novelist Helen Fielding created the character of Bridget Jones, she
caused a sensation by revealing to the world a contemporary single
woman’s secret diary. Yet, despite all the success, Fielding felt Ms.
Jones had more stories to tell. The author decided to take Bridget on a
new journey – transporting her from rampant romantic fantasy to
romantic reality. "With Edge of Reason, there was a chance to look at a
well loved character in a new way," notes producer, Eric Fellner.
Bridget now throws herself into a new relationship and new career
challenges (not to mention out of a plane!).
Renée Zellweger (Bridget) was also prepared to do her own stunts, which
get more and more daring as her newsroom assignments become more
outrageous. The stunts included parachuting into a pig pen in a yellow
and orange flight suit. "That was a hilarious day," recalls Renée. "I
learned more about pigs than I ever wanted to know!" In other scenes,
our heroine also had to side step, slide and tumble down an Austrian ski
mountain, perform a vamping Madonna imitation in a Bangkok jail, and
waddle across the room wearing a skintight gold dress that impedes all
hip movement. "For me, this role was a great chance to do physical
comedy," she comments. "A vital element of being Bridget is expressing
The parachuting sequence was shot in South East England and resulted in
Renée being suspended from a 20-foot crane by wires and spending hours
in a mud-splashed pig pen – all work she did herself. "She impressed
me right away with her willingness to not only do her own stunt work but
to fall over, put her face into the mud and cavort with animals," laughs
director, Beeban Kidron.
Meanwhile, Bridget’s flat was recreated on an Ealing soundstage, with
production designer Gemma Jackson adding just a few new touches to the
design she first created for Bridget Jones’s Diary… namely an even
vaster collection of self-help books! "We really wanted to keep the look
of Bridget’s flat, because it’s so reflective of her," she explains.
"It has the look of a place that belongs to someone who’s searching."
Integral to the romantic side of the story is Mark Darcy (Colin Firth),
who manages to work up the courage to ask Bridget on her first ever
ski-break – then breaks the mood by also inviting Bridget’s nemesis,
Rebecca, who of course flows downs the slopes like a rosy-cheeked pro.
This portion of the story was shot in Austria’s Tyrol using the famed
ski resort at Lech. For the skiing sequences, the cameras were towed by
Snowcats halfway up the mountain.
Meanwhile, Renée had to concentrate on making her way down in
disastrous Bridget style. "At first, we brought in a very experienced
skier and stunt woman… only to realise it just wasn’t right,"
recalls Kidron. "Renée has a unique body language for Bridget that is
so comedic and so much a part of the role that we had to let her do the
BEEBAN KIDRON –
LA, OCTOBER 2004
Q: Did you shoot a lot of extra material that didn't make it into the movie, but that will be seen on the DVD?
A: Yeah, I'm quite excited about the DVD. I've been making films long enough to have made plenty of films where the deleted scenes were just deleted and never seen. Of course, for a director, it's an absolute joy to be able to offer these things because it's very rare that the reason the scene gets deleted is because it's no good. I think that's the public perception. Things get deleted because they hold up the story or they feel repetitious, or maybe we just don't have the time. But often you have to cut some of your absolutely favourite bits. I can absolutely guarantee that the DVD is fantastic because there are three or four of my favourite scenes that had to come out of the movie but are on the DVD.
Q: Is there also some funny, behind the scenes footage on the DVD?
A: I think my favourite behind the scenes piece that they've done for the DVD is all of Colin's comments about Hugh and Hugh's comments about Colin. They are absolutely vicious and horrible to each other but the way it's cut together is hilarious. They are just so rude about each other, and it's intercut with us shooting the fight scene. It ends up with Colin saying Hugh was always complaining about hurting, and then they cut to a piece of Hugh clutching his back and me going to comfort him. It's a genuinely funny
Q: What do you want the audience to know about making the movie when they
are watching the DVD?
A: I'm always amazed myself at how long it takes, how much attention to detail is needed and what a huge effort it is to get to the top of the mountain to shoot these sequences, which may only be a couple of minutes when it comes to the finished film. I think the whole DVD culture has really expanded peoples' comprehension about what we go through to make the films. I have to say that the major relationship all of us have is with the audience. It doesn't matter if it is Renée, Hugh, Colin, me, the production designer or the writer; we do this to entertain people. We do this so people to understand the world in a slightly different way. We do this so people have a good evening. That's why we do it, and in a funny way it invites the audience into a little bit of our world which makes that relationship that much closer.
Q: What is your favourite scene that you will watch again and again on the DVD?
A: I think I already watched all the scenes over and over and I don't want to watch them anymore! But I hope if we have time on the DVD that there will be something of an explanation of how I conceived my favourite shot and how many hundreds of people helped me build the shot that starts with Renée and goes out all across London and ends up with Colin. That was something that was really a gift from Eric Fellner, the producer, to me, because it was a very expensive and risky thing to do. But I had a sort of vision about it really early on in the process and I went to Eric and
said," I would like to build this shot, you won't know for seven months whether it's fantastic or terrible, and what's more it can be very expensive". He
said," How does it work? Why do you want it and how are we going to do it?" I answered all three of those questions and he said, "OK, let's give it a go." A number of people have told me how much they enjoyed that particular shot and for me that's fantastically gratifying because it was something very, very special. It's a shot you get in action movies, not in romantic comedies. I think it's about time we stole a little bit of technology for ourselves.
Q: Do you mind if I ask you where your name comes from?
B: Well the truth of it is that my father thought it was the name of an Indian princess but he was mistaken. And in fact it means nothing at all. I found it quite gratifying when a friend of mine called her daughter Beeban after me because I thought "Now there's two of us, now it's legit." (laughs) But it's nonsense. But it is on my birth certificate.
Q: You've started a trend.
B: Yeah, (laughs) A trend of two.
Q: What kind of guy do you prefer?
