News from March through June 2000
Then... porky Colin
(The Sun, June 28, 2000)
Pride and Prejudice actor Colin Firth shed two stone for his new film role—so he could look better than rival Hugh Grant.
Colin plays Mark Darcy in the film version of best-selling book Bridget Jones's Diary.
In the movie he fights Hugh for the affections of Bridget, played by Jerry Maguire star Renée Zellwegger.
A film source told me: "Colin obviously figured he needed to lose some weight to look more the part of the romantic lead.
"He looks fantastic and I'm sure he'll have all the ladies rooting for him in the film."
Bridget author Helen Fielding has clearly been impressed by Colin's new look—I hear the two have a lunch date next week.
Nothing too fattening now, Colin!
|That's Snow Business as Snowshill Turns
v. White for Bridget Jones Movie
(The Express, June 26, 2000, by Rob Perkins)
There's snow business like show business and just to prove it, film-makers have turned a Cotswold village into a winter wonderland. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that Christmas has come early to Snowshill (yes, really) in Gloucestershire. For it has been transformed into a snow-white hideaway for the filming of the movie based on Helen Fielding's best-seller, Bridget Jones's Diary.
So while residents of the village on the outskirts of Cheltenham bask in mid-summer temperatures and look forward to the beginning of Wimbledon fortnight, stars including Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Renée Zellweger, who plays the title role, will be wrapped up against the "cold".
Yesterday must have seemed extremely odd for churchgoers as they made their way to to the parish church of St Barnabas in the village centre. As they strolled, dressed in shirt sleeves and summer dresses, they could be forgiven for being a little confused to see the churchyard covered in artificial snow ready for filming which begins tomorrow. [,,,]
Most of it is filmed in London, but location managers chose the picturesque Cotswold village as the setting for Bridget's parents' home—where she escapes the stresses and pace of London life for a Christmas break. [...]
The actors will spend tomorrow filming in the beautiful valley before Snow Business gather up every flake from the set and return the village to mid-summer. [...]
More from the Evening Standard
|Firth Goes Forth
(The Guardian, June 24, 2000, by Steve Rose)
Q: You, Colin Firth,
actually feature as Bridget Jones' fantasy in the book. Does that make
Q: You did actually
meet Helen Fielding, though, didn't you?
Q: Does that mean
you had to go into Colin mode?
|Firth Accentuates The Positive
(Popcorn, June 23, 2000)
Colin Firth has been defending the honour of his 'Bridget Jones' Diary' co-star Renée Zellweger. Again.
Richard Curtis's adaptation of Helen Fielding's novel is currently shooting in London, and Firth calls Zellweger "a gem to work with. She's generous, friendly, professional and sounds like she comes from North London."
The 'Me, Myself And Irene' star's accent has, of course, been the subject of much discussion, and Firth admits that Zellweger's pitch-perfect English accent is causing him some consternation. "I've never heard a peep of the [natural] Texan accent out of her yet," Firth says, "so I've got to know her as this person who comes from down the road.
"And it's actually a little bit confusing sometimes," he adds, "'cos there's a great incongruity when she tells you something about her childhood in Texas. She says something like 'Dad lassoing mustangs and taking me to the rodeo.' And you think, 'What, in Croydon?'"
shock of the Hugh
(The Daily Telegraph, June 23, 2000)
The boys and girls at Broadview, a financial services company on King Street, near St James's Square, were in their best suits yesterday, hoping for a glimpse of Renée Zellweger or Hugh Grant. They were filming Bridget Jones's Diary, avoiding the admiring glances of the M&A advisers, whose offices had been turned into a film set for the day.
"We've bought a little piece of Hollywood to London," says Victor Basta, head of European operations, proudly. I'm sure he'll be first in the queue when the film opens, eagerly trying to spot his paperclips on screen.
|Salman's 'Bridget' Cameo
(Empire, June 22, 2000)
Salman Rushdie has nabbed himself a role in the film of Bridget Jones's Diary. However the Satanic Verses author, who Empire Online pictured on the set of Bridget..., will be spared having to stretch his acting skills. 'He plays himself,' the film's publicist told us, 'in a scene set at a literary party.'
Fans of the book won't be surprised to see Rushdie linked with the film, given that the paperback version of Bridget Jones's diary featured a positive quote from Salman on the cover reading, 'Even Men will Laugh.'
