Renee shares with Vanity Fair how she loves the imperfect parts of Bridget and how that shares that it makes it okay to be imperfect!
The star talks returning for Bridget Jones’s Baby, and why we just can’t let this character go.
I’m happy to be back, and back as Bridget,” says an enthusiastic Renée Zellweger. After taking a six-year hiatus from acting, she makes a welcomed comeback to the big screen as hapless, lovelorn, singleton Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Baby—the third installment of the beloved series. “As an actress, it’s a dream come true role. You run the gamut of human emotions with each incarnation of the story. She’s an authentic character and I have so much fun playing her.”
The Oscar winner sat down with Vanity Fair at an intimate luncheon at New York City’s lavish Lotos Club on Tuesday to discuss her new movie. Also attending the swanky affair were co-star Colin Firth, director Sharon Maguire (who also helmed the original 2001 flick), Bridget Jones creator and author Helen Fielding, and producer Eric Fellner. Early reviews are praising the film’s honesty and humor, and applauding Zellweger’s heartfelt performance as well.
“What I love the most about Bridget is her vulnerability and her openness,” says Zellweger. “I love that she makes it O.K. to be imperfect. That makes me root and cheer for her every time. Like all of us, she has evolved. She is more inclined to listen to her own intuition, and she has matured a little bit.”
In the film, out Sept. 16, Bridget is now in her 40s and wiser. She’s a top TV news producer and has dropped down to her ideal weight—but is still looking for love. Her life is turned upside down when she discovers she’s expecting a baby, but is unsure about the father of the child. He could either be Mark Darcy (Firth), her ex who recently came back into her life, or American dating app mogul (Patrick Dempsey), with whom she had a fling with at a music festival. Reprising the role was an easy decision for Zellweger. It’s a part that she personally identifies with.
“Oh yeah, I completely relate to Bridget. More than I’d like to admit,” says the star, 47. “I think all of us, including myself, relate to Bridget Jones in her imperfections. The heart of Bridget is the truth of who the person is versus who she thinks she’s supposed to be. If we were privy to everybody’s inner dialogue, we would recognize that we all share the same anxieties and we all have the same hopes for ourselves and our lives, and that we all have fears of not measuring up. I think that’s why we find her so relatable.”
Hard as it may be to imagine Zellweger as flawed, she insists upon it: “Seriously, I’m not perfect,” she exclaims. “My imperfections always surface at the most inopportune time. Usually on live TV, in an interview situation, and always on a red carpet. There’s always something happening, but that’s life. You just have to move forward.”
Zellweger would rather stumble and experience embarrassing blunders while attempting comic pratfalls on screen. “I love the physical comedy challenges. I love to explore just how absurd you can make something,” she says. For the scene in the new movie when Bridget meets Dempsey’s character for the first time, Zellweger gladly volunteered to fall into a pool of mud. “It was the best day! It’s my favorite thing in the world to do,” she recalls. “I find it so entertaining. Playing Bridget again gave me the opportunity to do physical comedy again. I mean it’s selfishly motivated.”
For Firth, suiting up as the heartthrob lawyer Mark Darcy for the third go-around was a welcoming idea. Once he knew Zellweger and director Sharon Maguire were onboard, he recognized the movie could be another fan favorite.
“I know that great things happen when this team gets together, and I was optimistic about doing a very entertaining film,” the Oscar-winning actor tells Vanity Fair. “I wasn’t really approaching it with a very serious agenda. Achieving good, laugh out loud, entertainment is very difficult, and I felt there was enough people here who had the talent to achieve that. I thought it was worth a shot. The fact that 15 years has gone by since the original meant that we could take a different and interesting angle on it. In the end, it all came to together, and I’m glad to be back.
As for reuniting with Zellweger and the original cast members for the first time since 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Firth found the experience to be a touching family reunion.
“It was quite emotional. Not just with Renée, but with [director] Sharon,” says Firth. “Seeing all the people back in character was quite a moving experience. I think Renée is better in the role now than she’s ever been and that’s saying something. It was like watching close-up magic. It was a master class.”