B: I think the great thing about fantasy and comedy is you don't quite have to choose. I know none of my girlfriends had any sympathy for the hard work that went into Bridget Jones, because they pointed out I was going to spend all day with Hugh and Colin. I don't think I've chosen either actually (laughs). My husband is an intellectual and a writer and he very rarely leaves the house. (laughs)
Q: Tell us about the decision to make Rebecca a lesbian. Don't you think that's too easy a solution?
B: I think thematically the film was really about the idea of 'here it is, you're at the end of the movie, what's going to happen next’, and there should be a good bit
now". It should be where you relax, you have chosen and now you discover whether this is really the thing of your life. Instead she goes into worry mode and I think Rebecca's not the only thing she gets wrong. She gets wrong what Mark Darcy expects of her, she gets wrong who he really is and how perfect he's supposed to be.
Q: Isn't it too clean?
B: You think it's too clean? You know, that's fair enough. I think so many romantic comedies deal with the supposed threat of a lover in the background. It felt like a very clear way of saying it. If it was too clear than maybe you're more sophisticated than some. I don't know what to say.
Q: The movie also drifts away from the book. How intentional was it, what do you think about it now, and what did Helen Fielding think about it?
B: I think there are two things we were following in a way. We were following another movie which drifted away from the first book actually. It was quite a different beast from the first book. And we had that strand, so on the one hand we're following the movie and on the other hand we have this book which we're adapting, so I think we're taking from both of those strands and perhaps it's a mix of the two. I was very much a part of that choice but everybody wanted to make that choice - to have Daniel Cleaver in the movie. I think we all felt that Bridget Jones would be less without Daniel Cleaver in the mix. And therefore, there wasn't room for a lot of things in the book, just by necessity. As for Helen, I think that she is the seed of all of this and it is a very personal thing to her. I think that she will eventually write a third book and because she's just had a baby, Bridget's bound to too. She writes a fictional account of her own experiences. So the diversion of the first film from the book was one challenge for Helen and the diversion again in this one is another, but when she came to see the movie I think she felt overwhelmed that Bridget has such an incredible life beyond her. It is an amazing thing to be the inventor of a character who then becomes so iconic in the world that, I don't know about around the world, but certainly in the UK, not a week goes by without the papers referring to a
"Bridget-ism" or "in the Bridget way" or "like Bridget Jones". She is referred to as a cultural icon. We have an understanding of who that is and I think that Helen felt this movie was part of all of that. She has sort of, not in a negative sense but in a great sense, created a monster, something enormous.
Q: We understand there were some problems with the script?
B: The thing is when they first decided to adapt the novel it was three years ago and various people had a go. There were a whole series of people, and they were very anxious, with reason, about following the other movie. There was a lot of disagreement, even before I came on board, about what should be in, what should be out, what the tone was and so on, and I think that created a culture of insecurity around the script. In fact when it came to shooting there was not a huge amount of rewriting. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all - I've made movies where all the work was done and we set the script. I've also made movies like this, where there was input as it went. The thing that is specific to Hugh is that Hugh is actually very, very serious about comedy, timing and words and he often tries a lot of different words and a lot of different jokes within a scene. Often I had half a dozen lines to choose from in some of Hugh's scenes, and he would try something or say something, and I'd say "Ooh can you put this one with that one," He actually builds his comedy and he is very, very serious about that. I know films where there really is a lot of rewriting and it wasn't really like that. There was just a lot of good input.
Q: Some of the changes included the scene that's in the book with Colin Firth. And in one of the rewrites you had it with a different star?
B: Yeah. The people who love that book love that scene so much. At one point we were inundated with emails from Working Title saying 'please can you do the Colin Firth interview?' and it was a matter of great concern because how could we do it? People wanted to know how we would deliver it. The trouble is that every way we tried to deliver the scene, it ultimately broke the fourth wall, took you out of the film, took the emotional beats away and it never actually survived in the body of the film. One night I asked Renee to stay in character and I asked Colin to come as himself and we did shoot Bridget interviewing Colin Firth, which will go on the DVD, so a version of it does exist!.
Q: He was saying how much he was dreading playing himself. How was he in it?
B: I know. I haven't told him that it's on the DVD! (laughs) Please don't tell him. Don't bust me guys, don't bust me! It's very funny.
Q: Do you have any filmmakers that inspired you in setting up the tone?
B: No, I had a very strong feeling about an emotional tone and a relationship between comedy and emotion. If the beats of the emotional journey were true then it was okay to be six inches above the ground in terms of its tone and its comedy and so on. I think all filmmakers are kleptomaniacs. I guess that every movie I've ever seen in my whole life, all of whose names I don't remember, are in there somewhere.
Q: But is there a director who has inspired you in your career?
B: You know, Bergman is one of my absolute favourites but he wasn't particularly useful on this account. What you take in is not necessarily what you put out. And I used to absolutely love, this is not to do with Bridget but for me as a director, Fellini and DeSica - these guys had a magical quality in their work in that they dealt with realism but not naturalism as I saw it in my mind. And the fantasy of real life and all of that territory was what I loved the most as a punter. But that is very different from what I am trying to do here.
Q: Renee seems fatter in this movie, especially in the beginning, and I think the character should be more paranoid about being fat. Don't you think you guys overdid it this time?
B: I think that the truth of it is that she is fatter than she is in some scenes in the first movie and thinner than she is in other scenes. If you really care about this particular aspect, which people do seem to care about phenomenally (laughs), people have been absolutely obsessive about it from the minute we started this project. Actually she went up and down a lot more in the first movie. She lost a little weight in Thailand because of the heat and she lost a little weight going up and down the Alps, but for the most part, once she hit this weight, she actually stayed there. I think maybe some of her clothes make her look fatter or thinner or whatever, but actually she was pretty on the money from the beginning to the end.
Q: How much did she weigh?
B: I don't know. You’d have to ask her.
Q: There's no prosthetic underneath?
B: No, no, look at her coming out of the sea, that's belly, man. The film is less about weight than it was, and it's more about the neurosis of trying to make a new relationship, so as she goes through her life, her neuroses are changing a little bit, she's also less worried about her alcohol intake than she was before. She has some other things to worry about now, but I think what's interesting to me is that a lot of people say to me "Oh, she looks so great like that as Bridget. We love her like that. We think she's sexy and gorgeous and available" and now when you see her today she's so mignon, a tiny little thing, dark hair, absolutely beautiful in another sense. In a funny way, it serves the metaphor of the film if you like, that actually Renée inside is the same person, fat or thin, dark or blonde, and actually it's what she puts out into the world that’s important.
Q: Did you have any bad experiences or were any scenes particularly difficult?
B: You know, all my bad experiences on this particular film were of a technical nature and probably of no interest to anybody, but we had huge problems without film stock and the most horrendous theories about lack on a technical level, that made it very difficult in post production. We battled to make the print as beautiful as it should be, it was just terribly
difficult. But actually I was very prepared for the difficult scenes. You know, you plan these things. The difficult thing was the skiing and being on a boat in Thailand. Those were the difficult things. We planned it within an inch of our lives and it went very well. What was really difficult in the end was that we had completely underestimated what people felt for these three characters. For three years they've been waiting for Daniel and Mark and Bridget. And when we went out onto the streets of London in the early part of filming in September 2003, people stopped. They didn't just stop for five minutes and have a look, they stopped! And then they wouldn't go to bloody work again! Hundreds and hundreds of people stopped on the street to watch Bridget Jones filming and it became almost like theatre by the end! I’d say 'cut' and they’d all cheer, then some drunk would come on, he'd be arrested. In the first couple of weeks I turned to Eric and said, "I don't want to deprive anybody of anything, but I think we're going to have to get proper security here, clear the street and behave like you behave in New York, you just shut the block down and you take over the space." Because there is no such thing as discretion when it comes to shooting Bridget Jones in London. I don’t think anybody, anybody could have anticipated it. There were certain scenes where I actually felt like I was being pushed back off my own set with the camera, because there were so many people there, which, from the actors' point of view, was just horrific.
Q: I want to ask you about one scene in the Thai prison when they make fun of Thai women being raped and drugged by their husbands. I want to know if you had a queasy feeling shooting that scene?
B: I slightly dispute your analysis. I think the scene is actually making fun of Bridget for worrying about the things she's worrying about, when there are real issues in the jail. Now, I don't wish to defend it on a proper, serious basis. I think that the audience is pretty sophisticated. I think the audience knows that this is Bridget Jones and her worst fear of going to Thailand in a comedy is ending up in a Thai jail, right? I think that the film is absolutely sympathetic to the women and that their reaction, which is a complete comedy reaction of "Oh, he doesn't love you anymore and oh, yes, you're in the same boat as us," is absolutely understood by the audience as being the other way around. And when Bridget goes "I've been a big bad fool," everybody's with what that is. So I would not wish to say that I feel cavalier about that scene, and in fact one of my favourite responses when we got the cards back that you do in the beginning was "Please don't make it PC! Please don't cut out all the naughty bits!" And I hope that all of you guys and your peers do give us some credit in that actually we go and have a leading actress from Hollywood on magic mushrooms, we tell naughty jokes, we do this stuff in Thailand and so on. We have a reverence that is a point of pleasure for the audience and a point of congratulation from the media and again, I speak personally and not corporately, but I'm so fed up with all these perfect movie moments out there and I think that is why the audience loves Bridget. That is why I wanted to make it a little bit more dangerous than perhaps it would have been easy to be. There was a lot of discussion about all of these things, the lesbianism, the Thai jail, the drugs, and the "can she kiss three people in one movie?"
Q: Have you already chosen your next project, and if not, what would you like to do?
B: I keep on saying I'd like to do the next James Bond but for some reason they won't let me. I guess that ski sequence just wasn't good enough! (laughs). I know it seems ludicrous, it certainly seems ludicrous to my family, that this has taken two years to do.
Q: I understand there are piracy issues with movies. How do you keep it a secret and how can you trust the people you work with?
B: None of the people who had access in post production would ever work again if they ever did anything. In a way, on the inside, because people are both professional and bizarrely committed beyond reason to the projects they work on, that everybody enjoys being the people who have Bridget and who know Bridget, who see it and own it before it comes out, that there never was any question about my immediate crew. They're so dedicated that I can't imagine any one of them ever letting one tiny bit out. But we stamp everything and put locks on everything and people are not allowed to have pieces of the film until it comes out. We’re not going to help them.
Q: Considering the anticipation of this film and these characters, were you surprised that all three major players had reservations about making this film and did those reservations become a thing of the past when you started shooting?
B: No, I'm not surprised. I think you could talk about their talent but you can also say that I was graced with a particularly intelligent cast and they'd be idiots not to consider for themselves whether a)it was a good thing for the world, and b)whether it was a good thing for each of them individually to do this again. These are people with choices, these are people who are not going to go without a job if they don't make Bridget Jones. So it's really a question of whether this was the right thing to do for themselves, but actually each and every one of them was concerned about whether it was the right thing to do for the Bridget phenomena, because it exists in the world almost beyond them. I mean, it went beyond Helen, and then it went beyond them in a way. Bridget has become this iconic thing.
Q: If one of them had not accepted, would you have you done it anyway?
B: That was never really a question, it was all three or nothing I think. By the time we got to filming, a lot of those issues had been sorted out, but there were definitely days where each and every one of us thought, "am I going to disappoint the audience? Could we take what was precious to people and keep it
going?" I think you have to be phenomenally arrogant or phenomenally stupid not to have that as a little rhythmic beat in your head or your heart while you're doing something like that. I never thought I'd shoot a sequel and in the end I don't feel it's so much a sequel as The Edge of Reason; another movie, and that's a decision I made for myself, very early on, that I would put that one at the door, just make a movie and not worry about it. I think that probably all three of those actors also thought that they would never make a sequel and here they were doing it, so it was a challenge, I think.
