Regé-Jean Page was the breakout star of Bridgerton season one, released around the holidays in 2020; by New Year’s Eve, everyone was thirsting over him. Two months later he hosted Saturday Night Live. There was a meltdown when it was confirmed he would not return for the second season. From there Regé-Jean used his new popularity to sign onto two major projects: The Gray Man and Dungeons & Dragons.
The Gray Man will be the first time we see RJ onscreen since he played the Duke of Hastings. It’s not a lead role, but this is a Russo brothers movie, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans; it’s good company to be in to set up his post-Bridgerton career. That’s pretty much the same situation with Dungeons & Dragons too. Which means that for RJ it’s ensemble after ensemble after ensemble. I don’t hate this, that he’s not rushing to go full lead right away. Hollywood has always made actors feel like they’re running out of time and that often results in bad career decisions. It’s a good sign that RJ is being deliberate with his choices, even if that means he’s not lining up projects one after the other.
While Regé-Jean Page was the breakout of Bridgerton’s first season, Simone Ashley is the undisputed breakout of the second. And she too was at The Gray Man premiere because, of course, there’s a Netflix connection. She’s the star of one of Netflix’s most valuable properties. The Gray Man is Netflix’s most expensive movie. They want all the hype they can get. And, wow, did Simone bring it with the outfit.
Simone’s Kate Sharma will return for season three of Bridgerton but she too might be taking her time before making a decision about any non-Bridgerton opportunities. Or at least I hope that’s what it is because everyone should be trying to cast her right now – she’s the full package. And if she’s been spending time in LA, presumably she’s taking meetings, not unlike Jung Ho-yeon after the success of Squid Game.
I read an article a few days ago that referred to Millie Bobby Brown as Netflix’s first movie star, the First Lady of Netflix, if you will, which is totally true and I wish I came up with it, but there’s also a whole class of stars that Netflix made. And that class includes Regé-Jean Page and Simone Ashley, both of whom were working on other projects before, of course, but it was the shows on Netflix that really elevated their careers. Same goes for Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Lana Condor and possibly the stars of Heartstopper, all of whom are expected to have big careers.
Will be interesting, then, to see what the legacy of this first class of Netflix stars will be in another decade. I know Netflix is eating a lot of sh-t right now for, well, a lot of its bullsh-t, but it has been an incubator of new and diverse talent. Curious to see if this changes as they overhaul their system.