Regé-Jean Page on Bridgerton: ‘We see the romance of this Regency through a female lens’ | Television & radio

“As an artist, you always have to ask yourself: ‘Why this story? Why now? ‘, Says Regé-Jean Page. The 30-year-old actor is video calling from his Los Angeles apartment and explaining his latest career as the rakishly debonair duke of Hastings in the romance of the Bridgerton Regency era.

Sensitive time drama may not be reinforced by Netflix’s elegant budget as the most important or relevant art choice for Page making. However, he sees the eight-part series as a moving act, due to its diverse cast injecting multiculturalism and a sense of gender boundary into a traditional white setting.

“It’s not a blind color because I don’t think it’s helpful to put brown skin in the show without putting brown people in the show,” says Page. Controversial notion of acting actors based entirely on talent, rather than race, which has led to real issues leading to the dismantling of a race, such as the majestic cast of Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese cyber-human in the 2017 film Ghost in the Shell. “This show is a hilarious, ambitious Cinderella show of love and romance – I don’t know why you wouldn’t invite everyone to come and play there, especially as we serve an audience. global on Netflix. It takes so little imagination to get people involved, instead of the amount of thought and effort it takes to keep people out of those stories. “

Having grown up in Zimbabwe, the child of an interracial couple – his family moved to London when he was 14 – Page has become accustomed to seeing stories that seem like a panoramic view from a vantage point. a stranger. “Zimbabwe was still a relatively young country when I lived there and the post-apartheid society was not re-formed,” says Page. “Being the child of a mixed race in that environment means you have to think about healing your identity and you question why you belong to that world. You’re also not at the center of the globe in Zimbabwe, so you watch those important places like London or New York make their decisions and you ride ripples there as they do. they are the waves for the rest of the world. It is an external view that I have retained in my work and life today. “

This way of thinking – from both the strongest and most marginal point of view – is one that has served Page well in his career so far, especially in his intriguing role playing Chicken George, a slave descendant. Gambian Kunta Kinte, in the 2016 remake of the 70s classic Roots drama. “Roots was a big concern because it is the founding text in the United States and it also fits strongly with almost any black community across the globe,” Page says. “I was asked to see this as a child in Zimbabwe because it is a global history – one we are still thinking about, even if the British can try to separate themselves from that legacy of colonialism and slavery. . ”

That split is something that Page sees Roots – and newer shows like Steve McQueen ‘s Little Ax – as an active part of the deal. They all paint a positive picture of people about color experiences of the western world. “As British people, we rarely take part in history. We are just beginning to do that, ”says Page. “Storytellers have a key role to play in countering that and continuing the conversation. We need to keep up the pace, because we have seen our audience give them something valuable and important. ”

One way in which this movement was sparked last summer of Black Lives Matter protests was through a dance show designed by old friend Lanre Malaolu at the Battersea Arts Center, titled The Stay. “I felt this urge to reconnect with the creative people I knew in London and to contribute to my community at a time when we were all apart,” he said. e. “We made this piece almost as an art for art purposes, but also to try and help our community, because I always ask myself how I can make my skills useful to others. If you get creative enough, you can find out how. ”

Bridgerton, an action group produced by Shonda Rhimes – the co-creator of long-running soap operas such as Gray’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder – could be a world away from Page’s visual exploration of real- identity and history in Don’t Wait and Roots. But Page thinks otherwise. “You will understand that these characters are dealing with real 21st century problems in the show; people have always had the same desires and needs, whether it is 200 years ago or now, it is just dressed in different clothes and shaped by different social constraints, ”He says. “We see this Regency romance through the lens of a woman, exploring what violence means for a broken antihero like my character and how he can then allow himself to change and be loved. ”

The result is a fundamental shift of the romance genre, giving female characters more of a role as the main speaker Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, and her explorations of sexuality, while at the same time weaving in another Regency society heterogeneous statement. Of course, all of this is still wrapped up in the immersive melodrama that audiences have come to expect from the genre and the Bridgerton novels, written by Julia Quinn, create something of a tonal sawing scene from romance to romance. study of race and class.

“Ultimately, you have to meet a reasonable position on screen with a bit of imagination as an observer, because that’s what creates a story. The second thing you do in this show is you lose yourself, ”says Page. With Bridgerton launching on Christmas Day, it is hoped that viewers will come across the series as “a warm hug Regency – an amazing fantasy of desire and romance and a reminder of the joys of social connection in a year where it was difficult for us to be able to see one another and could still ”.

Having been divided between the US and the UK for the past five years, Page remains unsure about his Christmas plans, which are subject to lockout restrictions. Whether in London or LA, however, he eagerly awaits audience feedback for a turn in the show, as well as for a smaller role in the romance of Sylvie’s Love, which is hosted. by 50s, arranged. “I set aside time to communicate with people and just reflect on the year, to see what stories I’m telling next.”

Bridgerton is on Netflix on December 25th. Sylvie’s Love is on Amazon Prime Video on December 23rd