It's been 12 years since we last saw Bridget, and Zellweger feels like the break helped prepare her to revisit the character. "I have a different perspective now," she says. "I worked on the other side of things for awhile, so I understand it a little bit better. Yes, I'm definitely back, but different. Now my life comes first."

Renee Zellweger returns as Bridget Jones

This is why she's reluctant to open up to the media, especially amid criticism about her opinions or appearance. "I'm a private person, so it's difficult for me to talk to the whole world like we're all best friends," she says.

But she is happy to speak about her work. And she says that returning to play Bridget again was like a dream: "I didn't quite believe it until we said, 'Okay, that's a wrap,' on the picture."

Zellweger says that getting the new screenplay was very emotional. "I was so joyful when I was reading that script," she says. "I hadn't realised how much those characters had endeared themselves. I love those characters. I love her parents, her friends and her world. What I think I was happiest about was that it felt like this matters. Bridget means something to a lot of people, and me included, so I really wanted to be careful with her. With the script, it was just exciting."

She felt that an unexpected pregnancy was the perfect next step for the character. "I hadn't thought of that potential crisis," she laughs. "It's a really interesting, different kind of a challenge to be reunited with a character that I know on so many levels, but don't at all on so many others. I had to figure out how the evolution of this person manifests and, more importantly, how she doesn't evolve. What does she hold onto that's familiar? It sure was fun to figure out!"

And the parallels between Bridget and her own life gave her pause for thought. "All of us, to some degree, are striving to be true to ourselves and appreciate our individuality," Zellweger says. "But certainly, that's something that comes with maturity. You come to recognise that you're doing all right as you are, and you stop apologising for your individuality. That's what's so wonderful."

Watch the trailer for Bridget Jones's Baby: