One played the charming, womanising rotter Daniel Cleaver; the other, the steadfast but sexy human rights lawyer Mark Darcy. As leading characters in the Bridget Jones movies, they competed for the affections of the heroine and celebrated singleton.
This week, the actors who played those parts — Hugh Grant and Colin Firth — both celebrate their 60th birthdays making them v.v. middle aged.
Here, CLAUDIA CONNELL imagines how Bridget Jones might look back on their lives so far . . .
Colin Firth (left) and Hugh Grant (right) both celebrate their 60th birthdays this week
STARS OF THE AWARDS SEASON
Colin Firth: And the award for the English sex god in a Tom Ford tux goes to . . .
In 2011 Colin won the biggie — an Oscar for his role in The King’s Speech, where he played George VI. Looked total dreamboat at the award ceremony. Was true stiff-upper-lip Brit in acceptance speech and didn’t blub once.
Sadly, he did thank Harvey Weinstein for helping his career, but it was nine years ago, how was he meant to know? He also won a Bafta and a Golden Globe.
Hugh Grant: Who needs an Oscar? Good hair is sooo much more important.
Total scandal that he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for Four Weddings And A Funeral. He did win a Golden Globe and a Bafta, though, which some people pretend is just as good.
He’s also won two Evening Standard Film Awards for Bridget Jones’s Diary and Florence Foster Jenkins. Those awards are great for British actors, because Americans can’t take part. Hooray!
Winner: Colin. Oscar is only award actors want. Prosecco is lovely but, really, we all want champagne . . .
Colin and Hugh are leading characters in the Bridget Jones movies and Claudia Connell imagines how Bridget Jones might look back at their lives so far
REAL-LIFE DRAMA AND SCANDALS
Colin: A torrid affair (his wife’s — how could she?)
A beautiful woman is married to one of the most handsome men in the world. Then, one day, she has an affair with an Italian bloke who looks like a frog. She says it was just a fling, and that Frogman turned into a stalker when she tried to break if off. Frogman says: ‘I’m no stalker! It was a year-long love affair and we went all over the world together!’
Sounds like the plot of a rom-com but Colin’s wife Livia admitted to having a real-lfe affair with Italian journalist Marco Brancaccia! Though the Firths have since split, Colin forgave her. Could he be any more delish?
Hugh: Not so divine after all? (I’ve had some nights I’d rather forget but what WAS he thinking?)
Look, it was 25 years ago. Move on! Hugh had a moment of madness on Sunset Boulevard. He picked up a sex worker (no one says prostitute any more, v.non p.c) called Divine Brown (pictured below) in his car and then the police pulled him over. He was v. naughty boy but he went on TV to say he was v.v. sorry and pleaded guilty to ‘lewd conduct in a public place.’ Let’s leave it there.
Winner: Hugh, for being the more scandalous. Although will admit to being a tad turned on by police mugshot.
Hugh picked up a sex worker (no one says prostitute any more, v.non p.c) called Divine Brown (pictured below) in his car and then the police pulled him over
FAME AND FORTUNE
Colin — £19 million
As honourable, ethical person, Colin gets all his money from his earnings. You won’t find him flogging coffee machines a la George Clooney.
The 21 movies he’s starred in have grossed £950 million at the international box office. Being true thespian, he prefers the sort of low-budget films people at dinner parties pretend to have seen.
He’s got two coming out in the next year — one called Operation Mincemeat (about war not mince pies) and another called Supernova about two middle-aged men who tour England in a camper van. Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise! Eight years ago he started his own company, Raindog Films, and they’ve just received a huge investment to move into TV production. Move over Harry and Meghan!
Hugh: £60 million
Come to mama! The ten movies Hugh has been leading man in have taken £980 million at the international box office. After portraying floppy-haired bumblers in Four Weddings and Notting Hill, he graduated to irresponsible bad boys in About A Boy and Bridget Jones before settling into posh rotter in the Paddington movies.
But, as all big stars know, TV is the new cinema and Hugh was simply fabulous in A Very English Scandal. Next month, he’ll be revisiting posh baddie territory in The Undoing, opposite Nicole Kidman and made by the same people who made Big Little Lies,.
The trailer says: ‘It’s what rich, entitled people do when threatened . . . they conceal the ugly truth to protect themselves and they think they can get away with it.’
A posh, entitled person? No acting lessons needed there! Ha ha!
Winner. Hugh. Mr Moneybags. Surprised he doesn’t live in tax haven paradise!
LEADING LADIES IN THE EX-FILES
Colin: Log cabin lover (swoon) and real-life Elizabeth Bennet (hope for all singletons).
Was a dashing 28-year-old when he fell in love with American co-star Meg Tilly, who had his son, Will. They lived in a log cabin in the mountains in Canada, but after five years Colin returned to the UK to film Pride And Prejudice and the couple split.
Then along came American-born Jennifer Ehle, who played Elizabeth Bennet to his Darcy and, well, no girl is going to be able to resist a man in those britches, is she?
They dated for a year before Colin met his Italian wife — honestly, I’m all for international relations but give us Brits a fair shot.
Hugh: More fillies than I’ve had fags.
Crikey, fasten your seatbelts because this is v.v. complicated. When Hugh hit the big time he was dating Elizabeth Hurley — stunning sex goddess who wore that safety-pin dress. They split in 2000 after 13 years together.