Q: One of the things in the book which is not in the movie is that Bridget loses weight in the book. What would Bridget Jones think of you not letting her lose weight?
B: I think that we really wanted to move on from the obsession about weight. I think it was important that she was back to her size, but part of her growing up is not only be obsessed about her body, but to also be obsessed about her relationship.
Q: How do you think Renée does as a Londoner?
B: Obviously I was not there for the first round of this when everybody was insulted that we couldn't find an English actress. Since Bridget came out in the first movie, we have, as we conveniently do, forgotten entirely that she is a Texan, and we consider her one of our national treasures. It's almost confronting to suggest to an English person that Renée is somehow, not English, because we feel that Bridget, Renée, and the whole gamut somehow belongs to us. She is one of our national treasures at this point.
COLIN FIRTH – LA, OCTOBER 2004
Q: Are there some deleted scenes with you that you would've wanted to see in the movie but ended up on the DVD?
A: There was a scene that I was fond of that went out. Funny enough, it was a scene that we had in the first one as well but it went out then too, these scenes never seem to make it to the final cut of any film! They're different versions of the same scene but in it she's looking for her phone. She has lost her cell phone, and it's in a room in someone's house and she can't find it, it's under cushions somewhere, so she picks up the house phone and dials the number so she can hear it ring. Of course it stops before she can find it, she tries again, then she turns around and I've picked it up and answered it. She says:
"Hello?" and I say: "Bridget Jones's phone", she turns around and there I am. We've broken up so it's tense. In the first film there was a scene similar to this, but that didn't even make it to the DVD deleted scenes and someone told me that the reason for that was that they were saving it for the sequel. Of course it didn’t make it to the sequel, but I think it will be on the deleted scenes.
Q: If cameras were not rolling who do you think would win the fight scene?
A: Hugh said that I would win as I have so much rage because of my jealousy of his career. But I can honestly say that that rage didn't kick in until I was grabbing him and felt, what I thought was his bicep, and it was actually his wallet. And right there was his per diem package…that's when the rage kicked in.
Q: Beeban told me that you do a funny behind the scenes commentary with Hugh on the DVD. What can you tell about that?
A: Do we? I have no recollection of it. Hugh and I have had a stitch going on for a long time and we've never been nice to each other really. 20 years…there's no reason to be really, he's just an appalling person. (smiles)
Q: What do you want people to know about making this movie when they watch the DVD?
A: I have to say that I find it fascinating watching the DVD features and back stage stuff but I don't think they should ever reveal anything. I think the magic should be as it is. I think it's tantalizing to get glimpses behind the scenes but I like to see the mystery preserved as a whole. However, I suppose the thing that interests me most is hearing the directors, writers or people talking about their concept of what's going on, because quite often when I'm working with them it's certainly a mystery to me. I've actually found it priceless and incredibly useful if I'm going to work with the director. I can rent his films and hear him talk his way through and you really learn something about him you didn't know. So as a research tool it's absolutely fantastic. It's become a very big, real part of filmmaking now, that you do it for the camera but you also do it for the DVD. It's interesting to see what happens to people on a film set if the documentary people are there because everyone starts acting. Suddenly everyone's an actor; makeup artists are actors, directors are actors. I've actually sometimes worked with a director and their behaviour changes in front of my eyes when I turn away. Suddenly, he's put his glasses on and started to point a lot like he is possessed by some incredibly lofty thought. And I'm
like:" What the hell just happened?" and then you see there's a camera over there, suddenly he is ‘The Director’. And actors do the same. Times have changed, we're acting in different fronts now.
Q: How much Colin is there in Mr. Darcy?
C: Um, not very much. I don't think many people are very like Mark Darcy, really. I'm an actor. And he's about the least likely person who'd ever be an actor. He's incapable of expressing himself. He doesn't like to demonstrate anything. He doesn't like to speak much. He likes to operate quietly behind closed doors as much as possible. And he's devoted to helping other people and those things don't describe actors very well really. I'm demonstrative. I'm not afraid to speak. I am in a profession which hopefully has something altruistic about it, but is very self-seeking and I think we operate on a very different emotional level.
Q: He sounds like quite a boring person?
C: I don't know. I think he can be a desperately boring person up to a point, but I don't think that the description I just gave should mean that he's boring. I think that someone who is doing extraordinary things to help other people and not talking about it, is rather fascinating.
Q: What about the interview scene that's in the book but not in the movie. Were you disappointed that you didn't have a chance to play yourself?
C: I'm delighted I didn't have the chance to play Colin Firth. I wouldn't know how to play him. There's nothing more difficult than playing yourself. When people say "Do you like such-and-such an actor? He always plays himself!" I think "Christ, he must be talented!"
Q: We read that they were considering putting the interview scene in the movie. What do you think about it?
C: I wasn't much of a party to that really. It was never going to be Colin Firth, the actor in the movie. But I did see a script version where there was a scene featuring a different celebrity when Bridget does the interview and there's another little sub-plot there to the story. I wasn't a party to the decision of putting it in or taking it out really. I had very little interest in it.
Q: Do you think you have been stuck with aristocratic roles?
C: Yeah, I got stuck with an aristocratic thing, and I'm not. When I got established I played an upper-class character at the beginning of my career and got associated with it - I was very happy to be associated with anything at all, because the most likely thing that's going to happen to you when you leave drama school is that you'll never work, ever. So being pigeon-holed was not my worst fear. I was very happy to be pigeon-holed because it gives you a lot more room to manoeuvre than total unemployment.
Q: Are you tired of it yet?
C: No, not really, there's some room to manoeuvre, and I love playing aristocrats. I'm doing plenty of other stuff actually in between, that's perhaps not as conspicuous as the other stuff you're aware of, but there's plenty to keep me interested.
Q: When you finished drama school you were happy to work but then you get recognized. Do you have the same problems as Hugh Grant as far as privacy goes?
