In the Netflix TV series “Bridgerton,” Regé-Jean Page plays Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, a throwback to previous heartthrobs in literature — ranging from Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” to Mr. Darcy in Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice.” But the 31-year-old actor didn’t want the character to be stuck in the past.
“And so, in carrying the torch, we need to make some ground with it,” Page tells “The Crown” star Emma Corrin in Variety’s Actors on Actors TV issue, on newsstands now. “Because Simon’s an archetype that already exists. He’s Darcy. He’s Heathcliff. He’s a tall, dark, brooding, emotionally stunted man.”
In building the character — based on Julia Quinn’s novels set in 1800s England — for modern audiences, Page tried to subvert previous tropes associated with toxic masculinity seen in literature.
“The idea of romantic heroes,” Page says. “When you say the word ‘hero,’ it implies it’s someone you look up to. 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?”
Page continues: “What’s making this meal actually worth eating? I think of ‘Bridgerton’ as a Happy Meal, but with secret vitamins put in there. It’s like a secretly healthy, organic burger.”
“Amazing,” Corrin replies. “You know that it’s nourishing you in some way.”
Variety’s Actors on Actors celebrates the best TV performances of the year. Page paired with Corrin, who also had a breakout 2020 with a Netflix TV show – playing Princess Diana in the fourth season of “The Crown.”
To read more from their conversation, click here.