The Today Show
with Katie Couric

April 16, 2001

Katie Couric:  The best-selling novel Bridget Jones's Diary came to life on the big screen this weekend. In the movie, Renée Zellweger plays Bridget, who has two men competing for her attention. Hugh Grant is one and actor Colin Firth, who plays Mark Darcy, is the other.     [clip]














KC:  Colin, it's working for me. Colin Firth, good morning. How are you?

Colin:  Good morning. I'm well. Thank you.

KC:  Nice to see you. First of all before we even talk about the movie, I want to congratulate you because you have a new baby son.

CF:  Thank you.

KC:  Two and half weeks old, named Luca.

CF:  That's right. That's right.

KC:  So that's wonderful news. And have you been able to spend much time with him because obviously you've been busy promoting this movie?

CF:  Yeah, I've spent a lot of time with him and it's been a very strange moment because the film has come at exactly the same time. And originally I thought I wasn't going to be able to do anything. I wouldn't go to any premieres. I wouldn't do any press. But, they were very considerate. They sent me a private plane to take me from Italy, where he was born, to the premiere and then back again.

KC:  Oh, that was nice.

CF:  So quite an adventure, but the contrast of two worlds, when you're in that little cocoon with your new child and then suddenly you're stepping out of the limousine unto a red carpet and blinking at the lights...

KC:  I bet. I can guess which one you probably enjoy a little bit more.

CF:  You'd be right.

KC:  Pretty easy to guess that. Well, let's talk about your role though as Mark Darcy. He's been described as grim, dour. I frankly just think he's a bit insecure and uncomfortable in social situations. I prefer to see the good side of Mark Darcy, but how would you describe the character?

 CF:  I think that insecurity is the key to him. He's very similar to Mr Darcy mark one from Pride and Prejudice fame, and that in fact was the way in the first time around as well. I thought, at first, I thought the character's unplayable. He's a sort of strange, aloof icon. But once I realized that this is a man who's just embarrassed in a social situation and can't stand parties, then I realized that he was accessible in some way.

KC:  And his mother makes him wear embarrassing clothes, like a Rudolph the Reindeer jumper which, I guess in Britain, that's what you call a sweater, right?

CF:  Yes, they've given me a few handicaps this time. You know, I'm supposed to be the romantic resolution in this film and I have to start off with a reindeer sweater, go via a snowman tie, which actually if you pressed it played Jingle Bells or something...

KC:  Is that right?

CF:  And then I have to win the girl in the end and I've also got a devilish rival with, I think, far too much screen time.

KC:  Right, Daniel Cleaver played by Hugh Grant. And it's interesting, Helen Fielding actually was  inspired by your performance in Pride and Prejudice as Mr Darcy. We've got a clip of that, in fact, which I think really kind of motivated her to make this character who he was and what he was. Was it sort of fun playing a modern day...

CF:  Well, it's very complicated. The layers. Because if you think about it, I suppose, I'm playing somebody who's based on a character in a book who's based on a role that I played who's based on a character in a book. [Katie laughing] So I'm like one of those Escher drawings, you know.

KC:  Yeah, that's right. Well, when you first got the screenplay I understand that you were worried about having the wit of this book translate to the big screen and at first you weren't so happy with it. Is that right?

CF:  I wasn't sure that it was going to work. I felt that the book didn't, it wasn't easily translated into dialogue. It wasn't gag-dependent.

KC:  Right.

CF:  It wasn't little one-offs that you can just, you know, cull from the book. You need to reinvent a voice for a film and I think they did that very, very successfully. I mean, two of the most talented writers  England has worked on this thing.

KC:  Right.

CF:  And they worked very diligently.  And I think one can always be a little bit suspicious when something seems too tailored to be a hit. You got the best writers. You got the right actor here. It's a best-selling novel. Get all the same team who brought you this and this film. And, of course, it's going to be a hit. I always think there's going to be a catch when that happens.

 KC:  But so far, so good.

CF:  Well, yes. And they didn't depend on formulas, actually, however that it might appear that way. It was the result of some extremely careful planning.

KC:  Well, certainly, the casting of Renee Zellweger as Bridget was not formulaic by any stretch and it created quite a brouhaha in Great Britain, I understand, and now that all is said and done and the movie is complete, how do you think Renee did?

CF:  I think she is spectacularly successful. And I still can't get used to the idea that she's not the person I met in London last year. As far as I'm concerned, Renee Zellweger is a very charming, well-fed English girl. Instead, I'm coming here and finding out that there's somebody who's lean and glamorous and on the front cover of every magazine and she's called Renee Zellweger as well.

KC:  And she's got a Texas twang...

CF:  Exactly...

KC: a matter of fact.

CF:  ...I know, which I find hard to believe.

KC:  And what about Hugh Grant? Obviously, I want to show, we do have some great B-roll of you and Hugh going at it in one scene. And I must say that you fared quite well, (giggle) Colin...

CF:  I think that's fair to say.

KC: this face-off. Ouch! Did you have fun shooting this? I mean it was kind of comical, in that it was such a throwback to was kind of pathetic, Colin, what can I tell you?

CF:  I know. Hugh is trying to claim that we deliberately decided to do this kind of silly, girly fight. But, in fact, we weren't at all. We were trying to do Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. (laughter from crew) 

KC:  Well you failed miserably, should I say. Anyway, well,  the movie is obviously Bridget Jones's Diary and you're happy with it?

CF:  Very much so.

KC:  And do you think it is a chick flick or do you think guys would like this too?

CF:  No, no. I think people will think it's a chick flick, but the guys are going to come out recommending it.

 KC:  Well, it's great to meet you, Colin. Thanks so much for coming by. And we'll be b-b-back with more of Today—I can't speak because I kind of have a crush on him—right after this.

Screen captures by Tineke.

And now back to the studio

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