C: I did have some problems with it. I think Hugh has lived with it at a very intense level for a much longer time than I have. Hugh has a different life and it attracts people for different reasons. It's definitely an issue and there's a lot about it that's no fun. It opens some doors for you, but it can be incredibly restricting, particularly if you have a family and if you value a life outside this business. I don't feel the fact that I'm an actor and I tell stories gives anybody the right to have any other access to my life at all. I feel I should be able to do that job and go home at the end of the day.
Q: But do you understand peoples' interest?
C: Yes, I do. Because I think that we're all illusionists and I think we reach people. If we're doing our job properly, we have the capacity to reach people on some level and that creates an emotional response which can be intimate in some ways, and I think people want to pursue that. It's human instinct to, it's a kind of mystery that you want to get behind. I think one of the reasons I was attracted to the profession, or at least one of the first moments for me was when I went to see a play which my father had directed for a school he was teaching at, called "The Insect Play," an absurdist play. This was in the '60s, I was probably about six years old. I think it was my first time in the theatre. It was about a society of people as insects and the set was in very beautiful colours and there were holes that the insects came in and out of. And what fascinated me more than anything was where they went when they went through the hole. I wanted to go deeper into that because there was an illusion of a whole labyrinth behind there. So I was taken back stage and I went into one of the holes and of course there was a wall and some cables, nothing was back there. But even that was fascinating and mysterious to me. You want to get back there, there won't be anything there, but people want to know. It’s like novelists who write something incredibly personal. You pick up the novel, you read it, and you make this connection. You think "Christ that's me he's writing about. I want to meet this guy." And then you meet the person and they’re just a normal person with all the usual barriers. There's no great intimacy there, you just met a stranger, and probably the best you'll ever know him is by going back and reading the book again. And I think that we do that - somebody gets curious about the character I play and that leads them to be curious about me. They're not really going to satisfy their curiosity knowing about my very ordinary life. If there's any magic at all, it's there, it's not behind the acting.
Q: What do you think about Bridget and your character?
C: They conform to archetypes to some extent. I suppose they have their distant roots in Jane Austen and the first film, described in sketch form as the Pride and Prejudice narrative brought into a modern setting and using it to make a comedy of manners out of modern anxieties. It basically concentrates on the anxieties of an urban, professional person in a sexually liberated society where we have a lot of choice and a lot of freedom.
Q: Women seem to have all these anxieties and men don't?
C: They do, they do. Part of what defines Bridget is that she's convinced that nobody else has her problems, she thinks she's fat and no one else is, she thinks she has no composure and everyone else does. Everyone has got partners and she hasn't. And that men don't have the problems she does. But that's Bridget's view, that's a skewed view.
Q: What are the problems men have?
C: Men worry about their weight as well. Men worry about whether they're going to find someone who loves them as well. Men worry about making social faux pas as well. I don't think any of those problems are exclusive to women.
Q: Are they eager to marry?
C: Some are, some aren't. I know some women who run screaming from commitment and I know men who very much want it, one of my very best friends from my childhood dreamed about marriage and children all through his teens. It may be a bit unusual, but he did. And he got married very young and had children and did it.
Q: And he's still married?
C: No, she left him. [laughter]
Q: So women like the bad boys in the end?
C: I don't know what happens in the end. The end is the crucial thing here. As we see now, the ending to the last film wasn't the ending, and we don't know if this is the ending in their lives. I don't know who women like in the end and I think the implication of this is that there's no "in the end."
Q: Would you fall for Bridget?
C: I've been dodging that question because I don't think you can be hypothetical about who you fall for really. I can answer it by saying I think she's an attractive character. I haven't fallen in love and married a Bridget Jones particularly, no more than everybody has a bit of Bridget Jones. I don't know. But it's entirely plausible to fall in love with somebody like Bridget, I do find her an attractive character, yes.
Q: You're the good guy with a capital G and Hugh Grant is a bad guy with a capital B. Do you think you will be a prisoner of the good guy role more than he will be a prisoner of the bad guy role?
C: No, because I'm not and I've played so many bad guy characters that I couldn't possibly think of myself as a prisoner of it really. I mean Hugh's managed to break free from the good guy of the Notting Hill variety with this character quite effectively. In the film Trauma where I put a tarantula into someone's mouth and strangle her to death, that doesn't quite fit into the good guy character. And the genocidal Nazi that I played in Conspiracy three years ago wasn't that nice a man either really. And the guy I'm playing at the moment who is a variety performer who takes a heckler outside and almost kills him by bashing his head onto the floor doesn’t either, so, I've done a variety of roles. Some of them have been good guys. Some of them have been boring and ordinary people. Some of them have been bad guys.
Q: Have you ever worn a reindeer sweater?
C: You're asking an actor if he's ever worn anything ridiculous and been embarrassed about it? Yes. I've never worn a reindeer sweater and my mother has fortunately never imposed anything quite as ghastly on me as that. I have to say it was quite extraordinary, walking on to a film set wearing that sweater for the first time. I was a walking piece of comedy really. The only thing I had to do to sell it was to appear to have absolutely no sense of humour about it whatsoever.
Q: How was working with Scarlett Johansson?
C: Wonderful. It was great. Most actors are decent, professional people. We're obviously actors here, but on the whole if there is any truth in the mythology that actors are bitchy, shallow, stupid people, then I've been continually lucky in avoiding them. I've usually found them well meaning, highly intelligent, very professional people, who enjoy the collaborative process. I mean, it is a collaborative process. If anyone is a diva or difficult or reclusive during the process, it sabotages it, makes it next to impossible. So to make this work at all, you have to be easy to get along with. That's been my experience and the girl you just mentioned is an extremely good example of that.
Q: What do you think about the decision to make Rebecca a lesbian?
C: That's a very difficult question (laughs). I think it was a very good decision! No, I don't know. I don't know. I don't think I've ever had a strong opinion on the subject to be honest. I think it creates a plot twist that serves a purpose at a particular point. We have to find something conclusive that scientifically finds Bridget's fears to be unfounded. And that was the device they used.
Q: But that's leading to a catfight?
C: No, because it's the end of the film. The fight's over. If there's another story there'll be another one. It was like my character's something of a device, that was a device, she was an object of threat and jealousy. And I think that once Bridget has overcome some of her demons and woken up to the fact that this man loves her, she's earned the right to find out that the threat wasn't real. And that's how she finds out. This is a comedy. It's fairly broad in it's convention and I think devices like that are perfectly permissible really. It's in the realm of the absurd.
Q: Colin, if you weren't acting, what do you think you'd be doing today?
C: I don't know. I think I might be sleeping in a cardboard box underneath a bridge or something. I think most actors should shiver when they get asked 'what might have become of me?' I'd like to think that I would've become a great musician or writer or something instead and I certainly would have tried to be something like that if this hadn't worked out.
Q: You're a creative person?
C: Yeah, those were very much my ideas at the time.
Q: Do you want to write and direct movies?
C: It's not my dream. I enjoy writing. I do it as a sort of hobby and I've been published a few times in small ways. And I enjoy the process. It's very solitary. It's something I find very hard to find the discipline for when other things keep me occupied and I'm doing quite well. I would need to get much more serious about it to apply that. My fantasy was not to write movies, it was to write prose.
Q: When the transformation happened from an actor to a star, did you realize it was coming?
C: No. There are all sorts of things that happened to me along the way. I left drama school and got myself into a very high profile piece of theatre in the West End and that felt like stardom at the time. I'd gone from being a student to having my picture on the poster and performing to 1500 people in a theatre in London. It seemed like the big time. I mean, how much better and bigger can it get? And then I got a movie role in another country and that felt like stardom. "Now I'm in a movie in the Cannes Film Festival!" You know, these things carry on, they feel like breaks, where high profile things happen. You get an incredible job but then the film flops. Those things happened to me for a good ten years before Pride and Prejudice came along. That definitely got me household recognition which I'd never had before, but it didn't come absolutely out of the blue for me really. I didn't see it coming with that, every time I work I have no idea whether this is going to be good or whether it's going to be an embarrassment.
Q: Is it fair to say you were quite disappointed with this script initially?
C: It didn't go quite that way for me actually. I was so against the idea of doing a sequel that I...
C: Because I don't want to repeat myself. You’re constantly under pressure to repeat yourself. In film a lot of people have a lot of money at stake, and when they hire you they don't want you to display versatility, they want to know what they're getting. They want it proved. Your last film is your audition to this one, and people don't want to take risks. So I didn't want to pursue it. I didn't want to do the same thing again. When the script came through I actually thought it had some possibilities. I didn't think it was perfect. I didn't think it was ready. But I wasn't disappointed because I didn't have a high expectation. I had a very low expectation.
Q: Does Hugh rewrite more than he lets on?
C: No I don't thinks he rewrites more than any of us.
Q: Oh you did too?
C: Yeah. But I mean, he's got his own sense of humour which he likes to apply to things.
Q: Would you take a role in a blockbuster movie?
C: I'm not going to say no in the abstract. I'm an Englishman and I'm more likely to get the bad guy than the good guy in a blockbuster movie because they have to have English accents. You know, an English guy isn't usually the all-American hero. It depends what's going on in my life. It depends what my possibilities are, what I feel like doing. There's no blanket no to any of those things, but that's not what appeals to me at the moment. If it happened today I wouldn't do it.
Q: Were you mentioned as one of the options for the next James Bond?
C: Probably once a week over the last ten years.
Q: What do you think about it?
C: I've learnt that if you give an answer to that question you get quoted and it gets woven into one of those articles. "He's expressed an interest." "He says he has no interest." And then people run with that. I once said I'd have to see if they offered it. It got inflated from "expressed an interest" to "desperate for the part." I think it's much better to dodge that question. It's bizarre, something like Bond, because you'd probably do it at a price in terms of your other options in some ways. But it's such an enormous thing that I don't think anyone can really answer that question unless they have the offer on the table.
Q: Do you remember the first concrete sign that things had changed for you
in terms of success?
C: No. I still don't see anything concrete. It happens so slowly and so incrementally. Because I was getting work already and good work that I was pleased with, it didn't suddenly mean go from having no offers to getting offers. I didn't get better offers. I didn't get better work. No no, absolutely not. I had worked with Milos Forman in the movie Valmont, which felt like a very big film, and then I did a small part in The English Patient. It wasn't like The English Patient was a success and Valmont wasn't. I don't think one is necessarily a better film than the other, but as far as I'm concerned I'd done one, I did Pride and Prejudice, and then I did something else. I actually started playing smaller parts after Pride and Prejudice.
Q: Can you tell us a little about Nanny McPhee?
C: Yes, Nanny McPhee is the film I did before the one I'm doing now. It was written by Emma Thompson, she's also in it, and it's for children. It's directed by Kirk Jones who did Waking Ned Divine. It's delightfully imaginative, as you can imagine from Emma Thompson. It's witty and very eccentric. I play a man who's living with some incredibly unruly children in a kind of 18th-19th century gothic story book world. The house looks a bit like the Psycho house. The children are incredibly naughty. They chase away every nanny who's ever tried to help raise them. I work as a make-up artist in a funeral parlour. I put blusher on corpses and that sort of thing. And I come home one day to find that the nanny has fled the house and that the children have eaten the baby. I have to go and get another nanny and nobody wants to work, then I hear this strange mysterious voice from behind the agency doors saying, "The person you need is Nanny McPhee." And one dark and stormy night this hideously ugly woman arrives at the door and glides into the house and says "I'm going to take over from here." And that's the set-up, basically, the magic nanny is played by Emma.
Q: Is there something of Mary Poppins in it?
C: Yes, there's is something of Mary Poppins of course. But Mary Poppins was not hideously ugly. It wasn't the same deal with the single father and the children weren't naughty. They're based on Nurse Matilda stories from the 50’s which are out of print. But yes, in so far as it's a magic nanny. It's very Mary Poppins but you'll be pleased to know I don't sing.
