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Why Simon From Bridgerton Looks So Familiar

When Bridgerton premiered on Netflix in December of 2020, it became a surprise hit overnight (via Fortune). A sexy and provocative period drama with a diverse cast, produced by Shonda Rhimes? What's not to like? While there are some familiar names on the cast list, there are a lot of relative newcomers in main roles. Centered around actress Phoebe Dynevor's character Daphne Bridgerton, the 1813-set drama follows Daphne during the debutante season as she attempts to find a suitable husband. Coming from an influential and well-off family, Daphne has to navigate society and maintain her reputation in order to accomplish her goal.

Here to help is male lead Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, played by British actor Regé-Jean Page. Simon offers to pretend to court Daphne to help her find a good suitor. This relieves some pressure they are both getting from others to marry certain people — or for Simon, to marry at all. Alongside Daphne, many viewers were quickly charmed by Simon, as well as the actor behind the character, and with good reason. Talented and handsome, Page has been working for a while, but this is one of his first major roles. 

Think you've seen Regé-Jean Page before? Here are the biggest roles of his career before hitting the screen in Bridgerton.

Regé-Jean Page earned acclaim for his role in the Roots reboot

Based on the 1976 novel by Alex Haley called Roots: The Saga of an American Family, the 1977 television miniseries Roots told the story of a young African man who is captured and sold into slavery in America, following his life and that of his descendants. The series won many awards and is still seen as one of the most important TV shows ever made. Knowing this, the 2016 remake of Roots was obviously a big task to take on. Starring Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, and many other big names, the new rendition of the classic story received critical acclaim for its updated plots and emotional performances.

In the 2016 remake of Roots, Regé-Jean Page plays the character Chicken George, who was originally played by Ben Vereen in the 1977 version. Sharp and charismatic, Chicken George is known for his skill raising chickens for cockfighting, hence the name. His worldview is shaken when he discovers his enslaver, Tom Lea, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is also his father (via History). After the show's premiere, Page shared that the feedback from viewers was "overwhelming," revealing to Deadline that he was sent many "very personal stories about their journey to finding pride in themselves and their identity in America, particularly as people of color, though not just." Clearly, viewers were able to really connect and empathize with Page and his depiction of Chicken Georgewhich is a fantastic accomplishment for any actor, no matter the role.

Page took on the role of Captain Khora in Mortal Engines

In 2018, Regé-Jean Page went in a completely new direction as Captain Madzimoyo Khora in the steampunk adventure film Mortal Engines. Produced by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings and based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Philip Reeve, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which full cities have been motorized and consume each other to survive (via Variety). A young woman named Hester, played by Hera Hilmar, tries to stop the powers in charge from using their technology to destroy each other, and then the Earth itself.

A minor character in the novel, Page's Captain Khora has a bigger role in the film as the captain of the airships Mokele Mbembe and Mwene Mutapa. Working with the resistance, Khora is a talented aviator and close ally and friend of Anna Fang, a talented spy and leader who is actively fighting against the movie's main antagonist, Thaddeus Valentine, and his drive to consume other cities for power. Mortal Engines bombed at the box office and with critics but was praised for its achievement in visuals. 

For the People features Page as an ambitious young attorney

Clearly, Shonda Rhimes likes Regé-Jean Page, because right before joining Bridgerton, Page was a regular on another Shondaland series called For the People. More like Scandal than Bridgerton, For the People follows a group of young and ambitious new lawyers as they take on high-profile cases in New York City (via ABC). Also starring Hope Davis, Ben Shenkman, and Jasmin Savoy Brown, among others, Page plays Leonard Knox, a new Assistant US Attorney. Talented yet cocky, Knox knows what he wants and goes for it, sometimes to his own detriment.

Premiering in 2018, the ABC series was renewed for a second season, which came out in early 2019. Unfortunately, ABC decided to cancel the legal drama For the People after two seasons. In 2017, Rhimes made a huge deal with Netflix, becoming "the highest-paid showrunner in television," in her own words, as The Hollywood Reporter wrote, though it was soon topped by Netflix's deals with Ryan Murphy, Greg Berlanti, and Kenya Barris. For the People's cancellation by ABC is likely due to low ratings, but Rhimes's deal with Netflix could've factored in. In the end, For the People's cancellation might have been a good thing for Page, as it opened up his schedule to join Shondaland's first Netflix series, Bridgerton.

Regé-Jean Page plays musician Chico Sweetney in Sylvie's Love

Aside from playing Simon, Regé-Jean Page's most recent role is that of Chico Sweetney in Sylvie's Love. Directed by Eugene Ashe and set in the 1950s in Harlem, Sylvie's Love follows Tessa Thompson as Sylvie Parker, a young woman who meets an aspiring saxophonist named Robert Halloway, played by Nnamdi Asomugha. They quickly fall in love with one another. The film, which was only released on December 23, 2020 on Amazon Prime, is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 92 percent rating. Critics cite the film's classic romance and celebration of Black love, as well as the emotional impact and appreciation of the Golden Age of Hollywood, as reasons why Sylvie's Love is worth checking out.

Page is not in a starring role in Sylvie's Love, but he still has an important part. He plays a character named Chico Sweetney, who plays drums in a band alongside Robert and his saxophone. While Sylvie and Robert are growing closer, Chico gets romantic with Sylvie's cousin Mona, played by another Shondaland actor, Aja Naomi King, who played Michaela in How to Get Away with Murder. The film follows these characters through the years as they change and grow, both in their personal, romantic, and professional lives.

If you've already binged all of Bridgerton and are at a loss of what to watch next, Sylvie's Love is a great choice, especially if you are a fan of Page.