It's a big day for Bridgerton!
The Netflix romantic drama scored 12 nominations at the 2021 Emmys, including for best drama and lead actor Regé-Jean Page. For creator Chris Van Dusen, the news prompted an unexpected pause.
"I was in the car with my husband and we had just dropped our 3-year-old off at nursery. We were driving home when I started getting texts and emails, and we pulled over," Van Dusen tells E! News of his busy morning. "I think we had a good cry for a couple minutes. I'm so excited and humbled and most of all, I'm proud of this cast and this crew and I'm just filled with tremendous gratitude, honestly."
Van Dusen says it was Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, who first reached out to him, but he's spoken to most of the cast since then—and that includes Page, who chose to leave the show ahead of season two.
"It was such a privilege to work with him," Van Dusen says of the star. "He's our Duke and he will always be our Duke and I know about to continue to charm the world in some really amazing ways. And I couldn't be happier for him."
Page may not be a part of season two, but there's still a whole lot to look forward to as Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) meets his match in Kate Sharma, played by newcomer Simone Ashley.
"I can tell you I just got into the editing bay on the first couple episodes in the second season, and I don't think people are going to be ready," Van Dusen teases. "I think, honestly, it's everything I think audiences loved so much about the first season, but just more. I think we're going to be back with an even greater escape to 19th century Regency London."
Van Dusen describes Bailey and Ashley's chemistry as "magnetic."
"You cannot take your eyes off of them when they're together on screen," he continues. "I can't wait for audiences to see that, or really, to feel that. I'm really excited."
Van Dusen says he's been told by many fans that Kate and Anthony are their favorite couple from the books, and he thinks they won't disappoint.
"There's something special about the two of them, Simone and Jonathan, and I think people will really respond to them," he says. "I've always wanted [the experience of watching the show] to be similar to the experience of reading one of those romance novels in terms of things feeling really sexy and a little dangerous and fun and it being a bit of a wild ride at times, so I think that will always be a part of the Bridgerton special sauce."
Looking back on the Emmy-nominated first season, Van Dusen says he's most proud of how he expanded the world of Bridgerton to make it more diverse, starting with the addition of Queen Charlotte. The real Charlotte was seen by historians as England's first queen of color, and when Van Dusen learned that fact, he knew that was going to be incorporated into the show.
"I think that once I created that character and made the most powerful person in this world a person of color, this fabulous queen, I think everything else started to fall into place for me," he explains. "She really provided the basis for this multi-hued and multi-ethnic society that the show was going to be set in, so I'm really proud of that."
In season two, Kate's family will have come from India, and her last name is now Sharma instead of Sheffield, as it is in the books. Van Dusen says he sees the show as "a chance to marry history and fantasy in a really exciting way," and that's not changing any time soon.
Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.