Bridget Jones's Diary received positive reviews and was a commercial success, grossing over $280 million worldwide. Zellweger was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film. A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was released in 2004 and another sequel, Bridget Jones's Baby, was released in 2016.
Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is 32 year old, single, very accident-prone and worried about her weight. She works in publicity at a book publishing company in London where her main focus is fantasising about her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). At a New Year party hosted by her parents, she re-encounters Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), the barrister son of her parents' friends. They had known each other as children. After their initial encounter, Mark thinks that Bridget is a fool and vulgar and Bridget thinks that he is arrogant and rude, and is disgusted by his novelty Christmas jumper. After overhearing Mark grumble to his mother about her attempts to set him up with "a verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish and dresses like her mother", she decides to turn her life around. She starts her own diary, which covers all her attempts to stop smoking, lose weight and find her Mr. Right.
Bridget and Daniel begin to flirt heavily at work, first over email, ahead of an important book launch, at which Bridget bumps into Mark and his glamorous but haughty colleague Natasha (Embeth Davidtz). Bridget leaves with Daniel and they have dinner, despite the fact that he is a notorious womaniser with a questionable personality, of which Bridget is aware. Bridget learns from Daniel that he and Mark have a history and, as a result, hate each other. Daniel informs Bridget of their falling-out, telling her that Mark broke their friendship by sleeping with his fiancée.
Bridget is invited to a family party, and she takes Daniel along as her "plus one". They spend the day before the party at a country house hotel, where Mark and Natasha are also staying. Daniel, having to spend the day working, is not able to attend and sends Bridget to the party alone. However, his dubious character becomes clearer to Bridget when she returns home from the party to find Daniel with another woman, a colleague of his, Lara (Lisa Barbuscia), and Bridget cuts ties with him soon after. Bridget begins to search for a new job and after landing a job in television, quits her role at the publishing house without giving notice. Daniel makes a desperate attempt to convince Bridget to stay, only for her to retort that she would "rather have a job wiping Saddam Hussein's arse."
Bridget has a long-standing invitation to a friend's dinner party, where she is the only single person and distraught to see Mark and Natasha seated at the table. During the party, Mark privately confesses to Bridget that, despite her faults, he likes her "just the way she is". He later helps Bridget to achieve an exclusive TV interview in a landmark legal case.
Bridget begins to develop feelings for Mark, and he comes to her rescue at her birthday dinner party at her flat in Borough, which she is disastrously attempting to cater for herself. Daniel drunkenly visits, temporarily claiming Bridget's attention. Mark leaves the party, but returns to face Daniel. Mark punches Daniel and the two fight. They end up in a nearby restaurant and finally smash through the window, landing on the street. Mark wins the battle and knocks Daniel out. Bridget chides Mark for being mean and he leaves, but after an insensitive appeal by Daniel, she also rejects him emphatically.
In the meantime, Bridget's mother, Pamela (Gemma Jones) temporarily leaves Bridget's father, Colin (Jim Broadbent) and begins an affair with a perma-tanned shopping channel presenter named Julian. After the affair is over and she has reconciled with Colin, she returns to the Jones family home and unintentionally reveals a truth: that Mark and Daniel's falling-out resulted from Daniel (who was Mark's best friend at Cambridge University) seducing Mark's wife, not the other way around, as Daniel had led Bridget to believe.
At the Darcys' ruby wedding anniversary party the same day, Bridget confesses her feelings for Mark, only to find out that he and Natasha are both leaving to accept jobs in New York. Bridget interrupts the toast to their pending engagement with a stuttering but moving speech about England losing one of its finest men. Her words clearly have an effect on Mark, but he still flies to New York, though with obvious misgivings. Bridget's friends rally to repair her broken heart with a surprise trip to Paris, and just as they are about to leave, Mark appears at Bridget's flat.
When they are about to kiss for the first time, Bridget goes to her bedroom to change into sexier underwear. While Bridget is changing, Mark peeks at her diary, in which she has written many insults about him. Bridget returns to find that he has left. Realising that he had read her diary and that she might potentially lose him again, Bridget runs outside after him in the snow with a thin sweater and tiger skin-print underwear. Unable to find him, she is disheartened and is about to return home when Mark appears having bought a new diary for Bridget in order "to make a fresh start". They kiss in the snow-covered streets. Bridget then notes that "nice boys don't kiss like that", to which Mark, contrary to his uptight nature, retorts "Oh yes they do."
- Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones
- Colin Firth as Mark Darcy
- Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver
- Jim Broadbent as Mr. Colin Jones
- Gemma Jones as Mrs. Pamela Jones
- Celia Imrie as Una Alconbury
- James Faulkner as Uncle Geoffrey
- Shirley Henderson as Jude
- James Callis as Tom
- Sally Phillips as Sharon "Shazzer"
- Lisa Barbuscia as Lara
- Donald Douglas as Admiral Darcy
- Charmian May as Mrs. Darcy
- Paul Brooke as Mr. "Tits Pervert" Fitzherbert
- Embeth Davidtz as Natasha Glenville
- Patrick Barlow as Julian
- Felicity Montagu as Perpetua
- Neil Pearson as Richard Finch
- Dolly Wells as Woney