(Photo: Getty Images)
Since premiering on Christmas Day, progressive period drama Bridgerton has become a major internet talking point, and Regé-Jean Page is one of its brightest breakout stars. His compelling performance as eligible but troubled bachelor Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, has even seen him added to the growing list of Brits tipped to succeed Daniel Craig as Bond. The 31-year-old actor is definitely one to keep an eye on, so here’s a handy guide recapping his life and career to date.
1. He was born in London, but spent most of his childhood in Zimbabwe.
Page is the son of a Zimbabwean nurse and an English preacher. "I spent my whole life figuring out how to be different people. Zimbabwe's one of the youngest countries in the world; it became independent from British colonialism in the 1980s," he told Interview in 2016. "In America you can still feel the echoes of slavery, and Zimbabwe is very much feeling the echoes of British colonial rule. It's very hard to craft an identity in that environment as a young, mixed raced man. I learned from the age of three that I was a walking political statement. Just by walking around with my face, I was saying, 'My parents did a fairly revolutionary thing that p****s off some of you.'"
2. He began acting when he returned to London at age 14.
"I went to a Saturday school where you would do an hour of dancing, an hour of acting, and an hour of singing," he told Interview. "It's basically childcare – 'Get my loud, attention-seeking child out of my hair for three hours.' I was loud and attention-seeking enough that they put me on their agency on the side. That was my hobby; that was my paper route."
3. He's entirely comfortable shifting between accents.
"My father spoke with something very similar to a 1920s newscaster type of English, and I learnt that accent of power in post-colonial Zimbabwe," Page told Square Mile last year. "So I learnt that, and I learnt how to copy it, and I learnt how to shift in and out of it, but also talk like my mother’s relatives in the village because if you talk like this Englishman over here, then you are not accepted or trusted by your people over here."
4. As a teenager, he formed a punk band with his brother.
Page sang and played the drums in the band, and says he even dyed his hair blue, green, and purple. "As a teenager, the idea of running around, screaming at people was very appealing to me," he told The Fall Mag. "I found comfort in aggression, in breaking through false walls and challenging norms."
He also credits the punk world with altering his outlook on life, adding: "When I got involved in the punk scene, my notion of what a career was changed. I realized that a career in the arts was actually about having the people and community to support you making your art."
5. His first series regular role came in the 10th and final season of BBC high school drama Waterloo Road.
Page played a trainee teacher called Guy Braxton. In the scene below, he demonstrates a pretty nifty right hook.
6. He appears very briefly in 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.
Just last week, Bridgerton fans spotted him standing behind Emma Watson in a wedding scene.
7. You can find him on Instagram (and trust us, he's worth a follow).
Follow @regejean for a glimpse of his lockdown life and behind-the-scenes pics from Bridgerton.
8. He also appeared in the History Channel's 2016 remake of iconic slavery-themed miniseries Roots.
Page won praise for his portrayal of roguish character Chicken George, who was portrayed in the original '70s miniseries by Ben Vereen. "It was a huge responsibility and a massive honor," Page told Harper's Bazaar at the time. "It's a role that I was not originating, it's a role that's already present in millions of people's hearts. It's owned by my audience before I even get to touch it, which is daunting but also hugely exciting. Once you have that weight of responsibility, it means you are being held to the highest standards, which inspires you to do your best work. There is no other option."
9. Before Bridgerton, he starred in another Shonda Rhimes series: For the People.
Page portrayed Leonard Knox, an Assistant US Attorney in New York, during both seasons of the legal drama. As you’ll see in the clip below, his character definitely had the gift of the gab.
10. He's not taking those Bond rumors too seriously.
“I think the internet thinks a lot of things, and that’s one of the more pleasant ones, so I’m pleased as far as that goes,” he said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week.
Page then added modestly: "I think there might be an element of cultural translation to be done here. If you're a Brit and you do something of any kind of renown that people regard well, then people start saying the B-word. It's like a merit badge. You get the B-word merit badge. But I don't think it’s much more than that. I'm glad to have the badge, I'm glad to be in such wonderful company of people who have the badge, but it's a badge.”
Have you enjoyed watching Regé-Jean Page in Bridgerton?