fan favorite thanks to his steamy portrayal of Simon Basset, was the sort of thing that looked fun and frothy, but had more under the surface, like a McDonald's Happy Meal injected with unexpected vitamins.
He told Corrin that he knew Bassett was based on Heathcliff in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, but he wanted to add more to the role than just being a guy brooding in a vest.
Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP
"He's a tall, dark, brooding, emotionally stunted man," Page said. "We talk a lot with Bridgerton about it being female-centric, but also, what are men looking up to? What am I doing with this icon of masculinity?"
By going deeper, he said the role offered up surprises for viewers and himself, though he didn't get into exactly what sort of toy would come with a Bridgerton-themed meal from McDonald's.
"What's making this meal actually worth eating? I think of Bridgerton as a Happy Meal, but with secret vitamins put in there," he said. "It's like a secretly healthy, organic burger."
"You know that it's nourishing you in some way," Corrin said. And while her role is based on a real-life person, she said that, like Page, she had to bring more to Princess Diana than what was in headlines and newspapers. In that way, she treated Diana like a fictional character instead of focusing on making sure she was being completely accurate to every historical detail.
"I felt like I wasn't learning anything new about her that would actually help me artistically when I turn up set to do this job," she said. "But then I got the script, and I sort of had this mad realization that as much as this is Diana, this character is almost fictional. And you should treat it as such."