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Colin Firth on pride, prejudice and Bridget Jones's Baby.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Bridget Jones’s Baby star Colin Firth greets Fred Schepisi in the Lotos Club library
Bridget Jones’s Baby star Colin Firth greets Fred Schepisi in the Lotos Club library Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Universal Pictures and Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films celebrated Sharon Maguire's Bridget Jones’s Baby, co-written by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson, starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey with Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Sally Phillips, and Shirley Henderson at a lunch in New York at Lotos Club organized by Peggy Siegal.

Savannah Guthrie, Eric Fellner, Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Sharon Maguire, Helen Fielding
Savannah Guthrie, Eric Fellner, Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Sharon Maguire, Helen Fielding Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

At the cocktail reception earlier, attended by The Wolf Of Wall Street screenwriter Terence Winter, The Eye Of The Storm director Fred Schepisi, Bill Blakemore (Rodney Ascher's Room 237 doc on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) and Celia Weston, I spoke with Colin Firth about clothes making the man, revisiting Mark Darcy and Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, whom he portrayed in Simon Langton's Pride And Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet.

The last time I spoke with Colin Firth was after The Paris Theatre première of Woody Allen's Magic In The Moonlight at the Harlow afterparty. In Bridget Jones’s Baby, where you have to throw reality out with the bath water, Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones (Zellweger) have some very worthwhile insights to purvey. At the funeral for his former rival, played by Hugh Grant, Darcy and Jones meet again.

He is there with his wife Camilla (Agni Scott) and Bridget, although now a successful TV news producer, feels as clumsy as ever in his presence. Firth's Darcy allows viewers with "8% compatibility rate" an entryway into this world - where "Hitler cats" roam, expensive bags left at an ATM at night are never retrieved, and pizzas are delivered on the way to the hospital to give birth.

Colin Firth on revisiting Mark Darcy: "So much time has passed that it almost felt like a new deal this time."
Colin Firth on revisiting Mark Darcy: "So much time has passed that it almost felt like a new deal this time." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Anne-Katrin Titze: I did a couple of features with Livia [Colin's wife, founder and creative director of Eco-Age and producer of Andrew Morgan's True Cost] on the green carpet and about sustainable fashion.

Colin Firth: Ah!

AKT: Speaking of clothing. Does it feel a bit as if you're getting back into old clothes [a reindeer sweater, for example], when you are revisiting a character you played so many years ago?

CF: So much time has passed that it almost felt like a new deal this time. And I had to go and watch the first film just to remind myself what it was that other people expected him to look like or sound like. I mean, it wasn't a particularly complicated exercise as it turned out. I knew that I hadn't seen the first film for 15 years and other people have.

And I felt that other people had ownership of it more than I did. So in some ways I had to study what it was that I should conform to. So to that extent it was pulling out something from the past. But it's always a new project. This is a different writer, the story isn't the same story. The characters are older which puts a different perspective on things. So it wasn't only done in reference to the old film.

AKT: Sometimes you look at a reference in order to turn it around, turn it on its head and give it another spin.

Bridget Jones’s Baby ad on top of a New York City taxi
Bridget Jones’s Baby ad on top of a New York City taxi Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

CF: That's not what I was doing. I know. It wasn't my job to subvert it. Because I think the conceit here is that he has not changed. The world has changed. His age is more advanced and his relationship to everything is different because of that. You may be living in the same circumstance, you have the same job, you have the same ambitions but at a different time in your life, it all looks different. You start to reflect on it differently.

AKT: I noticed how he is so extremely good at making people feel insecure about themselves. It's a real talent Mr. Darcy has that you give him. One look and people think, oh, did I say something wrong?

CF: That has its roots in Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy.

AKT: Of course.

CF: This is why Elizabeth Bennet [in Pride And Prejudice] reacts so violently against him. It's because that imperiousness makes her uncomfortable. And we find out later that it wasn't imperiousness, it was insecurity, probably. At least that is my interpretation.

Universal Pictures and Working Title Films Bridget Jones’s Baby lunch at Lotos Club
Universal Pictures and Working Title Films Bridget Jones’s Baby lunch at Lotos Club Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

That he is so afraid of his emotions which I think are very powerful. I think he is a passionate, highly sexed man, who can't exhibit any of it. And he is attracted to people who can. But he can't do it. He's too constrained, he is debilitated.

AKT: And so his armour turns into a weapon?

CF: Yes, and a prison for himself, too.

Coming up - Renée Zellweger on Bridget Jones's Baby, Sharon Maguire and Helen Fielding on bringing Bridget Jones into the present, and Fred Schepisi on his upcoming film Andorra, based on Peter Cameron's novel.

Bridget Jones’s Baby comes out in the US and the UK on September 16.

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