Few romantic comedies have the legendary status of Bridget Jones’ Diary; in many ways, the film is the ultimate, go-to rom-com. Complete with charmingly posh British men, relatable lead character, and plenty of iconic, quotable lines, this 2001 classic has definitely stood the test of time. The film centers around Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), a single woman in her early 30s, obsessed with finding love and losing weight — both goals that prove pretty difficult. First, she falls for Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), her devastatingly handsome, floppy-haired playboy boss. In her infatuation, she overlooks Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), the quiet, slightly snobbish lawyer with a heart of gold (via The Guardian).
While the film is still hugely popular, certain elements of the early 2000s tale haven’t exactly aged well. From the rampant workplace sexism to Bridget’s unhealthy habits, there are certain aspects of the movie that may surprise modern viewers. Here are all of the things about Bridget Jones’ Diary that you never noticed until now.
Bridget Jones' Diary is basically a modern-day Pride and Prejudice
Most people know that Bridget Jones’ Diary is loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic, well-loved novel Pride and Prejudice. After all, the rom-com features its own “Mr. Darcy,” like Pride and Prejudice – Colin Firth even played Mr. Darcy in the famous 1995 film version of the novel.
However, you may not have realized just how many references to Pride and Prejudice are peppered throughout Bridget Jones’ Diary. First of all, Bridget works at the fictional publishing house “Pemberley Press” — in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy’s estate is called Pemberley (via Radio Times). Bridget also overhears Mark making fun of her at the party where they meet, just like Elizabeth in Austen’s novel. Daniel even lies about Mark, just as Wickham lies about Mr. Darcy.
In fact, as Bustle reported, Helen Fielding, author of the Bridget Jones’ Diary novel, was obsessed with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. “I just stole the plot… and then the book increasingly began to mimic and nick stuff from Pride and Prejudice,” she admitted. “But it’s a very good plot and I thought Jane Austen wouldn’t mind, and anyway she’s dead.”
Wait a minute — is Bridget Jones' Diary the British Sex in the City?
Re-watching Bridget Jones’ Diary, we can’t help but notice all of the similarities to Sex in the City. In fact, aside from the British accents, Bridget could totally pass for Carrie Bradshaw. Additionally, one of the biggest similarities between the two phenomenons lies in their origins: just like Sex in the City‘s Carrie Bradshaw, Bridget Jones was initially created as a fictional character in a newspaper column (via the Independent).
Bridget, much like Carrie, is a chain-smoking, heavy-drinking, perpetually single woman about town with a gang of dependable friends. For the viewers, the watching experience is eerily similar. Top it all off with the fact that Carrie’s writing for her column serves as the narrative voiceover in Sex in the City, while Bridget’s writing for her journal serves as our guide in Bridget Jones‘ Diary. Once you notice the similarities between the two, it’s hard to ignore them!
The "flirtation" between Daniel and Bridget in Bridget Jones Diary hasn't aged well
For the majority of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Bridget is infatuated with her boss, Daniel Cleaver. Her dreams come true when he begins sending her suggestive emails at work, before eventually grabbing her bum in an elevator — super romantic, huh?
Re-watching the film today, it’s hard not to cringe at this uncomfortable and inappropriate workplace “flirtation.” In fact, it could easily be described more as sexual harassment than flirting, and author Helen Fielding agreed. In an interview on Desert Island Discs, Fielding confessed, “The level of sexism that Bridget was dealing with, the hand on the bum in so many of the scenes [made it] quite shocking for me to see how things have changed” (via The Guardian).
In fact, in 2018 during the #MeToo movement, Fielding wrote a new excerpt of Bridget’s diaries for The Times. She wrote, as Bridget, “I just accepted that part and parcel of having a job was that my boss would stare freely at my breasts, not know my name, and ask me to put a tight dress on to make an idiotic speech.”
Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones' Diary is more attractive than ever
When it comes to rom-com heroes, few can compare to the faultless Mark Darcy — except maybe his Pride and Prejudice namesake. Re-watching Bridget Jones’ Diary, it’s hard not to swoon every time this romantic lead appears on screen. With his stern, quiet demeanor, his heart of gold, and his awkward confession that he likes Bridget “just the way she is,” it’s easy to see why the character has stood the test of time.
In fact, in 2020, rumors spread that the famous character was actually based on Keir Starmer, the new Labour Party leader in the UK. Helen Fielding responded to these rumors in an interview for Radio Times, explaining that the politician was not her inspiration. “They are very similar, though,” she confessed. But she did admit that Starmer shares some of Mark’s best qualities. “He’s so good and decent and intelligent, but so buttoned up,” she explained.
