Bridget Jones 4: Leo Woodall to join Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant for next instalment

Colin Firth will not return for the screen adaptation of Helen Fielding’s 2013 novel Mad About the Boy

Following months of speculation, the studio behind Bridget Jones has confirmed their heroine will return for a fourth big screen outing, adapted from Helen Fielding’s 2013 novel Mad About the Boy.

Hugh Grant is set to reprise his role as the appallingly dashing Daniel Cleaver, having sat out the previous instalment, 2016’s Bridget Jones’s Baby. That movie charted Bridget’s unexpected pregnancy, which coincided with a love triangle as veteran on-off boyfriend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and a new suitor played by Patrick Dempsey vied for her affections.

Firth is not returning for the fourth film, which is set four years after the previous instalment and sees Bridget a widow with two small children, Mark having been killed by a landmine in Sudan.

Joining Grant and Renée Zellweger are Emma Thompson, who played Bridget’s doctor in the third film, as well as series newcomers Chiwetel Ejiofor and Leo Woodall, the latter on a roll following breakthrough parts in The White Lotus and One Day.

Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod in the Netflix series One Day

It has been suggested Woodall will play the hot 30-year-old with whom Bridget starts sleeping as she starts dating again following her bereavement. Fielding has scripted the feature, which will be directed by Michael Morris, whose previous film was To Leslie, the drama starring Andrea Riseborough, who won a surprise Oscar nomination for her role last year.

It is the first time a man will have helmed a Bridget Jones feature; Sharon Maguire directed the first and the third films and Beeban Kidron the second.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy will shoot in London this summer before a release next February, to coincide with Valentine’s Day. So far, the franchise has taken $760 million at the box office, while the first instalment in 2001 earned an Oscar nomination for Zellweger.

The film, as with the others, will be produced by Working Title and released by Universal. It will be Zellweger’s first big screen role since 2019’s Judy, for which she won an Academy Award for her role as Judy Garland.

Grant co-stars in the miniseries The Regime alongside Kate Winslet, while Thompson’s most recent film was Matilda: The Musical. Ejiofor’s second film as a director, Rob Peace premiered at Sundance in January. Woodall is now shooting legal drama Nuremberg alongside Russell Crowe, Rami Malek and Michael Shannon. – Guardian