Q: Would you ever consider moving to Hollywood and what is your relationship
C: I like it here. I have very good friends here. It's appealing in that it's a place where a lot is happening and a good friend of mine, he's a writer here, he says he loves it because he likes to be able to drive past studios knowing all those things are going on, it's productive, active, and everybody wants to make a deal. And I think that would be appealing. But culturally I'm very very attached to London. I love to travel, I love to work in different places, but it would be very difficult for me to uproot from there. It's benefited me and the work still comes to me if I'm there, so I haven't felt the need to migrate for those reasons. I've never been tempted to put roots down here. I'm not convinced it would serve me better.
RENÉE ZELLWEGER – LA, OCTOBER 2004
Q: There are probably a lot of scenes that didn't make it to the movie that will be on the DVD. Which one of them is your favourite?
A: Oh, there are so many. There was one day in particular that I so wish could have made the film but I understand that it would have made the film much too long. Bridget does an interview about the controversy of fox hunting in England, so she goes to the fox hunt to discover whether this is actually a necessity in English culture or if it's abusive and should be abolished. And oh, can you imagine Bridget on a job, on a horse? Boy, it was heaven for me because I was surrounded by these dogs all day long. It was just glorious; horses, dogs, the English countryside. That's my perfect day.
Q: What would you like people to know about the making of the movie when they watch the DVD?
A: I'm sure that they'll probably recognize that it's one of the greatest jobs in the world. To go to work every day with people who are that creative, that brilliant and who are your friends. It's a nice day at the office (laughs).
Q: What do you personally like most about the DVD format?
A: It’s easy to find what you want to see. And I love the deleted scenes. Love them. And I like the quality of the picture a lot. I don't know if I always necessarily need to tune in to the commentary because I kind of like it to remain a mystery. I like it to be what I imagine sometimes. Q: You look absolutely fantastic. How did you lose the weight, what's your
A: I don't like to answer that question because that wasn't job, the job was to put on the weight to play the character so that I would look like the person, Bridget Jones. I don't like to talk about it in any way that might contribute to the invalid notion that being one way is better than the other. I don't like it. When I'm asked the question it comes with the implication that one way is better. I don't want to answer, "Oh, it was this or that and here's the big secret, so you too won't be size whatever". In fact being Bridget Jones was a very positive experience for me. I feel good when I can fill out a dress like when I went to the Golden Globes, and the responses that I got, especially from the fellows in my life, were very positive as Bridget Jones. More positive than now! The positive responses that I got then were more frequent than I get now.
Q: Bridget is torn between two very different kind of guys. What kind of man attracts you in real life?
A: I hope I learned the bad boy lesson long ago by watching the girls in junior high school. In any sort of a relationship in my life I look for a heart. I'm interested in someone who has compassion, who is emphatic. I like a mind that is cognizant of what the path behind him or her looks like. And a sense of humour is appealing.
Q: What do you like about Hugh and Colin?
A: It's wonderful to go to work and to see Hugh and Colin and to know that I get to collaborate with them. I like them both very much. They are both very open and warm and generous people in different ways. I love how smart they are, their humour comes from how acutely observant they both are, and they express it in different ways. I'm a lucky girl.
Q: How much Bridget is there in Renée?
A: (laughs) More than I want to admit, especially in a professional environment. That's where my awkward Bridget moments occur most of the time; on a red carpet with the camera on, and with high-heeled shoes usually. If you are talking about her essence, I admire her optimism and her humour about her shortcomings. And I do the best I can in my life to find humour in situations. It's kind of imperative in this job, to keep your sanity.
Q: How much improvising did you do?
A: I've been very lucky in all the jobs that I've done. It's always a collaborative effort and the script is, I think, better used as a guide than it is a rulebook. It is always nice to watch where the scene goes, how it evolves and then you are open to those moments that make something memorable or magical. If something feels more comfortable coming out of your mouth in a different way, maybe you should move the lines around, especially when you are collaborating with such brilliant, creative people like Hugh and Colin and Beeban. There's always room for something extra, something really special that wasn't planned. In terms of this character specifically, it's so exciting to discover it as you go along, because these different scenarios allow for this other kind of expression altogether, this extension of characterization in a really broad physical sense. So, it's never really laid out but it's really fun to discover what Bridget versus the ski slope can become. I couldn't wait for that, what could come out of falling into the pigpen with the parachute; you sort of play off of what you feel in that situation.
Q: Do you feel that this is a character that will mark your career?
A: I think she's probably the character that is most recognizable internationally, and that she is the character I’ve played that people relate to most. In that respect I think most people might associate me, Renée, with Bridget Jones because she has that humanity that people relate to.
Q: Can you talk about your qualms about revisiting Bridget?
A: I was terrified because I have a lot of affection for this character and I know that people really relate to Bridget Jones. They don't just go, "Oh, that was a movie we liked" and I say this with myself excluded completely. I'm talking about Bridget Jones, the character that Helen Fielding created, people say, "Oh, I feel like that, I understand that" and they have an affection for her. And I'm really aware of that and I didn't want to do anything that might disappoint people who like Bridget Jones. I didn't want to do something that was just frivolous, something we hadn't thought through, just because we could, because people would be interested in seeing something with Bridget Jones. I wanted to be certain that we weren't doing something that would compromise how people feel about her. On the street people come up to me and
say:" I am Bridget Jones, I love her!" and that was a large part of what made me think that "Oh well, maybe we should go ahead and do the second book" because maybe people think that she has more stories to tell. Maybe there is something valuable there. When people come up and they say: "Oh, my gosh, I heard you are making the second film, my mom loves it and I watch it with my friends all the time, it's the only video I own!", I hear,
"You better not screw this up for us because we really like her and we think she is a neat character, so you better be really careful!" I wanted to be sure that at the end of it all it was worthwhile, not just for the people involved with it, but for people who care about her.
