When it was announced that Renée Zellweger would not only be returning to the big screen, but also as (arguably) her greatest screen role — Bridget Jones — fans were understandably excited. But, they were also skeptical.
Why? First of all, just in general. She’d been gone a while (it’s been 15 years since she played the bed-hopping bunny wannabe — fans of the first film will dig that reference). Did they really want to see their beloved Bridget considerably older (Zellweger is 47), when they now have Anna Kendrick, 31, to convey their relationship woes?
The fact is, men — for the most part — couldn’t care less about if a woman has had work or not.
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Second, there was Zellweger’s re-emergence two years ago on the scene, pretty darn unrecognizable, and the cacophony of plastic surgery “did she/didn’t she” that followed.
For Zellweger, it was dizzying.
Especially one interview, where she and a male journalist had at it. And perhaps that’s just it — it was a male journalist. Would she have gotten just as irritable had it been a woman asking the question on everyone’s lips? Because the fact is, men — for the most part — couldn’t care less about if a woman has had work or not.
Both “Jones” movies had me in stitches, and my hopes are high for this third one, even without Hugh Grant as the wimpy player.
So maybe there’s more at play here.
Keep in mind this is not just a return to “Bridget Jones” for Zellweger; it’s a return to screen acting and, as such, a return to dealing with the press. She’s been “on holiday” for six years. And it’s not like she left on top, with a huge blockbuster in her wake. Her last movie was 2010’s “My Own Love Song.” Ring a bell?
The actress says that during the time off she re-charged her creative batteries by allowing herself to do all the things she hadn’t had time for while establishing her career, namely writing.
When she raised eyebrows on the red carpet of Elle magazine’s Women In Hollywood Awards two years ago, she subsequently adamantly denied she had plastic surgery. Then came the Variety article two months ago. A piece from chief film critic Owen Gleiberman was not — shall we say — well-received. By anyone, really.
Gleiberman described how he felt Zellweger’s face had changed in the trailer for “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” speculating on whether or not she’d had cosmetic surgery and lamenting the loss of the “slightly slovenly doughy-cuddly perfection of Renée Zellweger’s face.”
Way to step in it, fella.
But he was, of course, acknowledging the elephant in the room. Doing the journalist thing. Everyone was talking about how unrecognizable she suddenly was (even if that’s not necessarily the case with the trailer, where she somehow looks like Zellweger again), so he went there. Even on Zellweger’s IMDb page you’d think there was a goof, and that it was another actress’ photo in the upper left-hand corner.
By admonishing him, however, it took on the “women in Hollywood” narrative. But — according to social media, and if we’re honest with ourselves — women go to the “she had plastic surgery” till far more often than us guys do.
A personal essay for The Huffington Post by Zellweger followed, where she addressed both the piece in question and the wider issue of body shaming-driven “tabloid journalism.”
She wrote at length about how “the double standard used to diminish our contributions remains, and is perpetuated by the negative conversation which enters our consciousness every day as snark entertainment.”
By the essay’s end, Zellweger called for a total re-evaluation of the way women are judged and consumed by the world at large, citing no specific gender.
There is already talk of a “Bridget Jones 4.” Maybe her feisty Brit alter ego can take up the fight in that.
For my money, the only thing more entertaining than a perpetually embarrassed Jones is a ticked-off one.