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Dean Forster was behind plenty of the action on Bridget Jones’ Diary
Bridget Jones’ Diary features one of the most unique fight scenes in film history, with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth flinging each other around and crashing through a glass window in one shocking moment.
The fight has long been talked about, with Hugh and Colin famously performing it themselves and adding their flair to it.
But a stunt team was still needed to choreograph the fight, make it safe for the actors, and to perform the brutal glass window moment, which had to be shot in one take.
As part of our series Seeing Double, which looks into the extraordinary lives of some of film and TV’s most fearless performers – stunt doubles – we talk to Dean Forster, who doubled Hugh on Bridget Jones’ Diary.
He opened up to Metro.co.uk about what went into the incredible fight scene, and the stunts he’s been forced to change.
Dean’s stunt double CV
Dean Forster has worked in the stunt industry for more than 30 years
- Dean has worked in the stunt industry for more than 30 years, working on franchises like Wonder Woman, Bourne, and Star Wars.
- Most recently, Dean has continued his career as a stunt coordinator, on TV shows including The Offenders, Cobra, and The Bay.
- He previously opened up to Metro.co.uk about his work on Peaky Blinders and the particularly nasty Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) fight which ended up being axed.
What happened with the Bridget Jones fight scene?
Recalling the incredible fight scene, Dean explained that the late stunt coordinator Peter Brayham choreographed it, despite previous reports that a stunt team wasn’t used. Hugh and Colin then performed the fight, adding their characterisation to it, but left the window jump to the stunt doubles.
‘I went through the window with this [stunt performer] called Joss Gower,’ he recalled. ‘They had a giant sugar glass window built. We had one shot on it and one shot only.
‘And the stunt coordinator, who’s passed away now, called Peter Brayham – he coordinated things like The Professionals and Sweeney – he built a ramp for us to run up and then about eight foot after the pavement, there was a curb and he padded the curb over.
‘We said, “We’re never going to hit that.” [But] we both burst through the window, parallel, and we probably travelled about eight foot and landed exactly on the curb where he said we would!’
‘It was basically that they didn’t want a hero fight, with punches and stuff like that,’ Dean explained. ‘They wanted two men who had never fought before slapping each other and being basically girly. It was a director called Sharon Maguire and she said, “I don’t want it to be a fight. These men don’t fight, they’re not very good.”
‘They both performed the fight themselves but we had to work through it and make it look like they were fighting before they could actually get on set.’
Sharon Maguire directed (Picture: WireImage)
‘It was choreographed by the stunt department but [Colin and Hugh] put it together and it was their their slant on it – their acting ability made it look as funny and not stunty as it should have been,’ Dean added. ‘The stunt coordinator could have put together a fight that was high-octane, big throws, big punches, them being aggressive, but it wouldn’t have worked for the film. It would have looked wrong, it would have been wrong.
‘They’re white collar workers, they don’t throw punches, they slap each other and go, “Ow, ow, that hurts!” And charging somebody through a window is probably what they would have done.’
Director Sharon previously opened up about the fight scene, recalling that she asked the actors: ‘Well, what would your characters do?’
‘Then [Hugh] said, “Well, he would probably just b***h-slap him.” And Colin said, “I’d probably kick him in a rather ineffectual way,”‘ she added to EW.
‘We shot it with lots of action shots, but really the funniest bits were just the wide shots of them b***h-slapping each other,’ she added. ‘All of it is the comedy of humiliation, really.’
Were any actors keen to take on their own stunts?
The stunt doubles serve as an ‘insurance policy’ for the actors (Picture: REX)
‘99% of the stars claim they do their own stunts – they don’t really. It’s nothing down to them, it’s the insurance side of it,’ Dean said. ‘For instance, if Hugh Grant got a black eye, then he wouldn’t be filming for two weeks, and if he broke a bone, he wouldn’t be filming for a couple of months.
‘So we’re there basically as an insurance policy.’
‘A lot of the time as well, actors are very, very good at acting but a lot of the physical stuff sometimes becomes a problem for them. Don’t get me wrong – I was working with Sean Bean and he was phenomenal,’ he continued.
‘He was absolutely brilliant, really, really involved, really going for it, but again he was allowed to do what he was allowed to do without being in a dangerous situation.’
Has anything he’s worked on not made the final cut?
‘I know for a fact I auditioned for a part in Avengers and they cut the whole sequence and another show we did a massive chase scene, with 50 cars, motorbikes, they cut that, they cut all the time.
‘When you watch a film you’ve worked on, so much will be cut because stunts are just an explosive part of it. They’re not integral to the story.’
Has he ever said no to a stunt?
‘We always modify things, all the time before they’re safe for us to do. For instance, I was stunt coordinating and the director said, “I want her falling from 400 feet” and I said, “Nope, can’t do it.”
‘He said, “Why not?” And I said, “If they fell from 400 foot, they would die.”‘
‘Again, I had someone jump off a crane a few years ago and the director said, “I want it to be 200 foot,” and I said, “If he hits the water, he’s dead. 200 foot’s impossible.’
‘We make it to look realistic as possible,’ Dean added. ‘We don’t want people to look like they’re superhuman.’
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