You’ve probably seen a film written or directed by Richard Curtis.
Richard made his directorial debut in 2003 with what would become another legendary rom-com: Love Actually.
While many of Richard’s films are critically acclaimed, some have been called out for fat-shaming plot lines, and recently, the writer/director expressed regret about fat jokes in his films.
In Love Actually, Natalie’s appearance (played by Martine McCutcheon) is a plot line. The size of her butt and thighs are discussed by two characters, and she’s even referred to as “the chubby girl.”
Bridget Jones’s Diary, in which Renée Zellweger plays a British woman navigating her feelings for two men, is also filled with a focus on and jokes about the character’s weight.
On Monday, Today.com reported that Richard addressed the focus on weight in some of his films during a recent interview, though it’s unclear if Richard directly specified which films he was referring to.
“I remember how shocked I was, like, five years ago when Scarlett said to me, ‘You can never use the word fat again,’” he said of a conversation with his daughter, the activist and writer Scarlett Curtis, for the Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, according to Today.com.
“And wow, you were right,” he continued, per the publication. “I think I was behind, you know, behind the curve, and those jokes aren’t any longer funny, so I don’t feel I was malicious at the time, but I think I was unobservant and not as, you know, as clever as I should have been.”
Stars of both Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually have also previously shared their thoughts about the focus of their characters’ weights. Renée initially gained weight to play Bridget Jones. “I put on a few pounds. I also put on some breasts and a baby bump,” she said in a 2016 British Vogue interview. “Bridget is a perfectly normal weight, and I’ve never understood why it matters so much. No male actor would get such scrutiny if he did the same thing for a role.”
In a 2017 interview with Cosmopolitan UK, Martine also opened up about playing Natalie in Love Actually, including comments about her character’s appearance.
“For me, it was always the point that she was, according to Richard, a beautiful girl. She turned the prime minister’s head, and her issues weren’t real issues. Every woman thinks there’s something wrong with them when in actual fact, as Hugh has said in other films, they are perfect and lovely as they are,” she told the publication. “She was meant to be the embodiment of that, and I think sometimes people have missed that point.”
According to Today.com, Richard also opened up about the lack of diversity in Notting Hill, which he wrote. “(With) Notting Hill, I think that I hung on to the diversity issue, to the feeling that I wouldn’t know how to write those parts. And I think I was just sort of stupid and wrong about that,” he said, in part.