Credit: Giles Keyte

Anyone who saw the first two Bridget Jones movies and read the addictive books by Helen Fielding knows the title character is meant to be squidgy, not skinny.

But in Bridget Jones’s Baby (out Sept. 16, 2016), star Renee Zellweger is decidedly un-fluffy and in fact looks almost as slender as she did in 2002’s Chicago. Yet rest assured, lovers of the wanton sex goddess: that’s by design and reflects where the character of Bridget, now 43 and still single, is in her life.

“We all really loved the notion that Bridget, 15 years on, had finally reached her ideal weight … somewhere between a UK size 10 or 12 … but still hadn’t solved any of her issues about love and loneliness,” director Sharon Maguire says in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I think that one of the reasons the first film worked was not just because of the comedy but because people identified with Bridget’s fear of loneliness. It’s a universal fear. It’s still a prominent theme in the character’s journey even in the third film, and an integral point of access for the audience to empathize with Bridget.”

Zellweger’s size has always been scrutinized in the movies. During production of Bridget Jones’s Diary back in 2001, Zellweger was deemed too skinny (and, um, too American) to play the title role. In the 2004 sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, she was then criticized for gaining too much weight.

“She’s lovely in this and does take it really seriously. She puts a lot into that and cares deeply about how she’s presenting herself,” explains Debra Hayward, who has produced all three Bridget Jones movies. “She is kind of every woman, Bridget. You do want to look at her and see yourself reflected back in her in some way. What I love about the stories, it’s quite bold to tell a story about a slightly older woman. I just love that it’s kind of got a sort of maturity about it, as a love story, as a romantic comedy.”

In the movie, Bridget is now a successful producer of a serious news program in England when she discovers she is pregnant. In true Bridget fashion, she isn’t sure whether the father is her off-and-on again lover Mark Darcy (the brilliant Colin Firth) or newcomer Jack Qwant, played by former Grey’s Anatomy McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey.

“When the script was first popped on to the doormat I’ll admit I was intrigued to see what had happened to these characters 15 years later,” says Maguire (right of Zellweger in the photo, above), who is returning to the franchise after directing the original film in 2001. “I realized I’d really missed them. It brought back memories of my own life 15 years ago, too. It was somewhat haunting from that respect thinking back to how our lives have changed. All of one’s fantasies for one’s life and how they turn out … that’s an ongoing theme for Bridget Jones, whether those fantasies concern babies, marriage or careers. So I was very keen to find out if any of Bridget’s fantasies for her life had come true.”

To continue reading more on Bridget Jones’s Baby, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here.

Bridget Jones's Baby

  • Movie
  • R
  • 118 minutes
  • Sharon Maguire