So many Harry Potter actors are in Bridget Jones' Diary
The first time you saw Bridget Jones’ Diary, you probably didn’t notice just how many of the cast members also graced the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. We all know that Harry Potter featured a lot of famous British actors — but we were pretty surprised by the crossover. After all, the movie came out a few months before the first Harry Potter film. So re-watching the film, it can feel a little bit like a Harry Potter reunion.
Bridget’s mom is played by Gemma Jones, the actress who played the no-nonsense school nurse, Madame Pomfrey, in Harry Potter. Her dad is played by Jim Broadbent, who played the fame-obsessed Professor Slughorn. Then we have Shirley Henderson, Bridget’s friend, who played Moaning Myrtle. And jumping forward to Bridget Jones’ Baby, Emma Thompson, who played Bridget’s gynecologist, also played Professor Trewlany. Turns out this rom-com is a little more magical than we realized!
The fat jokes in Bridget Jones' Diary would never happen now
One of the most problematic aspects of Bridget Jones’ Diary is all the fat-shaming. Fat jokes have never been okay, but it seems that back in the early 2000s, they were a lot more common. As The Tab pointed out, the entire movie is pretty fatphobic; Bridget’s obsession with her own weight and her self-assessment as being too large is proof enough. She’s terrified the dying “fat and alone,” which isn’t exactly a great representation of a healthy body image!
And Bridget’s self-image is just the beginning. The truth is, the character is never even overweight! As Babe reported, based on the character’s height and weight, which is documented throughout Bridget Jones’ Diary, she never has a BMI over 21 — which is actually perfectly normal. So not only does the film present us with fatphobic characters, it also tries to convince us that its main character is too heavy — when she’s actually a healthy weight. This is definitely one aspect of the film that would simply never happen now!
Bridget's amazing friends in Bridget Jones' Diary are basically family
Watching Bridget Jones’ Diary again, we couldn’t help but notice that Bridget’s gang of friends really are pretty spectacular — in fact, they totally steal the show. In a 2016 article in the Independent, one fan explained that the dynamic between Bridget and “her friends and their terrible advice” is basically the best part of the film, and a part of the film that remains totally relatable.
In fact, Bridget’s friends are so caring for her that they’re like an extended family. It’s this group of people that picks her up when she’s down, eats her horrible blue soup, and even books a trip to Paris for her when her heart gets broken. Basically, they’re an amazing group of pals that, as the Independent noted, completely nails the phenomenon of the urban friendship family. And re-watching the film now, they totally warm out heart.
Bridget would never be able to rent that same apartment from Bridget Jones' Diary today
Let’s face it, Bridget Jones’ London pad is seriously nice. But for a 30-something single woman who works at a publishing company, Bridget’s apartment looks just a little too nice. As Express noted, her home featured large rooms, luxurious decor, and even had a fireplace. Additionally, the apartment appears to be located is in a central, highly popular area of London called Borough Market. And back in the early 2000s when the film was made, it probably would have been worth roughly £190,000, as Time Out reported. Okay, sounds reasonable.
But wait for it, as these days, Bridget’s apartment would be jaw-droppingly expensive. In fact, it would probably cost around £945,000, according to Keller Williams UK. Additionally, according to The Telegraph, Bridget’s salary these days would be around £35,000 — definitely not enough to afford an apartment worth almost £1 million! Sounds like Bridget certainly couldn’t have lived in this home these days.
Moaning Myrtle is literally crying in the bathroom in Bridget Jones' Diary
Harry Potter fans are in for a huge shock when they re-watch Bridget Jones’ Diary. Not only is the memorable actress (Shirley Henderson) who played Moaning Myrtle in the movie, she’s also in a pretty familiar situation. As one fan noted on Twitter, “I’m dying because not only is Moaning Myrtle in it, but her first scene is crying in the bathroom.” It’s a pretty hilarious coincidence!
As an interview with Henderson pointed out in The Guardian, neither role is very flattering. After all, what actor wants to be seen “swollen-faced in the toilet?” Well, as far as Henderson is concerned, it’s not actually a bad stereotype. For one thing, it’s a lot easier than always being the “pretty-pretty one” in the film. “To look good all the time can be challenging,” she explained. “Filming is long — you get very tired, and your skin breaks out and your lumps and bumps. It’s easier if you’re allowed to have bags under your eyes.” Sounds like this actress actually enjoyed being able to weep in the bathroom for multiple roles!
Is that Salman Rushdie in Bridget Jones' Diary?
