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Hugh Grant talks about the Bridget Jones sequel

Q: How long did it take to shoot the fight scene with Colin Firth, as opposed to your fight scene in the first movie?

HG: It was one day about this time last year, and it was the same approach as the first one, which was just to make sure that it was as crap as we wanted it to be. The key is to stop the stunt coordinator from coming in to make it look like a film fight. We just wanted it to be two pathetic Englishmen scared of each other, throwing their handbags at each other basically.

Q: Do you think a guy like Daniel Cleaver can change?

HG: Can he change? No. I think short answer is that he can't. Funnily enough, I think that if he has changed, he'd change for the worse, not the better.

Q: How did you get so good at playing A-holes? Are you ready to give them up?

HG: Um, it's sweet of you to say that. Now, I quite like it. For years I sat in these interviews and everyone said, “You're always Mister Nice Guy, why don't you ever play someone nasty?” So in fact it's been a relief for the real me to come out more on camera. I don't have any particular burning desire to go back to being cuddly. Not really.

Q: Is it just a coincidence that in these movies and Love Actually, your love interests are women with some extra pounds? Are you making a statement?

HG: I remember saying to my agent that the next job I want to do, the next three jobs I do, I want them to be about slightly overweight women. And they did a wonderful job. No, I don't know what to say to you. I agree that it's nice that these stories feature that. Because you've heard this before, any man will tell you that we don't necessarily want what we see in Vogue or whatever.

Q: Then why do you always date thin girls?

HG: I'm very easily pleased.

Q: What is your take on sequels and their value?

HG: I don't think they're automatically to be despised. I've seen sequels that are [great]. The Godfather, he throws out nervously, racking his brains for another.

Q: Maybe Lord of the Rings?

HG: I've never seen Lord Of The Rings unfortunately, but I've heard from some children about Part 2. But, I think it's all right, I think it's all right. Don't you? You look like you're furious at the idea.

Q: Were you eager to come back?

HG: No, no. I was very difficult. I'm always quite difficult, but I was really impossible on this one. And there was a lot of coming and going about the script and my part. To begin with, I was not convinced that Daniel Cleaver could ever go into television, a medium he despises. But I got my head around that and did a lot of work on just sort of trying to keep the cleverness of Daniel. I always thought one of the mitigating factors for him in the first film that he wasn't just an *sshole, he was actually quite a clever *sshole. I wanted to try and maintain that. So in things like his presentations to the camera in doing The Smooth Guide, I just tried to make them relatively clever.

Q: Speaking of The Smooth Guide, what kind of traveler are you? Do you do touristy stuff, or try to stick to the real deal?

HG: I like a bit of both. I'm ashamed to say I was in Marrakesh earlier this year and I had a guide taking me and my father around the tourist spots and I kept saying, “No, no, no, I want to see poverty. I wanted to see people in rags, you know.”

Q: What do you do with comedy that other actors don't? What do you feel you have to offer?

HG: I don't know what other actors do. I think in a way there is an upside to me being very difficult, and the thing I'm really difficult about is the script. I won't do it unless I think the script has got there or at the very least that my part has got there. And then even when I come to shoot it, I will try 16 different things. But it has become a form of madness, it really has, to the point of sort of meltdown. And on this film, the second day, I had a meltdown. Suddenly there was all this sort of neurosis got to me and I had my first ever full-scale attack of stage fright. It was very alarming for ever one concerned. I had to get to about take 30 before I could even remember my lines. It was the scene when Colin comes in at the end and challenges me to come out and fight him.

Q: What makes Renee so appealing?

HG: What's the big thing about Renee? She's just very redoubtable. I think film acting's just a miserable experience. It's so long and so boring and so difficult to get right so that what you need above all is incredible willpower and strength of mind. And she has that. I don't know where it comes from. She's definitely got that. And, big pants . . . they're back. You're always slightly nervous when jokes are revisited. It's one thing to revisit a film but entire jokes… but I think we've moved forward a bit.

Q: How did she handle the sun in Thailand?

HG: Oh Christ! She's got this thing that she believes the sun will make her skin come up in boils and peel off her bones. So she's dressed up like Julie Andrews at the beginning of The Sound Of Music, like a nun . . . umbrellas and gloves and everything. And it's a nightmare.

Q: Did they give her a hard time there?

HG: No, because oddly enough, she was really sensible on the subject because I think she almost felt she was being assaulted just being in Thailand, being so close to the sun. But it does make one slightly want to ask her why live in Los Angeles.

Q: If you don’t care for the process of film acting, are you ready to give it up?

HG: Well, I haven't done very much for about three years. I think I've just done that smallish part in Love Actually and the smallish part in this film. So I'm sort of semi-retired.

Q: Is there anything else you want to do?

HG: I'm sure I've said to you a billion times that I keep thinking I'm about to write a brilliant script, but I've done bugger all all year. I feel ashamed of myself.

Q: So when Richard Curtis calls, you seem to be ready to go to work.

HG: Yeah, old friends and things and this one, that seems fine. But I'm not in a hurry to go and sit in big development meetings and make great big commercial films. I do have a touch of apathy about that.

Q: Would you prefer stage?

HG: Well, it's true that the stage is fun, but I can never justify it completely in my head because although I think it's really fun for the performers, my experience as an audience member is 19 times out of 20 it's purgatory to sit watching a play. I think. I don't know. People keep going more, I think, out of a sense of duty, sort of churchgoing, than out of clever.

Q: Renee says women come up to her and share their dating stories. Do men ever come up to you like that?

HG: No, emphatically not.

Dont't forget to also check out: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason