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Renee Zellweger on the “Loneliness” of Not Having Kids and Why We’ve All Got a Little Bridget Jones in Us

Guys, the wait is finally over. After 12 long years, Bridget Jones is FINALLY back in our lives, thanks to the long-awaited release of Bridget Jones’s Baby, which hits theaters Friday, September 16. And let me tell you, it is everything I hoped it would be, and more.

This time, Bridget’s a little older, and yes, even a little wiser. Gone are the notebooks she used to scribble her daily musings into (as well as meticulously log her calories, weight fluctuations, and alcohol intake). Instead, 2016 Bridget unloads all of her deep thoughts via her trusty iPad, and has done away with all that ridiculous weight-tracking and body-obsessing. (AMEN.)

She’s also come a long way from sliding down fire poles mid-interview and broadcasting her bum on national T.V. — she’s now a top producer on a hard news show aptly named … Hard News. And while she’s still undeniably Bridget in all the right ways, it’s hard not to notice that these last 12 years have given her a refreshing air of newfound confidence.

But there’s one thing about Bridge that hasn’t changed: Her uncanny ability to land herself in some wildly embarrassing scenarios.

And the results are just as hilarious as ever.

Image Source: Universal Pictures
Image Source: Universal Pictures

Speaking with Babble and other reporters at a press event in New York Tuesday, actress Renee Zellweger reveals that stepping back into the shoes of the character who first made her (even more) famous over a decade ago was like saying hello to an old friend:

“When they sent the script, it felt like this fantastically happy reunion, and it’s reminded me how much I love her. I love her friends and her parents and her world, and then, I got really terrified because I thought, ‘Oh God. I really — I don’t want to mess this up.’ Because, I mean, I know that when I discovered her in the books, like so many other people, you know, we fell in love with her. We have affection for her, and she holds a lot of meaning for us. I just didn’t want to disappoint anybody.”

After catching an advanced screening of the film, I can safely say she won’t be disappointing anyone (it’s that good), but the pressure she felt is certainly understandable. After all, Bridget Jones has become something of an icon for an entire generation of women, who more or less feel she’s like the voice inside their own head.

“So many people come up to me and say, ‘No, you don’t understand, Renee. I am Bridget Jones. I am Bridget Jones,’ and they’ll share their Bridget Jones story,” says Zellweger.

But if you ask Zellweger, the reason we’ve all got a bit of Bridget Jones in us is because we’re all a lot more similar than we’d care to admit — and that’s exactly why she resonates with so many women of all ages.

“If we were all privy to one another’s inner dialogue, we would recognize that we are so very much alike,” Zellweger continues. “We all feel the same pressures to measure up, and we all share the same fears that we won’t. And we all put the same pressures on ourselves. We’re all self-deprecating. It’s kind of a lovely realization.”

That may be true, but let’s be real: Not all of us are quite as hilarious as Bridget in our daily foibles.

Image Source: Universal Pictures
Image Source: Universal Pictures

In Bridget Jones’s Baby, we pick up years after Bridget’s sadly parted ways with Mark Darcy. She may still be nursing a fear of being eternally single, but she’s done moping about it. At the behest of her friend and coworker, Miranda (Sarah Solemani), the two head off on a girls’ trip that sets off a hilarious chain of events, including a chance meeting with an insanely hot stranger named Jack (Patrick Dempsey, obviously) that ends with a bit of drunken sex neither of them can remember.

Just one week later, Bridget also finds herself unexpectedly in the throes of passion with her old flame, Mark Darcy, and soon after that, learns she’s pregnant — with absolutely no idea who the father is. (Keeping track of all this?)

The rest of the movie follows Bridget’s nine months of pregnancy, which culminates in one epic and hilarious birth scene — that director Sharon Maguire says Zellweger and the crew prepped for by watching endless episodes of One Born Every Minute. (Think: A Baby Story, but British.)

Image Source: Universal Pictures
Image Source: Universal Pictures

And while Zellweger may not have had any personal experience to draw upon during that delivery scene, she says there are plenty of other parts to Bridget’s journey she can relate to. Namely, her feelings at the onset of the movie — of watching her friends get married, have kids, and seemingly “evolve” beyond her.

“From what I’ve experienced with the people that I’m closest to, you evolve when you become a mom,” says Zellweger. “You become a bigger version of yourself. You become a more powerful version of yourself, a fully realized version of yourself. I’m watching all of my friends and my family members evolve in this way [now]. And I’m a bit of a late bloomer, and so, it’s interesting to kind of be chronologically in that place, but not experience that same transformation at the same time as your friends and the people closest to you.”

That very process, she explains, can feel lonely and isolating at times — but only if you let it.

“It’s very strange, and it’s a very unique kind of loneliness,” continues Zellweger. “It’s very unique because then it means defining your growth in a different way and insisting that it happen despite the absence of this thing that makes it happen naturally.”

As slapstick at times as the film may be, it is, at its heart, about that very same notion: We have to stop defining our happiness by how well the reality of our lives matches up to the fantasies we’ve had for years. Things won’t always go according to plan. The pieces may not fall perfectly into place. We may not all be married by 30, living in tree-lined suburbia with two kids and a dog.

And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean we haven’t found happiness.

For Maguire, that lesson is one of the film’s strongest themes.

“Life will throw other fantasies at you … a different deck of cards,” she says, “and you have to find the fantasies in there.”

Bridget Jones’s Baby is in theaters nationwide starting Friday, September 16. Learn more at BridgetJonesBabyMovie.com.

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