Hollywood rewind | Bridget Jones Diary: Renee Zellweger Shines in Pride and Prejudice
It’s not everyday that a modern adaptation of a classic story works wonders for critics and the general public. A film that has not only managed to break box office records, but also to conquer the difficult Academy. The diary of Renee Zellweger star Bridget Jones is that rare exception. Released in 2001 and directed by Sharon Maguire, Bridget Jones’s Diary also starred British idols Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in key roles. Based on Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Diary was declared a smash hit upon release. But, two decades later, what about the film that still strikes a chord with romantic comedy viewers?
Yes, the cast is quite nice and the story, although well known, will necessarily encourage you to support the titular heroine. But is there anything else? In fact, many naysayers believe the film is just another regular romantic comedy that just happens to be billed for the best actors. However, on a second viewing, I’m inclined to think that perhaps it was the general attitude of the film’s script of not taking anything too seriously that may have helped forge that lasting bond with its fans. The writers were able to bring to life a woman who strived to be a better version of herself, personally and professionally, and who continuously failed. Despite Bridget’s continued disappointments and obstacles in life, the woman never gave up the opportunity to laugh at herself. Even more than her outward appearance, it was her natural awkwardness, wit, and charm that drew people to her.
For the uninitiated, Bridget is a 32-year-old woman whose personal life is always a bit chaotic. She has a crush on her boss Daniel Cleaver (played by Hugh Grant). They later reunite only for Bridget to realize that Daniel isn’t serious about her at all. Amidst all of this chaos, Bridget forms an unlikely friendship with a seemingly cold and distant Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). The regular pushing and pulling occurs, as it does in a love triangle, with both of her suitors fighting Bridget. A scene Bridget hadn’t dared to imagine in her dreams. Ultimately, she has to make a difficult (not so much) choice to go with one of them, and (SPOILER ALERT), she chooses the man that almost every woman in her place would have chosen (if those were the only two options).
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Pride and Prejudice’s influence on Bridget Jones’s Diary is written roughly in almost every footage starring Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger. In fact, writer and screenwriter Helen Fielding admitted in several interviews that the book was based on Jane Austen’s novel. Colin Firth, in fact, was an inspired cast as the talented actor played the role of William Darcy in the 1995 BBC book adaptation. Additionally, Firth’s character in Bridget Jones is also called Darcy, Mark Darcy.
Hugh Grant was incredibly convincing as a handsome thug with a wandering eye. But initially, when news broke that Renee Zellweger had been cast to play Bridget, there was an uproar in the UK press because fans of the book didn’t want an American to play the British role. However, once the feature was released, everyone was stunned by Zellweger’s performance, so much so that she ended up being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in the Leading Role category. According to IMDb, Zellweger also kept his British accent off-camera. Later, co-star Hugh Grant reportedly said he didn’t know Zellweger had a natural American accent until the end of the final show. It is indeed a commendable act!
Bridget Jones’s Diary is currently streaming on Netflix.