In the meantime, filming continues apace in central London—click on the links below for today's pictures of Renée Zellweger on the set. To Empire news article and pictures here
TWO of Britain's foremost writers and self-publicists—Salman Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer—have pulled off a coup: they are to appear, playing themselves, as extras in the forthcoming film of Bridget Jones's Diary.
Surprise cast member? Empire's
exclusive photos from the set
Although the crew were keeping tight-lipped about which scenes were being filmed, Empire Online did spot someone in the crowd who hasn't been on any official cast list—Salman Rushdie. Whether he happened to be there on business or as a cast member is anyone's guess. Working Title weren't available to comment at the time of writing this story... To Empire news article and pictures here
(The Hollywood Reporter, June 9-11, 2000)
Embeth Davidtz ("Mansfield Park")...also landed a role in Miramax's "Bridget Jones's Diary" for director Sharon Maguire. "Bridget," starring Hugh Grant and Renée Zellweger, is based on Helen Fielding's best-selling novel about a thirtysomething single woman living in London. Davidtz plays Grant's girlfriend.
More information on supporting cast here
|There's no escaping
(The Independent, June 9, 2000, by Carol McDaid)
Colin Firth hates the whole 'Darcy business' but looks set to revive it by appearing as Mark Darcy, opposite Renée Zellweger, in Bridget Jones's Diary. What's he playing at?
Ten minutes are up. I will have to mention Mr Darcy. Not least because the next morning, Firth is to start filming Bridget Jones's Diary, in which he will play the "v. eligible bachelor" Mark Darcy, the Helen Fielding character inspired by the Jane Austen character as played by Colin Firth. "I'd read the columns in The Independent," he says. "There are certain things that I didn't identify with – weight and boyfriends – but I did think it was very funny and I think the script's very funny as well. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't. And it's got a very good cast [notably Hugh Grant]. I wouldn't have done it just to be symmetrical about the Darcy thing."
Unsurprisingly, he is not ecstatic about discussing the Darcy thing or, more sinister still, "the Darcy business". But somehow he cannot stop himself: "I do feel that I am talking about something which I know nothing about," he explains, sinking further into his small, battered armchair. "It honestly doesn't mean anything to me." And later: "I don't have anything to do with anything I did six years ago. I don't know if you remember how you spent your summer of '94, but that's how I spent my summer of '94, and that's about it."
He protests too much: the Darcy business is karmic; there is no escape. For her Bridget Jones sequel, The Edge of Reason, Helen Fielding "interviewed" Firth over lunch (he could always have said no). She pretended to be Bridget filing for The Independent; he pretended to be "a rather serious actor", a cross between himself and Mr Darcy, someone impatient to finish an interview. The resulting transcript is one of the best bits in the book. And now, to prepare for his current Darcy incarnation, Firth has tapped into the Austen original.
"I actually went to look at a bit of Pride and Prejudice for the first time in five years," he owns up; "partly because of the Bridget Jones thing. I'm not playing Mr Darcy but I am aware there's a reference involved and I was just curious again to see if I could understand what the fuss was about." And can he? "Not really. It's an intoxicating story. The language is wonderful. I think it's [big intake of breath] very romantic, beautifully structured, and the actors do a good job." Chiefly Jennifer Ehle, whom Firth fell for off screen, too. Though people don't think Jennifer Ehle: Elizabeth Bennet. "No. She won a Bafta for it. [He didn't.] Darcy is the romantic destiny. She's the one you're meant to identify with."
Given that he's the role
model, does he feel any responsibility towards Darcy II? "Yes, in a way."
He pauses. "No, I think I've had to create him as something specific in
my mind, as unique as possible. He's based on lots of people I know."
The Name's Colin, Not Darcy
Irresistible, heterosexual machismo is what the nation associates with Mr Firth; hence its delight when he was finally confirmed as Mark Darcy in the new Bridget Jones film. Mark Darcy is the character inspired by Pride and Prejudice...
It remains to be seen how much Mr Darcy will be sent up in the character of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary. Very much an actor, if an unusually clever and articulate one, Firth insists that, 'I have to forget his origins and play him as a character in his own right.' The day after our meeting is the first day of filming: 'It's a scene where I meet Bridget by the dustbins.' Lucky old Bridget. Full Story
|Brits on board for Bridget Jones movie
(Ananova, June 1, 2000 and HEAT magazine, May 31, 2000)
Senior sources at the actors union Equity expressed dismay that Renée had been cast in the role of the weight obsessed, lovelorn heroine to appease Americans backers. She spent three weeks researching the role at a publishing house but expressed her quiet amazement at being offered the job. She said: "It's a dream opportunity and I'm genuinely sorry if I have put any noses out of joint."
