“I love this character, I like that she tells stories about what it’s like to be a woman and these really relatable situations at certain times in life. It’s so right to tell a story about Bridget in this stage of her life.” —Renée Zellweger, on Bridget Jones
Bridget Jones is a woman for the ages. Yes, she smokes and drinks perhaps a little too much than what’s good and healthy for her, but she does it anyways. Her diary is where she keeps her hopes, though, writing her resolutions down, which not only include quitting smoking and cutting back on that alcohol intake, but also her weight loss goals, crushes, and career ambitions. Every woman can find something in Jones to relate to. But where did she come from? And what about the actors who help to tell her story off the pages, on the big screen? Keep reading to find out!
Bridget Jones’s Diary Facts
37. Going Undercover
After Renée Zellweger was cast in the lead role, she decided to go undercover to really get the part down pat. For three weeks, she went by the name Bridget Cavendish at Picador, a British publishing house. The story for the staff was that she was getting in some work experience, which meant she did a lot of filing, sending books to reviewers, answering the phone and yes, doing coffee runs. She was so convincing that the Deputy Publisher wanted to offer Zellweger a job. Clearly, they had no idea who the temporary worker really was!
36. Writing Her Own Press
During her time undercover at Picador, Zellweger came across a tabloid story that didn’t shy away from complaining about an American being cast as Bridget Jones. The actress wrote “rubbish” along the margin and filed the story away.
35. Paying it Back
Zellweger’s boss at Picador, Camilla Elworthy, got a tiny little part in the film too. Lucky lady! After the actress sent Elworthy a thank-you card and gift, she also invited her to the set one day, telling her she would also be on screen. “[Zellweger] made sure that I was put somewhere that I would be seen … As a result, half my head can be seen for half a nano-second in the launch party scene.”
34. Woman of Power
The novel isn’t the only thing that’s gained respect. Bridget Jones herself made a big impact in 2016, appearing on the Woman’s Hour Power List. Seven women, fictional and otherwise, were chosen from the past 70 years for the list, which included Margaret Thatcher, Barbara Castle, Helen Brook, Germaine Greer, Jayaben Desai and Beyoncé. Jones is in quite good company.
33. XOXO, Anonymous
The idea for Bridget Jones actually started in a newspaper column. Helen Fielding wrote the column anonymously for The Independent about what it was like being single in London, with it quickly turning into a series of books. “Much as I needed the money, the idea of writing about myself in that way seemed hopelessly embarrassing and revealing,” she said. “I offered to write an anonymous column instead, using an exaggerated, comic, fictional character.”
32. It’s Just a Little Crush
Fielding was a huge fan of Colin Firth’s, developing a crush on him through his role in Pride and Prejudice. In fact, both Firth and Hugh Grant are mentioned in the novel!
31. Best of the Best
In 2007, Bridget Jones’s Diary was added along with the likes of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad as one of the novels to define the 20th century, in a list compiled by The Guardian.
30. Grant, or no Grant – That Is the Question
Grant may not have even appeared in the series at all if it weren’t for one of the writers. Legendary rom-com writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, etc.) was brought on, and Grant was game. “I kept saying, ‘It’s not working. Just get Richard Curtis to come in and help re-write it,’” he said during an interview.
29. We Write What We Know
Fielding used one of her best friends as inspiration for the character Shazza, Sharon Maguire. Maguire also just happens to be the director of two of the films.
28. Acoustics Are Better in There
How’s this for symmetry: the first time we meet Jude, she’s crying in a bathroom. She does that a lot, apparently. Shirley Henderson, who portrays Jude, was also in the Harry Potter films playing Moaning Myrtle. Myrtle also spends all of her time crying in bathrooms.
27. Six Degrees of Potter
Henderson isn’t the only Harry Potter connection. Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson, and Jim Broadbent, who act in the Jones franchise, also acted in the Potter films, portraying Madame Pomfrey, Professor Trelawney, and Professor Slughorn, respectively.