Q: Was it difficult to be skipping back and forth between the British and Texan accents?
A: All the time. It's funny but I find that there's always a little bit of the characters that I play that stays. When we doing the voice over work in post production, it was happening simultaneously with Cinderella Man and my character in that movie comes from a very specific part of New Jersey. So I was very busy trying to be Mae Braddock, and sometimes we'd go in on the weekend because they'd want to see how a particular line worked in a particular spot, and I would go and be Bridget! It was very confusing sometimes but I had a lot of help. Barbara Berkery was always standing by with her whip should I fail to bring, as she describes it,
"that Bridget slushy thing" back.
Q: Why do you think some women find it difficult to believe that Mark Darcy really loves Bridget despite her insecurities?
A: I don't know. I suppose it's the tendency that we all have, to project our fears of failure on to the things that we are meant to be embracing in our lives. Maybe it's that she's hard on herself, that when she looks at herself she sees that she doesn't match up to this media projected paradigm of beauty, so how could he, when for instance, in this film, this Rebecca character seems to match him perfectly. It's the difference between that projected ideal and what people actually find attractive in reality. I have these friends back in Texas and one of them was a supermodel who worked all over the world, and her best friend was a little bit short and heavy and not a magazine cover beauty at all. But when the two of them walked into a room, you immediately turned to my friend who was this little girl; there was something about her, she never talked herself down, ever, she just glowed and she was living her life. She wasn't self-aware in posturing and she wasn't worrying about what people were thinking of her, she was just living her life, and she was so attractive that everyone gravitated toward her first. It's just a really good thing to remember.
Q: What do you think about gay marriages?
A: It's hard to find love in this world and people should love each other. The whole thing about trying to make it illegal for people to love each other is outrageous to me. I have a lot of gay friends who are married and have been for years and are raising children, and they have beautiful families that are far more stable than a lot of the heterosexual couples that I know. It thrills me - if you can find someone in this life to love and who loves you back, god bless you!
Q: People obviously connect with you on certain levels and respond to you. What do you think it is?
A: I really don't know. It's bizarre to me. I guess I'm not that self-aware. The movie star element of my job is really hard for me because I can't justify that people want to know what I buy or what I
eat…"'Here's Renée getting coffee". I just can't fathom why that's news. I'm lucky and I think it's an anomaly that someone like myself has ended up having the experiences that I have. It's unusual because I don't consider myself to be a great beauty, or exceptional in any way that might justify the experiences that I feel fortunate enough to have had. On the surface it seems so unlikely.
Q: Would you agree that Bridget's quest for a boyfriend and marriage is a little bit pathetic?
A: I think that is a superficial look at this character. I think, because when you are reading the books or watching the films, you are privy to her inner dialogue about her anxieties, what's she afraid of and where she thinks she falls short, we feel a connection to her immediately. But that's not where it stops, because in reality, if you watch her actions she is always stretching forward, she is always optimistic about being able to manifest the situations in her life that she knows will make her happy. She gets a job; she stands up to her boss; she changes her life for the better and she never fails to go after what it is that she hopes to have. She is just looking comically at things that scare her.
Q: Is the quest for a husband on the top of your list?
A: I don't look at it that way. I don't dissect life in that way. I don't say: "OK, this is the thing that I need to do now and by the time I'm this age I need to have established this" I'm just embracing whatever good things life brings.
Q: Why did you lose the weight again?
A: Because, honey, I'm a little person and I don't have a choice. I don't get to keep the C cup. If I did, believe me, I would. It was a sad day when I had to retire the bra to the underwear drawer.
Q: So do you feel the pressure in Hollywood to be skinny?
A: No, I don't. I feel like I'm really lucky and that anything I've done in this business has had nothing to do with that. Also, initially when I started out, when I moved here 11 years ago, I made a conscious decision not to pursue things that would take me down that road. I don't want to be 45 and not allowed to be 45 because you know what? There's no alternative to me that is attractive. It's either be 45, be 55, be 65 or die. Look at the options. Those are your choices. That, or a really sad, pathetic battle that I don't want to engage in. I haven't crossed that road yet so I can't speak from having had those experiences, I'm not faced with those particular challenges but I hope that in my development as a human being, I find something to do that allows me to be who I am. I understand that when you live a high profile, seemingly public persona, and you are fair game, that everything you do will not be right because the margins will never come together. There's going to be the 50% who think you look ridiculous and the 50% who think you look great and so you never win. I understand that when your every move is scrutinized, when you're ridiculed en masse, internationally and consistently, in print, that you're going to control what you can. "OK, you're not going to make fun of my hair, then. And you're not making fun of my makeup. And god forbid, I'm not going to be fat, I'm going to control this" when you can't control anything else in your life. I understand it, I'm lucky not to have to depend on it, but I see it in the media and it saddens me so much.
Q: You must see it in your colleagues?
A: Well, of course and it saddens me because it's unprecedented. There have always been the gossipy mags and the speculation about that, but there's never been this onslaught of negativity. In society, I don't know where this appetite for negativity is coming from but it's insatiable and we want to read about how that guy we think is so great, is really just a stupid jerk. Reading about that is going to make us feel better about ourselves. But not really because five minutes later you come to the realization that 'if that guy who has achieved all of that, and has all that, is really just a stupid jerk, then what am I?' On to the next negative thing, please, to make me feel better. But what impact does it have? Look where it lands - in the minds of really impressionable young kids! It's such a problem and I think we should really take a hard look at it and assume some responsibility for it. So when I voluntarily play a part in that and make a contribution to it with an answer to the 'how did you lose that weight?' question, it upsets me because I don't see who it serves, that we have adopted the idea that there is a right way to be. Guys don't find it more attractive. I know that from my personal experience, from talking to my guy friends and going around the world to see the women that attract them; they want the heart, the spirit of the woman more, and gosh if she is round and fills out the dress, all the better. Biology dictates that, doesn't it?