Now, apart from dashing co-star Hugh Grant being cast as Daniel Cleaver, her mumbling object of desire, the cream of stage and screen are also in the line-up.
Darcy is literally back as Darcy, in this case Mark Darcy. Colin Firth, late of Pride and Prejudice, will play the not so sparky lad Bridget's mum sets her up with.
Sally Phillips from the Channel 4 comedy series Smack the Pony plays her best friend Shazzer and Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are in pole position as her parents. Also on board the project are Scottish starlet Shirley Henderson as her high-flying pal Jude, Celia Imrie as her posh neighbour and James Callis, recently seen in Sex, Chips and Rock 'n' Roll as her gay, bitchy male chum.
A source on the movie said: "We suffered a lot of flak, especially from casting agents and producers, over our choice of lead lady but there were certain financial considerations and Renée is just excellent."
More information on supporting cast here
|The office secret of Bridget
(The Times, May 13, 2000, by Alex O'Connell)
The secret of an office's unusually classy "work experience girl" was revealed yesterday. She was a Hollywood actress working undercover to prepare for the part of the English heroine Bridget Jones.
Renée Zellweger, 31, spent 2½ weeks before Easter as a "dogsbody" in the London offices of a publisher before filming for Bridget Jones' Diary. Some of the older men in the office took quite a shine to the new girl, offering her advice on how to get into the books industry.
Unknown to them, the temporary employee - known in the office as Bridget Cavendish - was already quite successful in her own right. The actress's personal driver would take her to work for 9.30am and collect her at 5.30pm every day. For lunch, she was whisked away to expensive restaurants where she would eat hearty meals in order to put on weight to play Helen Fielding's caloriecounting character.
The carefully planned ruse was almost exposed when it fell to her to get a cake for a colleague's leaving party. She arrived back at the office with £100-worth of hand-made tarts from a Soho patisserie.
The actress, a Texan, starred alongside Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, but has been trying to acquire the right English accent. "I'm trying to familiarise myself with the culture," she said yesterday in Cannes. In the book, Bridget Jones is a publicist. "I feel a very strong responsibility to make sure she's as truly British as I can make her."
She tried to copy the inflections of Camilla Elworthy, the head of publicity at Picador, the only person in the office in on the secret. Ms Elworthy said: "Nobody knew. We often have people doing work experience, so that was the story. No one missed her at lunchtime because work experience girls don't usually go out for lunch with people who work here."
Lucy Henson, head of publicity at Pan, who shared the same open-plan office, said: "I kept thinking, she sounds exactly like Camilla, despite being American. It kept throwing me. She was prettier and had nicer clothes than most work experience people but I didn't really think about it." In the book, Bridget wears skirts which graze her bottom and layers of mascara.
But Zellweger, who was a waitress in a topless bar before she made it in films, and is dating the American actor Jim Carrey, opted for casual clothes and no make-up. "She was making an effort to dress down," said Ms Elworthy.
She made cups of coffee, photocopied, answered the telephone and rang literary agents with word of new publications. Ms Elworthy added: "Imagine how it felt to get a Hollywood actress to do your photocopying."
|Interviewed at the premiere
of A Life So Far, Colin Firth had this
to say about the first day of filming Bridget Jones's Diary:
"Day 1: 12 stone (reportedly), no cigarettes, alcohol units 2, no arguments or hitches, filming going well (fingers crossed)."(The Daily Telegraph, May 4, 2000, Peterborough)
Firth Locked in 'Jones Diary'
(Reuters/Variety, April 13, 2000, by Adam Dawtrey)
After weeks of speculation, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth have been confirmed to co-star in "Bridget Jones' Diary," alongside Renee Zellweger.
Firth, who played supporting roles in "The English Patient'' and "Shakespeare in Love," was cast to play the romantic lead opposite Zellweger, with Grant (''Notting Hill'') portraying his rival. Zellweger is perhaps best known as Tom Cruise's love interest in the 1996 hit "Jerry Maguire.''
"Diary,'' produced by Working Title Films and directed by rookie Sharon Maguire, starts shooting later this month, financed by Universal Pictures and Canal Plus.
