By EW Staff
Updated April 09, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Bridget Jone's Diary: Alex Bailey

When you think of Bridget Jones — a plumpish, single, thirtysomething Londoner who obsessively counts calories, cigarettes, and chardonnays — you don’t think of Zellweger, a slim, pretty Texan. Neither did anyone else. Casting lagged for more than a year while Brit actresses, from Kate Winslet to Helena Bonham Carter, were considered. Zellweger, however, nailed her meeting with first time feature director Maguire, a friend of author Helen Fielding. The backlash from fans — the novel has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide — came shortly thereafter.

To convert the skeptics, Zellweger moved to London, packed on 15 pounds, toiled for a few weeks in a ”Bridget” type publishing job, and worked the accent. As Bridget’s rakish beau, Grant ”gets to be fantastically rude,” Maguire says. ”That was fine because Hugh has a real smutty sense of humor.” As for Zellweger, costar Firth says she’s v.v.g.: ”If there was some legislation that Texans can only play Texans and middle class Brits can only play middle class Brits, can you imagine how boring that would be?”