Like many others, Hugh Grant was surprised when Renée Zellweger landed the role of Bridget Jones in the beloved film franchise.
In the new BBC Two documentary Being Bridget Jones, Grant, who played womanizing book publisher Daniel Cleaver in the rom-com films, reflected on Zellweger's casting as the British lovesick thirtysomething, which was not well received at first.
"There was a whole scandal about why isn’t this a British actress?" Grant, 60, said of his former onscreen love, according to The Independent and Variety. "I didn’t know Renée Zellweger, and a Texan playing a British character, it did seem like a stretch."
Grant said that while Zellweger's first audition for 2001's Bridget Jones's Diary was "good," he also found it "startling" due to its similarity to that of Queen Elizabeth's sister, Princess Margaret.
"She was told to kind of, well she thought she better loosen it up a bit,’ " Grant reportedly said of Zellweger, 51, adding that a week later her accent "was bang on."
Zellweger's performance as Bridget Jones in the first film earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress. She returned for both sequels: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) and Bridget Jones's Baby (2016). Grant did not reprise his role in the final film.
The films were based on Helen Fielding's s 1996 novel of the same name, which is a reinterpretation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.
In a recent interview with SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show, Grant opened up about his friendship with Zellweger, which has continued today.
"I love Renée, she's one of the few actresses I haven't fallen out with," The Undoing actor said. "And we got on very well together and we still exchange long emails."
With fans still yearning for a fourth Bridget Jones film, Zellweger admitted back in January that “it would be fun” to portray the titular heroine once more.
“I know people are coy. I’m not. I promise I’m not. I just don’t know,” she said in Vanity Fair‘s Hollywood issue of the chance of another movie.
“I mean, that’s a Helen [Fielding] question, but I hope she would want to," the Judy star added. "I know she wrote a book, so maybe.”
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