Colin Firth revisits ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and his ‘cowardly’ fight with Hugh Grant

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When it comes to onscreen fistfights, it’s hard to think of a less bad-ass throwdown than the one between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Midway through the hit 2001 rom-com, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, Firth’s Mark Darcy and Grant’s Daniel Cleaver take their battle for the heart of the titular diary-writer (Renée Zellweger) into the streets of London while a spirited crowd gathers to watch punches get thrown. But this duel isn’t exactly Rocky-worthy. Instead, Mark and Daniel’s rumble looks more like a schoolyard brawl, complete with lots of awkward pushing, missed kicks and semi-embarrassed apologies. 

According to Firth, he and Grant deliberately approached the fight like they were entering a playground, not a boxing ring. “As you can probably tell, we just made it up,” the actor tells Yahoo Entertainment. “They always tell you that you can’t do that — [fights] have to be choreographed. But we just thought, ‘We’re playing a couple of cowardly, angry and frightened yuppies: how the hell would we know how to set a punch?'” (Watch our video interview above.)

At first, Diary director Sharon Maguire did intend for Mark and Daniel’s fight to look a bit more polished, and hired a stunt choreographer to give the actors a crash course in screen fighting. “He was very professional, and very macho… [with] muscles out the wazoo,” Firth says, laughing. 

After a few rounds with the professional, Firth and Grant decided that their duel had to be pure amateur hour for the scene to work. “The last time these two characters fought was probably when they were 7 years old in the school playground, so this fight will probably look exactly like that. And in the end, that’s what it was! It’s one of the most organic things ever committed to film.”

Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth in 'Bridget Jones's Diary,' which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month (Photo: Universal/YouTube)

Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary,’ which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month (Photo: Universal/YouTube)

Mark ultimately wins the fight, and Bridget’s affections. But the two continued their rivalry in a pair of sequels: 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and 2016’s Bridget Jones’s Baby. “It doesn’t take much for us to pull each other’s hair, scratch each other and kick each other and run away,” Firth jokes. “We’re inches away from that every time we see each other.” 

On the other hand, Firth wouldn’t dream of throwing a punch at his longtime pal, Stanley Tucci, whom he co-stars with in the new drama, Supernova. Tucci is celebrating his own rom-com anniversary this year, as the 2006 favorite The Devil Wears Prada enters its 15th year as an endlessly rewatchable favorite. And the actor’s scene-stealing performance as fashion magazine art director, Nigel Kipling, is a key element in its longevity. “I was really excited to do that movie,” Tucci says now. “I love fashion, and it taught me a great deal.”

Directed by David Frankel, The Devil Wears Prada features career-best turns by Anne Hathaway as newbie journalist, Andrea Sachs, and Meryl Streep as veteran editor, Miranda Priestly — a role famously modeled after real-life fashion magazine royalty Anna Wintour. Thrown into the deep end, Andrea finds a life raft in Nigel, who helps her learn the ropes and up her own fashion game. 

Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci in 'The Devil Wears Prada' (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada (Photo: 20th Century Fox Film/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Off-screen, meanwhile, Tucci became fast friends with his co-star Emily Blunt, who later introduced him to her sister, Felicity, the year after he lost his first wife, Kate, to breast cancer. The two eventually married in 2012, and have two children. “I got to meet one of my best friends, and now my sister-in-law,” Tucci happily says of his Prada experience. 

He’s less certain that Nigel enjoyed a happily ever after, though. The art director was on the cusp of getting a longed-for promotion until Miranda interfered — something that fans still haven’t forgiven her for. Asked whether he thinks that Nigel nabbed his dream job of creative director, Tucci gives everyone a reality check. “In my mind, yes. But probably not.” 

Bridget Jones’s Diary is currently streaming on Starz and Hulu; The Devil Wears Prada is currently streaming on Prime Video.

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