It’s almost impossible to imagine anybody else playing Bridget Jones other than Renée Zellweger.
However, at the time of the Hollywood star’s casting, many questioned whether an American should be playing the role of Helen Fielding’s British character.
One such person was Zellweger’s co-star, Hugh Grant, who played Daniel Cleaver in the franchise, which first arrived in cinemas 20 years ago this week.
The British actor once confessed to thinking her casting in the role was “a stretch”.
In a documentary dedicated to the film, which aired in 2020, Grant recalled: “There was a whole scandal about why isn’t this a British actress? I didn’t know Renée Zellweger, and a Texan playing a British character, it did seem like a stretch.”
He was eventually won over by her performance in the comedy that grossed $281.9m (£209.8m) worldwide.
Grant says that her first attempt was “good”, but sounded like Princess Margaret, which he described as “startling”.
“She was told to kind of, well she thought she better loosen it up a bit,” he continued.
“Then she came in and it was Princess Margaret having had a stroke. But a week later it was bang on.”
Being Bridget Jones is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
Both actors returned for sequel, The Edge of Reason, in 2004, with Zellweger reprising the role in 2016’s Bridget Jones’s Baby.
Grant recently said Zellweger was “one of the few actresses [he] hasn’t fallen out with" and, earlier this year, cracked a Bridget Jones joke at the Baftas after his former co-star won Best Actress for Judy.
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