In the 12 years between the last two “Bridget Jones” films, Colin Firth has been busy. He’s won an Oscar. He’s become an action star. He, the man with the euphonious English accent, has even played an American or two.
In “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” the actor, 56, returns for a third time to the role of emotionally remote but furtively dashing Mark Darcy. But he insists it’s just another role. In this round, Mark has split with Renee Zellweger’s eternally self-deprecating sadsack. He re-enters Bridget’s life, first during an unplanned tryst, then when it appears either he or a peppy tech guy (Patrick Dempsey) got her preggers — though it’s unclear who’s the father.
It must be fun to be talking about a character you’ve played for some 15 years.
I don’t know if it’s fun for that reason. [Chuckles]
Well, you get to find new nuances in a character, almost like you would someone you know in real life.
Hopefully that’s the case. I don’t feel ownership of the character, really. I hadn’t seen the first two films since they came out. I had to go back and look at them this time, to prepare for this. There are people who’ve seen it more often than I have. So it belongs to them.
In some ways, I felt I had to live up to a character someone else had done. I tend to let go of things the minute I walk off set. It did occur to me maybe I had to study [the films] and see what it was I was supposed to conform to. It wasn’t like I was carrying the character around or he was living inside me or something.
The idea of revisiting the same characters reminds me of the “Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight” movies, as well as Michael Apted’s “Up” documentaries, where they visit the same group of people every seven years, just to see how they’re doing. It’s an idea more movie series should do.
You hit the nail on the head; that’s the way I see it. You’re checking in with people years later, and at different seasons of their lives. And the audience has aged the same. They might not be our ages, but everyone has shared the same 15 years. If you were Bridget’s age then, you’re Bridget’s age now. If you were five years old [circa the first], you’ll be 20. The passage of time is something we have in common with our audience. That gives it resonance. The passage of time has certainly made it a more interesting exercise.
And it’s interesting because it’s about people in middle age, who are rarely stars of rom-coms.
Perhaps not. And it’s interesting to see how well it can go down when people do it. Sorry to reference something I was in, but “Mamma Mia” certainly did that. And it was a huge hit. Clearly a lot of people out there are very happy to be represented in that genre. There may be many reasons why love stories tend to focus on young people. But older people I don’t think mind having stories that remind us we’re not dead below the waist.
I dug up an interview from around the time of “The Edge of Reason,” in which you talked about how lots of people associate you with Mark Darcy, or even Fitzwilliam Darcy from “Pride and Prejudice.” And you point out you’re nothing like either of them. Does that still happen, given how much you’ve done since?
I’m not particularly aware of it. I don’t think about it for a second, unless I’m doing an interview. Certainly no one I know associates me with those things. I’m sure other people think about it, but I don’t really make that my business.
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