26. I Think I Saw This One Before…
If you feel like Bridget Jones somewhat resembles Pride and Prejudice, you’d be right. Fielding said she took an idea from the classic novel for her own, saying “Jane Austen’s plots are very good and have been market researched over a number of centuries so I decided simply to steal one of them.” Every idea comes from somewhere, right?
25. Catch Her in Her (Partial) Birthday Suit
There’s a scene in Baby where Jones walks around naked, save for the apron she has on. If this sounds familiar, then you’ve probably also watched Empire Records. Her character has a similar scene in that film as well.
24. The Mark of a Great Actor
Zellweger must have really got into the role–Grant said that he never heard her speaking in just her normal, American accent through filming. The first time he heard it? During the wrap party. It only makes sense that she would keep the accent going – in addition to her “work experience” at Picador, she also lived in the United Kingdom for three months, speaking with the British accent, before filming for the movie even started.
23. A Bridget by Another Face
There were a lot of other big names up for the title role in Bridget Jones. Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Emily Watson, Rachel Weisz, and Toni Colette were among them. Honestly, we could go on, there were so many actresses up for contention! Colette was even offered the role but wound up turning it down since she was on Broadway at the time. For her part, Winslet was thought to be too young.
22. For the Love of Food
For the role, Zellweger had to gain some weight. 17 lbs to be exact. To do so, she didn’t exercise at all while having three meals a day, along with a lot of snacks. Even though that sounds like my regular life, don’t try this at home, kids. She did it all while under the consultation of a dietician and endocrinologist, and over a seven-month span.
21. Just the Way She Is
For the third film, Bridget Jones’s Baby, Zellweger wasn’t required to gain any weight. “We all really loved the notion that Bridget had finally reached her ideal weight–somewhere between a UK size 10 or 12–but still hadn’t solved any of her issues about love and loneliness,” said Sharon Maguire, the director of the film. The concept was slightly controversial, though. Some media outlets online believed that Jones’ character should have stayed true to the story for her weight. Can’t please everyone, right?
20. Just Herbs, Thanks
Bridget is a smoker, which is evident if you’ve watched the films. Zellweger didn’t really smoke tobacco during filming, though. She actually smoked herbal cigarettes instead!
19. Music and News
Zellweger, Firth, and Grant all had different ways of passing time between takes. Zellweger would listen to music (Smashing Pumpkins, to be exact), while Firth read The Guardian, and Grant read The Telegraph. Zellweger bought Grant CDs after they were done filming.
18. One of a Kind
This one’s strange to think about. The Bridget Jones trilogy is the only rom-com series in the 21st century that has not only the same leading actress for each film, but was also released in theatres in its entirety. Huh.
17. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
Actually, if you had asked the village of Snowshill if filming there had had a positive impact on their tourism, the people would have said no. Despite the fact that fake snow was brought in during summer to accommodate filming, people didn’t flock to visit. Evidently, foot and mouth disease was still a concern for many tourists at the time.
16. And Scene!
Depending on what country you live in, your end credits will be different. A young Bridget and Mark Darcy are seen running around in a backyard through a home video in America, while interviews about Jones and Darcy are played in Australia, Latin America, and Europe. But have no fear! Each zone airs the other’s end credits in the deleted scenes section of the DVDs.
15. Au Naturelle
There’s a bit of a fight scene that goes down between Firth’s and Grant’s characters in the first film. You should know that it was completely natural, no choreography was needed! But have no fear–neither actor went flying through the restaurant window. That stunt was left to the pros.
14. The OG Cast
The characters who reappear in Edge of Reason are played by the same actors from the original film, save for one. Charmian May, who played Mrs. Darcy, passed away before filming of the sequel, and was ultimately replaced with Shirley Dixon.
13. Breaking the Mold
When it was announced there would be a third film, Bridget Jones’s Baby, it was also revealed that it wouldn’t follow along with the book series. Instead, they opted to go back to the roots of it all: Fielding’s column from The Independent.