Literary fans may have noticed a pretty bizarre cameo when re-watching Bridget Jones’ Diary. It turns out, the one and only Salman Rushdie (famed author of books like Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses) makes an appearance in the movie.
Rushdie’s big scene comes when Bridget approaches him at a book launch to join a conversation. When he asks her what she thinks, Bridget awkwardly replies, “Do you know where the toilets are?” to which Rushdie gives her a wonderfully condescending look. This author certainly has some acting chops! In fact, Fox News even suggested that he almost stole the film from Renée Zellweger. Apparently, at the film’s premiere, the audience even applauded him when he appeared on screen.
It turns out, this movie isn’t the writer’s only foray into the world of film. In fact, Rushdie also acted in Then She Found Me, River of Fundament, and several music videos. He even did the narration for the film version of his book Midnight’s Children (via IMDb).
The chain smoking is out of control in Bridget Jones' Diary
Back when Bridget Jones’ Diary was released, smoking was far more common than it is today. In fact, most of the characters in film are constantly chain smoking — at work, at the bar, at home, you name it! Re-watching the film today, it’s pretty shocking just how much smoking there is. In fact, at the time, researchers advised that stricter ratings were needed for films like Bridget Jones’ Diary because of the sheer amount of smoking (via The Guardian).
Apparently, smoking actually presented some issues for Renée Zellweger; she explained to Cinema.com that as a non-smoker, she had to study how to smoke. “I had my girlfriend from North Carolina who likes to have a Marlboro now and again teach me how to hold it,” she shared. But it wasn’t always easy. “She didn’t tell me the part about how, when you keep it in your mouth for a white it burns your eyes, so I was doing all these great scenes with Hugh and I was blinking away, trying so hard not to ruin his good job.” Wow, sounds like smoking on screen isn’t fun!
Bridget leaves one sexist workplace for another in Bridget Jones' Diary
We’ve already discussed the surprisingly sexist scenes that take place at Bridget’s first workplace with the Hugh Grant character, Daniel, in Bridget Jones’ Diary. After a brief fling that ends with Bridget finding another woman in Daniel’s bathroom, she dramatically quits her job and storms happily out of the office. However, re-watching this film, it’s a little disturbing at just how sexist her next workplace ends up being; it seems that in Bridget’s world, workplace sexism is just a necessary evil that must be put up with.
Even the book’s author, Helen Fielding, was pretty shocked looking back at her work. In a modern-day Bridget diary entry for The Times, Fielding wrote, “What did I put up with, in the days of these diaries, without even knowing I had the right to not put up with it?” She went on, writing that after she left her first sexist job, she “walked straight into another one with Richard Finch.”
As modern-day Bridget acknowledged, few women would put up with working at a place that was so toxic.
Bridget isn't much of a feminist icon in Bridget Jones' Diary — but is it a bit complicated?
Because of the many problematic aspects of Bridget Jones’ Diary – as a fan in Refinery29 summed it up, the film is plagued by “fat jokes, the ass close-ups, the marriage obsession, the dreamy bad boy who breaks her heart, the dreamy rich guy who makes it all better, [and] that part where her whole life almost falls apart because she can’t choose between her own underpants.”
To that end, the film and its titular character aren’t always considered particularly feminist. As the fan went on to note, we can’t always expect to be shown perfect female specimens on our screens. The fact that Bridget is less-than-perfect can actually be a pretty good argument that the film is inherently feminist in its message: not all women are “good.”
Re-watching Bridget Jones’ Diary, it’s easy to notice a lot of aspects of the main character that are problematic to a modern audience. However, it is nice to see a fellow woman that struggles to get everything right — especially when watching as an adult!
The Christmas sweaters from Bridget Jones' Diary are actually super cool now
Back in the early 2000s when Bridget Jones’ Diary first opened in cinemas, Christmas sweaters weren’t exactly in vogue. However, re-watching the movie today, the scene where Bridget meets Mark and judges him for his goofy sweater makers a little less sense — these days, they’re all the rage!
As Sharon Maguire, the film’s director, told USA Today, the sweater had to be perfect. “The original sweater went through many designs because it had to be just right,” she explained. “The character of Mr. Darcy is a constipated English prig when we first meet him so we needed something totally ridiculous to pierce that pomposity.” Maguire went on to explain that they worked incredibly hard to make the reindeer on the sweater look as goofy as possible.
As USA Today went onto note, ugly Christmas sweaters became a huge holiday trend. In fact, it started a huge movement in Christmas movies and TV specials for years to come.
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