Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page has declared he’s “flattered” to be tipped as the next James Bond, just days after quitting the hit Netflix show.
The Londoner became an overnight star as Simon, Duke of Hastings in the raunchy Regency-era romantic drama series.
But now, having left millions of Bridgerton heartbroken with the news he won’t be returning for series two, Rege-Jean is being linked with one of Britain’s most iconic ever roles: 007.
Bookies Coral on Tuesday made him favourite to be the new Bond, putting him on odds of 5/2 and previous favourites Tom Hardy and Granchester’s James Norton joint second at 3/1. Everyone else is now 10/1 or below.
And Rege-Jean, who spent a lot of his childhood in his mother’s native Zimbabwe, certainly doesn’t mind the speculation about becoming Daniel Craig’s successor.
Speaking exclusively, he said: “Ah, the B word. I think that if you are British and you do anything of note, that other people take notice of, then people will start talking about that.”
The 31-year-old added: “I think that’s fairly normal and I’m flattered to be in the category of Brits that people have noticed.”
Showing the discretion of a MI6 Agent, Rege-Jean continued: “Nothing more – or less – than that.”
He added: “I think the concept of having plans in this moment in history is mildly hilarious. So I’ve given up on making them.”
Rege-Jean is the son of a Zimbabwean-born nurse mother and an English preacher father, and was sent as an over-energetic youngster to a Saturday acting school in London, which led him to the National Youth Theatre, which led him to his career.
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He paid his dues in shows like Waterloo Road, and was first seriously noticed playing Chicken George, the handsome and theatrical slave owner’s son, in the 2016 American television mini-series Roots. He caught the eye of Grey’s Anatomy boss Shonda Rhimes, and she chose him to be her dashing Duke in Bridgerton, her first series for Netflix.
It became the streamer’s biggest hit to date with a reported 82 million households binge-watching all eight episodes in the month after its Christmas Day release. It also made Regé-Jean an overnight sex symbol – which Rege-Jean, reported to be in a relationship with London-based footballer Emily Brown, finds rather disconcerting.
Indeed, he guards his love life, rather like Bond would guard a state secret.
“I’m never desperate to be a socialite,” he said, declining to speak about Emily. “I try to do no harm, get on with people as well as possible, but I’m a bit of a homebody.
“I think I can be a bit of a racehorse, to be honest. I do enjoy my work and I like to turn up for it and put my blinders on and just run towards where I need to be without thinking about anything else – I’m very focused and almost one-track-minded in that sense.
“Sometimes people ask me what my hobbies are, and the answer is that acting is my hobby. It always had been – it’s just that I’ve ended up making my living off it.”
Craig, 53, announced that his fifth Bond film No Time To Die would be his last, after first taking over the prestigious role from Pierce Brosnan with 2006’s Casino Royale. His final Bond movie – the 25th in the franchise – has been hit by a series of delays, including a change of director and his own injury, even before the pandemic closed cinemas.
It was originally meant to be released in early 2020 but is now hoped to hit cinema screens this Autumn.
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