12. A Sign of the Times
Bridget Jones has a diary. I think that much is obvious considering the title. However, in Bridget Jones’ Baby, the old-fashioned pen-to-paper diary got a makeover: an iPad.
11. Who’s That Guy?
There’s a familiar face who appears in Baby: Ed Sheeran. The singer plays himself and has a run-in with Jones and a friend in a bar, though the pair have no idea who the famous ginger is.
10. That’s Not Confusing at All
Jones’ birthday is the 9th of November in the original film, but somehow changes to the 9th of May for the third. Maybe they just forgot? That’s not all–her birth year is up for contention, too. In The Edge of Reason, she was born in 1972, but in Baby, it’s 1973.
9. Gone but not Forgotten
Parts of Edge of Reason were filmed in Thailand, and cast members could often be found at Mama Mia’s, one of the small bars in the area. After the tsunami in 2004, the area was totally destroyed. One of the bar’s regulars, Stuart Hopkins, attempted to reach out to the cast afterward with some success. Zellweger sent a package to him in June 2005 that included t-shirts, hats, and a cast-signed giant film poster. The area was re-built, along with Mama Mia’s, and the poster was hung up on its walls.
8. Years in the Making
There was a lot of drama revolving around the third film, too. It was originally announced in 2009 but didn’t actually get released until 2016! All three main actors were reportedly on board at the beginning, yet Grant opted not to return, allegedly saying he didn’t like the script. Although it was reworked and rewritten, Patrick Dempsey stepped in to fill that extra role that Grant left empty.
7. Keeping It Secret
The actors had no idea how Bridget Jones’s Baby would end. Sounds silly, I know. But they filmed three different endings, only finding out the true ending when it was released. Don’t worry, we won’t spoil it here.
6. Winner For the Cutest Ugly Sweater Goes to…
Firth admits trying to take one souvenir in particular from set: a reindeer sweater. “I had a feeling that if the film did well that might be remembered. But no, that was whisked off. And I think auctioned for a good cause or something.” I would have tried to keep it too, Colin.
5. We Want More!
If you still need more of Bridget Jones and her antics, there’s potentially a fourth film in sight. Or, at least, Zellweger would love to reprise her role. “I really hope (there is another movie). I do. I love her. She’s so much fun,” she told the Daily Record. Helen Fielding released the novel Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy in 2013, and ***SPOILER ALERT*** in the hit novel, Jones finds herself single again after the death of Mark Darcy after years of a happy marriage which produced two children. Sadly, there may have been some real-life inspiration, as Fielding’s former partner and the father of her two children died in 2016 after a long illness.
4. Some Cheese With That Wine?
Chardonnay didn’t benefit at all from the film. Wine experts believed that sales for the drink dropped over 7 million the following year because the film didn’t portray it in the best of lights.
3. A Novel Cameo
Acclaimed writer Salman Rushdie has a cameo in the original film. He’s good friends with Fielding, who decided to call him up and ask “how would you like to make a fool of yourself?” Seems he didn’t mind! Jones gets to ask him where the washroom is. Also, according to Rushdie, he and Grant shared a kiss, but it never made it to the final product. Fact? Fiction? We’ll let you decide.
2. Firth on Firth
The reference to Firth in Edge of Reason was cut from the sequel film, since the actor is already playing Jones’ love interest. However, if you want to see Zellweger as Jones interviewing Firth as himself, you can check it out in the deleted scenes. Personally, I think it would have been great to leave that storyline in the film! A little extra comedic relief anyone?
1. His (Not-So) Secret Admirer
Zellweger was dating actor and comedian Jim Carrey while she was filming Bridget Jones, which also meant she kept a photo of him on her desk while secretly working at Picador. One of her co-workers, who kept giving Zellweger advice during her time there, kept questioning why she had the photo on her desk! Alexandra Heminsley had no idea who Zellweger really was but the actress sent her a card after her time there, thanking her for being a good friend.