Singleton Survival Kit
|Bridget Jones's dates make even her
view newspaper article here
(The Telegraph, April 13, 2000, by Nigel Reynolds)
COLIN FIRTH and Hugh Grant, two of Britain's biggest screen pin-ups, are to play the men in the life of Bridget Jones, the neurotic thirty-something career girl, in the film version of Bridget Jones's diary.
Helen Fielding, the book's author, said yesterday that she was consumed with jealousy that her screen alter-ego would have affairs with the actors. The film will be the biggest project shot on the streets of London since Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts made Notting Hill and turned the streets of W11 into a film lot.
Filming Bridget Jones, with a budget up to £12 million, will begin in a few weeks' time in streets in west London and in a studio outside the capital. A spokesman for the British producers, Working Title Films, who also made Notting Hill, would not disclose whether Notting Hill, Bridget Jones territory, would be used again. He said: "We are saying nothing because we don't want to cause too much excitement."
Firth set the female half of Britain on fire as the smouldering Darcy in the last BBC version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In the new film, he will play Mark Darcy, a top-notch lawyer famous for his diamond-patterned golf sweaters and Bridget's most enduring but elusive love. Grant, who played a wistful fop in Four Weddings and a Funeral, will be Daniel Cleaver, Bridget's witty boss and bad boy with whom she has an on-off passion.
It is perhaps a minor miracle that Grant has agreed to star in the film. In one diary entry there is a long chunk about his moment of madness in Hollywood. Bridget records her boss holding forth on the subject: "How does a man with a girlfriend with looks like Elizabeth Hurley have a blow-job from a prostitute on a public highway and get away with it?"
Fielding said of the two male stars yesterday: "I must admit to jealously violent thoughts towards Bridget since the announcement that she will be canoodling with both of them. It reminds me of the year that Bridget got 13 Valentine cards and I received one which I had strong reason to believe was from the paper boy." She said Grant was "hilariously wicked as well as sexy, charming and delicious".
Fielding's Mark Darcy was based on Firth's television appearance. She said: "Mark Darcy is the nearest I came in the book to writing a character with a real-life human being in mind, i.e. Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. So I'm completely thrilled he's agreed to do the part." She said he had all the "suppressed emotion and raw pulsating passion" the character needed.
Bridget herself, jinxed in love and obsessed by her cigarette, alcohol and calorie consumption, is to be played by 29-year-old Texan comic actress Renee Zellwegger. Fielding, who worked on early drafts of the script, was reported to have left the project because she objected to the casting of Zellwegger. Now she says she is dying to make an anonymous appearance in the film.
"I'm keen on the idea of turning up on set in enormous sunglasses and a gold lamé turban shrieking 'It should have been me!' and having to be led away and given a trinket." Read article at The Telegraph here
|Colin Firth May Get Lead Entry in 'Diary'
(Reuters/Variety, April 11, 2000, by Adam Dawtrey)
Colin Firth is being lined up to play the romantic lead opposite Renee Zellweger in Working Title's film adaptation of "Bridget Jones' Diary," with Hugh Grant as his rival.
The casting of Firth, who played supporting roles in "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love," is peculiarly apt. His character, Mark Darcy, is based on Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," whom Firth played in a BBC television adaptation. Firth's smoldering incarnation of Austen's hero obsessed the Bridget Jones character in Helen Fielding's original novel.
The film, directed by Sharon Maguire, starts shooting May 1.
|Hugh joins Bridget's singletons
(The Observer, March 26, 2000, by Vanessa Thorpe)
Bridget Jones' Diary, based on the bestselling novel by Helen Fielding, is due to begin filming in London this summer and this weekend casting directors are finalising deals with its two leading male stars.
The film is being made by the team behind two of Britain's biggest cinematic hits, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
It was confirmed last month that the Texan actress Renée Zellweger, star of Jerry Maguire, would play the role of Bridget, but until now question marks have hung over the romantic interest: who will play Daniel Cleaver, the cad, and Mark Darcy, the brooding and proud hero of the diaries?
This week the film's producers are expected to announce that Grant will take the part of the sexually persuasive, yet emotionally unsatisfactory, Daniel.
The part of Darcy has gone to the man who was in Fielding's mind when she first created her hero. Colin Firth, who played Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is to play the role in a pay-off to Fielding's in-joke.
The film will be shot around Notting Hill and is not to be Americanised in any way, according to producers Working Title. The loss of Jones's trademark phraseology, for instance, 'fuckwittage' and 'v.g', would have dulled her distinctive voice.
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