Renée Zellweger will return as the titular heroine in ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, but the Texan was a controversial choice when she got the role in 2000. In fact, there were several famous women courted to play Helen Fielding’s hilarious singleton before Zellweger came along, but who were they?
The Australian actress was hot off ‘The Sixth Sense’ and was offered the role of Bridget, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Collette was starring in play ‘The Wild Party’ on Broadway when ‘Bridget’ producers approached her.
“[I] couldn’t do it because I didn’t know how long ‘Wild Party’ was going to play,” she later told The Scoop. Even worse, her refusal and her replacement’s subsequent triumph led to Collette losing out to Zellweger again in Oscar-winner ‘Chicago’.
“[The ‘Chicago’ producers] said, ‘We want you to do this, don’t take anything else,” said Collette. “’We want to put you on tape just as a formality. Catherine Zeta-Jones is really excited to work with you.’ Then ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ came out.”
Collette didn’t look back and will star opposite Vin Diesel in the upcoming ‘xXx’ sequel.
The Brit was already a huge movie star by the time ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ was in development, thanks to her Oscar-nominated turns in ‘Titanic’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’.
But while she was a strong option, it was felt that at 25, she was too young to take on the role. It didn’t affect her – and Winslet is now one of the most famous actresses in the world.
TV actress Phillips was known for playing receptionist Sophie in the first series of ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ when she auditioned to play Bridge in the movie.
While she did a good job, execs felt she wasn’t a big enough star to carry the film and she was given the part of Bridget’s best friend Shazza instead. Ironically, the director Sharon Maguire, a good friend of author Helen Fielding, is the person on whom Shazza was based.
Phillips will reprise the role in the threequel.
Weisz was coming off the back a star-making turn in the first ‘Mummy’ film when she auditioned to play Bridget.
Director Sharon Maguire thought she was very funny but it was the actress’s looks which lost her the job. She was, said Maguire, “too beautiful for the part”.
Helena Bonham Carter
As one of Britain’s most celebrated actresses, it’s no surprise that Helena was considered for the lead role in the movie.
She missed out, but starred instead in the remake of ‘Planet of the Apes’. While filming that movie, she lived in Los Angeles on the same street as Bridget’s original author Helen Fielding, who had just moved to Hollywood. Fifteen years later the pair are still great friends.
Watson was already twice-Oscar-nominated for her performances in ‘Breaking the Waves’ and ‘Hilary and Jackie’ when she auditioned to play Bridget.
She wasn’t thought to be quite right, but her career went from strength to strength, in everything from Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ to ‘War Horse’ and Oscar winner ‘The Theory of Everything’. She also won a BAFTA TV Award for 2011’s ‘Appropriate Adult’.
Lucy Lawless/Tilda Swinton/Juliette Binoche
Rumour is that these three stars were also in line to play Bridget. While all fine actresses in their own right, let’s thank the movie gods this never came to pass.
Frankly, it’s next to impossible to imagine Swinton’s unique cinematic energy channelled into a big-pants-wearing Londoner.
Image credits: PA, Rex_Shutterstock