In preparation for Bridget Jones’s Baby, the third film in the Bridget Jones franchise, the L.A. Times has released a (relatively brief) oral history of the first film featuring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, producer Eric Fellner, and Sharon Maguire, director of the first and third films. Notably missing was Hugh Grant—though no one seems all that upset about it.
While, overall, the oral history is remarkably lacking in energy (Zellweger’s answers are bland and perky, Firth’s are bland and stuffy), there are a few interesting tidbits. Like did you know that Bridget Jones author Helen Fielding based the character Shazzer on Sharon Maguire?
Maguire: ...Helen is a friend of mine, and I’m allegedly a character in the book. I’m supposed to be Shazzer. So she told Working Title about me, and I sold Eric a whole thing about how because I was a character in the book, I knew how to do this.
Or that Zellweger prepared for the role with an internship at a British publishing company?
Fellner: Then we got Renée to come to London three months before shooting began to immerse herself in the world of London. You know, going on the Tube, getting a bus, going to local restaurants to develop her accent. She got a job as an intern at a publishing house — Picador. Nobody really knew who this girl was, so she could travel undercover.
Zellweger: I had to file the press clippings for any of the authors and run little errands and make the coffee. There was a launch party that we had to organize, and a couple readings down at the bookstore.
And how about this boring quote from Firth?
Firth: It was very obvious to me that the structure of the story was based on “Pride and Prejudice,” and I do think that’s up there as one of the most romantic stories in the English language. Stories of people who misjudge each other and end up romantically involved — like “Much Ado About Nothing” — have a lot of power. Stories where two people spar but have an erotic undercurrent.
My guess is that Firth is also rather fond of Pride and Prejudice because it’s what made him famous and ultimately very rich, but yes, I agree. It is one of the most romantic stories in the English language.
Toward the end of the oral history, things start to get vaguely spicy—much like a chili made by a gun-shy midwestern aunt. Hugh Grant, who played Daniel Cleaver in the first two films, backed out of the third film in 2014 and despite his integral role in the franchise, no one—least of all Firth—is sweating his absence.
Zellweger: For personal reasons, yeah, I do wish Hugh was there, because he’s my pal and I really would have loved to have shared this experience with him. But it didn’t feel like he was absent. He’s such a big part of her history that he informs who she is in this film, in a big way.
Firth: Running up to it, it seemed incredibly important that Hugh would be there. But once we were up and running with the people we were working with, I committed to that, and nothing seemed to be missing.
Smell you later, Hugh!
Image via Universal/Bridget Jones’ Diary.