Something happens when Renee Zellweger enters a room. She’s not loud, she’s not overpowering, but she has a gentle smile that can light up a room. You can’t help but take notice.
Many of us took notice of Renee years ago. Whether it be in Empire Records, Jerry McGuire, or any of her other movie roles, we took notice. But for me, I really took notice in 2001, when she took on the iconic role of Bridget Jones.
I never knew of the column that Helen Feilding published in The Independent. I never read the books. But in 2001, I sat down and watched the movie about a thirty-something single woman navigating life in London. Did I live in London? No. But Bridget made me want to. I dreamed of nothing more than being able to find my own way in this world – even while feeling awkward and out of place.
Sitting three feet away from Renee, I was taken a back by how simply stunning she is. The petite actress was dressed in white, hair pulled back. Next to her sat the movie’s director, Sharon Maguire.
I admit that I had never heard the name Sharon Maguire until the night before, at the U.S. premiere. She took the stage to introduce the film and had the crowd laughing with a hilarious speech.
I instantly became a fan.
Sitting in front of them, the one thing that everyone wanted to tell these two right away was just how funny the movie was. The third film in the Bridget Jones franchise is non-stop laughs from beginning to end.
“Seriously, my heart last night, again, was thumping so loud in my chest that I was like, ‘Are they laughing? Are they laughing? Are they laughing?’” Sharon said when talking about the premiere the night before.
In the film, Bridget hasn’t quite gotten the happily ever after that she wanted. It’s been 10 years since she broke up with Mark Darcy and all of her friends have moved on to marriage and kids. But Bridget isn’t taking it lying down – instead of focusing on the men in her life, she’s focusing on her job and embracing growing older.
But, in a twist of fate, and in an attempt to hold onto her youth – a night at a music festival changes everything. She meets Jack (Patrick Dempsey), who rocks her world. And guys, I’m not hating… because I would have let him rock my world. And yes, I would have also let Mr. Darcy rock my world a week later.
In the film, Bridget ‘s focus on her job is admirable. Age hasn’t slowed her down- she’s still in her prime. She’s focused and she knows that she’s at the top of her game. One of the best things about any movie is hearing about all the behind the scenes stuff, and when you see the movie, you won’t be able to stop laughing at “Negacha.” God knows if I have spelled that right, but the way that the enunciate it in the film, had me laughing out loud.
“Negache [sp]? We went through 53,000 different ways to say that name, 3,000 at least. We practiced and we practiced and practiced.” Renee said when asked about saying the name of the country.
But that’s just the thing. There is always rehearsal and practice in a film. There’s always change. And there’s change in this movie – as when Bridget changes up her theme song. Turns out that even she can only handle so much “All By Myself.” She’s upgraded to House of Pain.
You won’t be able to walk away from one of the first scenes without begging LL Cool J to invite her onto Lip Sync Battle. Renee has picked her favorite contender: “Did you see Anne Hathaway on that show? Did you see her? Okay.” She wore a big smile when talking about the Devil Wears Prada Actress, “I mean, that–it’s over. Cancel the show. We’re done. We hit the bar. It doesn’t get better than that.”
I beg to differ.
The film was set to move to a smaller studio when Renee got the phone call late at night, about learning all the words to the song. After an 18 hour day, Sharon informed her that they wouldn’t be able to move Bridget’s flat and that she needed to memorize the song from House of Pain by 6am.
“I didn’t know the song. I mean, I knew the song. But, I know the part that everybody else knows.” she said, “You know? I know the part that we all sing together, you know, the three lines where it repeats itself.”
Renee didn’t sleep that night. She learned the words.
Research, memorizing – none of it is new to any actress in the world. Researching her role in the film, however, was especially fun for Renee.
“For this round, yeah. Because the first one, she–we put her to work in a publisher’s, and this one, we all went to a show called “Good Morning Britain.” And it’s kind of a crazy live news show, and we all went there for a few days.” Sharon said.
I can’t imagine what it was like to have Renee shadowing you at work, or any of the cast for that matter. But I’d take it.
“But, it was exciting. I think the research is–you know, to try and find the authenticity of the world and the character, it’s kind of important for us to do that. And that–I get very excited about that, all of that.” Sharon continued.
For me, Bridget has always portrayed a sense of confidence that few can. She taught us that we can overcome anything and she made us realize that people’s perceptions shouldn’t hold us back. Maybe it’s because she is so relatable that we’ve waited for the return of the franchise with open arms.
But what was it like for Renee to return?