Crinkly-eyed and adorable as ever, Renée Zellweger arrived at a luncheon in her honor Tuesday at the swanky Lotos Club in a white strapless gown that looked like a wedding dress to celebrate her new film, “Bridget Jones’s Baby.” It’s not a spoiler – since it’s in the trailer – that the movie ends with Bridget walking down the aisle in a wedding gown beaming at two dreamboats, played by newcomer to the franchise, Patrick Dempsey, and Colin Firth back as uptight barrister Marc Darcy.
The very pregnant talk show host Savannah Guthrie moderated a talk back with Zellweger, Firth, director Sharon Maguire, producer Eric Fellner and Bridget book writer Helen Fielding.
It’s been 12 years since the second Bridget film, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” and Zellweger is back to reprise her role as the loveable, klutzy singleton with romantic and professional woes relatable to many women. This new Bridget film is as good as the first, “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which may be because both films share the same director, Sharon Maguire.
Like the first Bridget film, there’s a love trilogy, which involves Bridget’s original love Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who she reunites with at a baby christening. And then there’s Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a relationship guru who falls for Bridget when they meet at a music festival and she accidentally ends up in his tent. After trysts with both men, at age 43 Bridget finds herself pregnant. The dilemma? Who’s the daddy? It turns out both men want Bridget and the baby.
Another reason the film is so good is Emma Thompson, who wrote one of the drafts of the screenplay, and has a hilarious turn as Bridget’s acerbic, no-nonsense doctor who among other things helps sort out the paternity logistics.
Zellweger, who looks great and is adorable as her Bridget character, told me Thompson shared her pregnancy experiences with her. “She’d say, ‘Sorry, you’re too far along. You can’t have any drugs,’ that was her line,” Zellweger laughed, describing the scene where Bridget is in labor and it’s too late for an epidural. “You never know what you’re going to get because she’s always bringing out surprises.”
One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Bridget and Darcy are in a taxi rushing to the hospital after Bridget’s water breaks. They get caught in a traffic jam so they decide to hoof it to the hospital and Darcy gallantly takes her in his arms. I asked Renee about that scene, where Colin carries her through what seems like dozens of streets.
Zellweger laughed, “Someone looked at the different spots in London and said, ‘He carried her about 10 1/2 miles.’ He had to carry me for a few days. And that prosthetic bump was solid latex, you know? No joke, that was heavy,” she told me. “That was one of my favorite scenes. Endearing and lovely and really hard to keep a straight face because when Colin struggles there’s nothing more amusing to me, and his improvisation with the lines he would come up with as he was trying to make it across the bridge for the 50th time.”
I asked Renée what it was like slipping back into the role after 12 years. “I hadn’t been working in a while so I was a little nervous about coming back to it and then a little nervous about revisiting this character who I love, and I recognize that so many people have affection for her, as well. I didn’t want to mess it up. I didn’t want to disappoint anybody who’s involved in the film, and it’s an interesting new exercise to be reunited with a character so much farther down in her life experience and to figure out how you show that. How you show that a person has evolved. And more importantly, probably how they haven’t evolved. It was a fun challenge.”
Without giving away too much, the movie definitely opens the door for more Bridget movies. Would she be up for it? “I don’t know. Honestly, that would definitely be a Helen question,” she said “Maybe. Let’s see the script. Let’s have a look, let’s have a look at the script!” Zellweger laughed. “I have so much affection for these characters. I never want to do anything just for the sake of it, you know? I want to protect the integrity of this world that she’s created