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In 2001, Zellweger gained the prized lead role of Bridget Jones, opposite Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, in the British romantic comedy Bridget Jones's Diary, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Helen Fielding.The choice came amid much controversy since she was neither British nor overweight.Besides receiving voice coaching to fine-tune her English accent, part of Zellweger's preparations involved spending three weeks working undercover in a "work experience placement" for British publishing firm Picador in Victoria, London.Her performance as Bridget received praise from critics with Stephen Holden of The New York Times commenting, "Ms.
Renée garnered unanimously positive comments from film reviewers.
Empire magazine felt Zellweger did a "good work" in her "tricky supporting role", and David Ansen wrote for Newsweek that the actress "has an uncanny ability to make us swallow even the most movie-ish moments".
She played the title role in the biopic drama Miss Potter, co-starring Emily Watson and Ewan Mc Gregor.
She won the Academy Award, the BAFTA Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for the epic war drama Cold Mountain (2003).
She later reprised her title role in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), starred in Cinderella Man (2005), and played author Beatrix Potter in the biopic Miss Potter (2006).