In 2004, he had a three-year relationship with Jemima Khan. He gave her a £3,000 watch at the start of their relationship, she said that when she saw it had stopped working she knew that was a sign the romance had run its course. Or, maybe you just needed a new battery, Jem?
In 2011, he had a relationship with Chinese actress Tinglan Hong and when she was pregnant with his second child, it was revealed he was dating Swedish TV producer Anna Eberstein, who was also pregnant. Told you it was complicated. He and Anna are now married and he has five children with the two women.
Winner: Hugh. He dated Liz, who has Britain’s best boobs.
Hugh Grant (left) braves the sea while on holiday in Marbella in 2016. Colin Firth (right) is pictured on set the Mamma Mia movie in 2007
WHO’S THE BEST OF THE DADDYS?
Colin: Dream marriage ends in heartbreak (sob)
Father to three boys — the eldest, Will, 29, has followed his dad into acting.
In 1996, Colin met Livia Giuggioli, on set of mini-series Nostromo where she was a production assistant. They married and have two sons Luca, 17, and Matteo, 19. Since their split, Colin and Livia, 50, have remained friends.
Hugh: One wedding and five children (bet even Richard Curtis didn’t see that coming!)
He recently said he was ‘very wrong,’ when it came to his long-held desire to not have children and kids were ‘the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me’.
Tabitha, eight, and Felix, seven, are his children by Tinglan Hong. John, eight, is the eldest of the three children he has with Anna, 41, his wife of two years. They also have a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
He married Anna at Chelsea Register office and said being married was not a ‘recipe for mutual misery’ that he once thought it was.
Winner: Colin. Can picture him teaching his sons rugby and taking them for first pint. Alpha with a soft side. V. sexy!
HOMES WHERE THE HEART IS
Colin: Italian villa (perfect for Pinot Grigio consumption)
The main Firth family home is a five-bedroom Queen Anne-style home in Chiswick, West London worth around £3 million. Colin is thought to have moved out when he and Livia split at the end of last year. Prob living in super-suave bachelor pad by a river now.
Just like Hugh, he was v.v. upset about Brexit and applied for (and got) Italian citizenship, which will come in handy if he ever wants to live full-time at his other house, a rustic farmhouse in Umbria.
Hugh: Made it in Chelsea (and all the other posh postcodes)
Unlike footballer types, Hugh didn’t fritter his millions away on racehorses and sports cars. Instead he invested in London property — he owns three houses worth around £30 million.
Last year he bought a £17.5 million six bedroom house in Chelsea, where he lives with his wife and three children. He also owns a five-bedroom house in Notting Hill worth £10 million that he rents out. Then there’s the three-bedroom Fulham home he bought for Tinglan Hong and their two children, now worth more than £2 million.He also owns a £500k bolthole in Swedish seaside resort Torekov.
Winner: Colin. All big movie stars have Italian villas. Am imagining self in giant sun hat sipping Aperol Spritz on one of his sun loungers.
Colin was never sexier than when he was cast as the deep, moody and total sex god that is Fitzwilliam Darcy, the role that set him on the road to fame
AGITATING AND ACTIVISM
Colin: Human rights hero, just like Mark Darcy (swoon)
Very into conservation and the environment like his wife, who once wore a dress made of recycled plastic bottles. He hasn’t yet worn a suit made out of milk bottle tops or anything but if he did he would still look a total sex god.
He supports Survival International, a group that defend the rights of tribal people and The Refugee Council, which helps refugees coming to the UK. Wonder if I could squeeze one into my flat?
Hugh: Political beast (phwoar!)
Is patron of the Fynvola Foundation (named after his late mum) which works towards providing nursing and palliative care for adults with learning disabilities.
Last year, Hugh turned his hand to politics. He tirelessly campaigned with the Lib Dems, Labour and independents in order to stop the Conservatives winning a majority at the General Election and to stop Brexit from happening. Well, for goodness sake, he can’t be brilliant at everything!
Winner: Colin. Admirably worthy without being too tedious and braggy.
Colin Firth: Mr Darcy in Pride And Prejudice, 1995
Number of times have watched lake scene on YouTube: 617.
Colin was never sexier than when he was cast as the deep, moody and total sex god that is Fitzwilliam Darcy, the role that set him on the road to fame.
That scene where he strips off to swim in the lake at Pemberley — cor! I don’t think they held Mr Wet T-shirt contests in Regency England, but if they did Mr Darcy would have won hands down.
‘You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you’ — can’t believe Elizabeth turned down his first proposal!
As the sweary, always late Charles in Four Weddings, Hugh was adorable. Still think he should have married Fiona, and not that annoying American!
Hugh Grant: Charles in Four Weddings And A Funeral, 1994
Number of Chardonnay-fuelled fantasies of floppy-haired toff quoting David Cassidy lines at me on the Southbank: 893.
Not all women want their leading men to be bulked-up beefcakes, you know. Some of us go all giddy for a bumbling posh boy. As the sweary, always late Charles in Four Weddings, Hugh was adorable. Still think he should have married Fiona, and not that annoying American!
Winner: Colin. He was wild-swimming hundreds of years before boring millennials turned it into an Insta brag.
And the winner is… Colin!
Colin. My Mark Darcy, true soul mate… and back on the market, too! Whatsapp me Col, let’s go for a coffee.