Special interview Renée Zellweger
What were you up to for the past six years? What made you come back?
It was time. I was ready. I missed it. It’s a creative medium that means something to me, that is inexplicable. And I definitely felt a longing for it. And when I heard about the new Bridget Jones movie I got excited about the prospect.
Did you enjoy your break from Hollywood and acting?
Yeah. I did. I learned a lot. I did not retire and go somewhere on the beach or anything like that. I was just exploring another skill set I wanted to develop and interests that I wanted to see if I had an aptitude for. I developed two shows, created a TV show and filmed it. And other things, school. I lived life. I kept some promises that I made to myself a long time ago.
Did you feel like you had to reapproach the character because the context in view of feminism and popular culture has changed a lot since the last film? Was it a familiar place or did you have to rediscover it?
Both. It was really familiar for a lot of reasons and the process of preparation was the same except there was a lot to explore in terms of decided how to animate her evolution to this period of time. How she has changed, how she has grown, most importantly how she hasn’t.
And now culture seems to have caught up with feminism...
Yes. It feels like something is happening. It is a great time. I grew up taking it for granted that women chose their own paths and could deviate from the social paradigms and expectations that are projected onto women in society. I grew up taking it for granted that women held high profile positions of power and influence. It seems that now the young generations coming up are entering the workforce and they are not aware of the struggles of the women ahead of them except from the historical context. They are probably out to feel entitled to what it is they have to contribute and don’t question it. We are ready to just act on what it is that they feel that they have to say, not waiting for permission to speak and not thinking it’s exceptional if they, say, write a script and turn it in or run for office or whatever it may be.
Bridget, who is in her 40s, has two men run after her and is still desirable, which sends a positive message to the women in that age. Did you think about that?
It’s hard for me to say. If I thought about it in that way. I guess didn’t. Not at the time. I was just picking up and catching up with this character that I love. It never occurred to me to see where she fits in with that conversation. It never occurred to me that she would not be vibrant and would not look her best. Or that she might not be desirable.
But it is a positive message...
Yes, definitely. And it is a franchise about a woman’s life.
Yes. I am happy about that. And we have a female writer, female director, female producer and a female-centric film. And it makes me smile that people have been responding to it so positively because I think there is a message in that. That these stories are valuable. That women do want to see stories about themselves on screen. Stories that they relate to, human stories. Hopefully that is something that the powers that be and the tastemakers will recognize and not necessarily – or maybe be more supportive but not challenge so much with the conversation or the question whether or not it is valuable. Not question whether or not it is valuable, just recognize: Yeah it is.
In what ways can you relate to Bridget?
Oh Gosh. Mostly at her failures. Mostly with her awkwardness and that she gets back up. She is inspiring, but no matter how much she tries to meet her own personal ideals or standards, she always comes full circle to be okay with whatever it is that she is as an authentic person. I find that inspiring.
Did you have any hesitation?
Yes, absolutely. I wanted it to matter and if you make a third film based on a character that is beloved to so many people, you want to be careful with it, and I feel a responsibility to Helen Fielding that we make something that does not matter with her characters and her world. I wanted to know in the process that the story that we told was based on something substantive. And that it was true to the tradition of this character and what she represents.
Do you look forward to the red carpet? The superficial aspect of it?
Well, if you put it that way. But there are things about it that are really fun. If you look at it from a human perspective and not a business perspective, that night is about celebrating something that you shared with your friends. So you are all meeting at this spectacular place that you would never be able to go by yourself, if you rang up and asked for wherever the event is. They usually have beautiful spots. Where else are you going to wear a dress like that and jewelry like this? It’s festive and celebratory. I do look forward to that. And there is another element that I try to steer clear of, which is the commodification of the actor in terms of scrutiny and what kind of story you can write that is salacious, that will sell magazines or get people to tune in to whatever it is. That revolves around diminishing the person in some respect. That part is not fun. But I only get smatterings of it, because I don’t focus in on it, I don’t look for it and I do my very best to pretend it’s not there.