Bridget Jones's Diary is a 2001 British romantic comedy film based on Helen Fielding's novel of the same name which is a reinterpretation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The adaptationstars Renée Zellweger as Bridget, Hugh Grant as the caddish Daniel Cleaver and Colin Firth as Bridget's "true love", Mark Darcy. A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was released in 2004.
Actresses who were considered for the role of Bridget Jones were Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Rachel Weisz and Cameron Diaz. Toni Collette declined the role because she was on Broadway starring in The Wild Party at the time. Kate Winslet was also considered, but the producers decided she was too young.
Before the film was released, a considerable amount of controversy surrounded the casting of the American Zellweger as what some saw as a quintessentially British heroine. However, her performance, including her English accent, is widely considered to be of a high standard.
Zellweger was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film.
Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is frustrated: she is in her early thirties, still single, very accident prone and worried about her weight. She works in publicity at a book publishing company in London where her main focus is fantasizing about her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). At a New Year party hosted by her parents, she re-meets Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), the barrister son of her parents' friends. They had known each other as children. After their initial encounter, Mark thinks that Bridget is a fool and Bridget thinks that he is arrogant and rude, and is disgusted by his jumper with a huge reindeer. After a day beset by a series of mishaps, she misplaces her purse, breaks her coffee mug and gets stuck in a lift. When she returns home that evening, her shopping bags split. She reaches to pull the curtains, only for them to fall off the wall. That is the final straw of a stressful day. When she catches sight of her reflection in the window, she decides to turn her life around. She starts her own diary, which covers all her attempts to stop smoking, lose weight and find her Mr. Right.
Bridget and Daniel begin to flirt heavily at work, first over email. After a book launch, they start a relationship, despite the fact that he is a notorious womanizer with a questionable personality, of which Bridget is aware, from when stating earlier in the film that she will not form relationships with alcoholics, workaholics, peeping-toms, megalomaniacs, or perverts. Bridget learns from Daniel that he and Mark have a history and, as a result, hate each other. Daniel informs Bridget of their falling-out, telling her that Mark broke their friendship by sleeping with his fiancée.
Daniel's dubious character becomes clearer and clearer to Bridget and she eventually breaks off their relationship when she catches him with another woman, a colleague of his, Lara (Lisa Barbuscia). After a spectacular departure from the office, in which Daniel's desperate attempts to make Bridget stay spark the comment "I'd rather have a job wiping Saddam Hussein's arse", she finds a new job in television.
She and Mark have run-ins at a bed and breakfast and at a mutual friend's dinner party. During the party, Mark, who has come to the dinner with his colleague, Natasha (Embeth Davidtz), privately confesses to Bridget that, despite her faults, he likes her "just the way she is". He later helps Bridget to achieve an important interview for work, in which her quirky approach prompts the classic comment "Bridget Jones - already a legend". She begins to develop feelings for Mark. Just as Bridget and Mark's mutual attraction comes together at a birthday dinner party hosted by Bridget, Daniel comes back, temporarily claiming Bridget's attention. Mark originally leaves the party, but returns to face Daniel. Mark punches Daniel and the two fight. They end up in a nearby restaurant and finally smash through the window, landing on the street. Mark wins the battle and knocks Daniel out. Bridget chides Mark but afterwards, after an insensitive appeal by Daniel, she says emphatically that she doesn't want to be with him.
Bridget learns the truth about Mark and Daniel's falling-out after her mother lets it out in conversation - that it was actually Daniel who had seduced Mark's wife ("It was the other way round - my wife, my heart"). At a dinner party the same day, Bridget confesses her feelings for Mark, only to find out that he and Natasha are both leaving to accept jobs in New York. Bridget interrupts the toast to their pending engagement with a halting but moving speech about England losing one of its finest men. Her words clearly have an effect on Mark, as he realises what she really means, but he still flies to New York, though with obvious misgivings. Just as Bridget starts to embark on a trip to Paris with her friends to mend her broken heart, Mark returns to stay with her.
When they are about to kiss for the first time, Bridget goes to her bedroom to change her undergarments, remarking that this is "an occasion for genuinely tiny knickers." While Bridget is changing, Mark peeks at her diary, in which she has written many insults about him. Bridget returns to find that he has left. Realizing that he had read her diary and that she might potentially lose him again, Bridget runs outside after him in a thin sweater and zebra skin-print underwear. Unable to find him and disheartened, she is about to return home when Mark appears holding a new diary, "to make a fresh start". They kiss in the snow-covered streets and the film closes.
- Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones
- Colin Firth as Mark Darcy
- Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver
- Jim Broadbent as Mr. Colin Jones
- Gemma Jones as Mrs. Pamela Jones
- Celia Imrie as Una Alconbury
- James Faulkner as Uncle Geoffrey
- Shirley Henderson as Jude
- James Callis as Tom
- Lisa Barbuscia as Lara
- Charmian May as Mrs. Darcy
- Paul Brooke as Mr. "Tits pervert" Fitzherbert
- Sally Phillips as Shazza
- Embeth Davidtz as Natasha Glenville
- Patrick Barlow as Julian
- Felicity Montagu as Perpetua
- donald Douglas (actor) as mr Darcy
Pride and Prejudice writer Andrew Davies collaborated on the screenplays for the 2001 and 2004 Bridget Jones films, in which Crispin Bonham-Carter (Mr. Bingley) and Lucy Robinson (Mrs. Hurst) appeared in minor roles. The self-referential in-joke between the projects convinced Colin Firth to accept the role of Mark Darcy, as it gave him an opportunity to ridicule and liberate himself from his Pride and Prejudice character.