'Bridget Jones' Author Helen Fielding: 'I Would Like to See' a Third Film
With Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy climbing the best-seller list in the U.S. and already a firm number one in the U.K., Helen Fielding appeared in front of a packed house Friday night at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills to answer questions from fellow writer, Star Wars icon and friend Carrie Fisher about her new book.
Fisher quickly asked the question on everyone’s minds: Will there be a third Bridget Jones film?
“Well I don’t know, because I’ve only just finished it, really,” Fielding hedged. “I mean, I would like it. I would like to see it be a film.”
She then recalled how wonderful it was to visit the set on the first movie and watch Colin Firth speaking words she had written. But she seemed nonplussed about being more involved in the films, describing a writer’s penchant for being too overprotective of his or her work, and said she had in fact only visited the movie set once on each production.
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As they settled into the evening’s format -- whose formality the close friends struggled with at first -- the stories flowed more naturally from Fielding, even as Fisher failed to remember ones Fielding insisted she had told her before.
Fisher has spoken openly and often about her ongoing use of electroshock therapy as a tool to manage her depression, and the toll it has taken on her memory was clearly on display.
When discussing the pervasive portrayal of single women in their thirties as hopelessly alone, Fielding asked if it was Fisher who once spoke the famous line onscreen about it being easier to be killed by a terrorist than to get married after a certain age. Fisher responded that though she was in When Harry Met Sally… it was actually Meg Ryan who quoted the since-debunked Newsweek statistic. (Of course, all the Nora Ephron fans in the house knew it was Rosie O’Donnell who spoke the line to Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle, another Ephron film in which Fisher did not appear.)
Memory gaps aside, the audience ate up the banter between Fisher and Fielding as they retraced Bridget’s history as pop culture’s most famous "singleton" -- a term Fielding thought she had coined until she found out P.G. Wodehouse had done so 50 years earlier.
When asked about being credited with inspiring an entirely new genre of fiction, Fielding remembered cringing when Barbara Walters named her the “grandmother of chick lit.”
“I think she meant godmother,” she insisted with a laugh, adding that she doesn’t feel she invented the genre so much as captured the zeitgeist of that time.
Of course, the most serious charge she’s been faced with recently has been of murder -- the murder of one of her characters, that is. Mark Darcy, the gallant love of Bridget Jones’ life, meets his demise in the third book, leaving Bridget a 51 year-old widow and crushing the hearts of readers all over the world.
Fielding said she wasn’t thinking about the fans when she wrote it, but rather that she only ever wanted to write about Bridget being single, and since Darcy would never have left her on his own, there was only one way to write him out.
In what was surely one of the more surreal moments in both their careers, Fielding recalls rushing to get Firth on the phone to tell him the bad news: “I had to tell Colin first, before anyone else. It was like someone really died.”
Soon thereafter, Fielding remembers watching the evening news in her pajamas when the newscasters cut from the crisis in Syria to another breaking news item: “MARK DARCY IS DEAD.” That’s when she realized she wasn’t just writing this new book for herself anymore.
But her fans seemed to have mostly recovered and are already looking forward to the next chapter in Bridget’s saga. “Would you like to bring Bridget back again at 61?” one audience member asked in the evening’s concluding moments.
Fielding wavered for a moment before Fisher cut in to answer emphatically on her behalf. “She’ll do it.”